The Importance of First Impressions
You’ve probably heard the saying “You never get a second chance to make a good first impression,” and it’s certainly true when it comes to public speaking.
When you’re building your brand or contributing to your business, every interaction with a new person is the starting point to a world of opportunity. That means the first impression you give can make or break your career.
A solid first impression runs so much deeper than speaking with confidence and schmoozing over a few dinner drinks; when you learn and understand the importance of a good first impression, it boosts your self-confidence and can even shorten the length of time it takes to build a relationship with your client.
Knowing how to make a good first impression positions you to stand out in a crowd and earn your audience’s trust.
By investing some time in learning how to make a good first impression, you’re setting yourself up for a lifetime of both business and personal success.
The Primary Effect is Real
Primary effect, in a nutshell, means that people tend to remember the first piece of information presented to them in comparison to what is later presented.
Although this can apply to a multitude of things like cramming for an exam or learning a new skill, this plays a big part in a first impression.
A bad first impression can tarnish someone’s view of you, and based on the primary effect theory, it can take a while for someone to “unlearn” his or her initial judgment. So, learning how to make a good first impression and the importance of a successful one is the first step in the right direction.
A Solid First Impression Leads to Strong Relationships
Whether you make a living by selling products, speaking at conferences, or catering events, the ability to network and build relationships with people goes hand in hand with success in business.
A good first impression will leave a positive imprint in people’s minds and can later translate to a new client or customer to add to your portfolio. Mastering a solid first impression can win you friends and bring success in your personal life, too.
Studies have also shown that people are naturally attracted to and pay more attention to those who are charismatic, genuine, and who seem to have a zest for life.
Speaking with confidence, smiling, and showing interest in someone’s life are strong attributes of a thoroughly confident person. People who are unhappy with themselves often have a hard time hiding it when the spotlight is on; your body is a mirror to the chaos inside.
Correcting negative behaviors in your mind (through self-reflection, self-improvement, stress relief, or therapy) can lead to you, being more mindful of yourself. A stronger presence is the backbone to a successful first impression.
Five Steps To a Good First Impression
Look the part. Although we were taught to never judge a book by its cover, a well-groomed, sharply dressed presenter will have a far better impact on their audience than a groggy-eyed one in sweats and sandals. Like it or not, people make little judgments and decisions even before words come pouring out. Taking some extra time to put yourself together is a surefire way to boost your confidence. The importance of a good first impression is initially resting on how you look that day.
Mind your body language. A good outfit paired with a sad slouch and scowl across your face won’t win your audience either. Studies say poor body cues such as crossed arms or lip biting are frequently associated with a “do not approach, do not trust” signal.
When you get on the stage or enter the meeting room, take a quick moment to check your posture and relax your face muscles. It’s much more comforting to be remembered for your smile and charm, than for your nail biting or deer-caught-in-the-headlights look.
Be comfortable in your own skin. Most people can sense awkwardness from a mile away; a pair of uncomfortable shoes, an itchy dress shirt, or forgetting to put on deodorant can quickly eat away at your confidence. If you want to make a good first impression, wear a trustworthy outfit – one that you know fits well and is comfortable to be in. The less outside influences you have to worry about, the more you can focus on delivering your message and promoting your brand.
Master your communication. Speaking with confidence isn’t a natural trait for every person who speaks at a board meeting or headlines at a seminar. The importance of first impressions can be tied to the delivery of your message; honing some good communication skills will help you in many ways. Spend some time reciting your speech in front of a mirror and master your message, so when you get up in front of your audience, discussing it is like second nature.
Bring the positivity. People are naturally attracted to upbeat individuals and your “trust” is often put into those who are charismatic and fun. Think of a first impression as an opportunity to sell yourself. No one wants to buy something from a negative salesperson with no personality. A positive attitude is essential in every good first impression.
In just a matter of seconds, the people you’re presenting to will decide whether or not they want to listen based on how you look, how you sound, and what you’re doing.
Do you look clean and well groomed?
Do you speak clearly with good articulation?
Do you move naturally and smile often?
Once you learn how to make a good first impression, you’ll win over any audience, and that gives you an advantage as you move through your presentation.
What kind of first impression are you giving your audience?