The old saying “You only get one chance to make a first impression” holds true. Experts say it takes between 7 seconds and 30 seconds for someone to form an opinion of another person. That isn’t enough time to review a resume, discuss investment strategies, or cover a person’s employment history. Instead, a person bases their first impression of another on their appearance, behaviour, body language, and voice. Based on these factors, the person makes a snap judgement about whether they are trustworthy.
Most people don’t have a clue about how they come across to others. They don’t see or hear the same thing that other people do. Making a good first impression takes some preparation. A good place to start is to get someone they trust to give an honest evaluation. Knowing their weak areas will help them know what they need to improve.
A lot happens during the first few seconds when two people meet. They instinctively evaluate how the other person is dressed, how they carry themselves, their body language, and their vocal inflections. So some things to focus on include:
Dress to Impress
Clothing makes a statement about the person before they ever say a word. Their choice in wardrobe reflects their personality and their business. Clothing should be appropriate to their industry, their level of employment, and their body type. Squeezing into an old suit that is two sizes too small and out of style won’t make the first impression they are hoping for.
Shoes are an important part of the overall picture, too. They should look professional and well-cared for. For women, making an investment in a good pair of shoes that work with a range of clothing is a good idea.
Carry Themselves with Confidence
How can someone get a positive first impression if a person isn’t sure of themselves? The best way to look confident is to stand up straight with relaxed shoulders and keep their head level. Most people aren’t thinking about how they carry themselves during a meeting. Just thinking about being confident and relaxed will help them give the impression that they are.
Strike a Better Tone of Voice
Appearing confident through tone of voice can be a bit challenging. But no one enjoys hearing a voice that is brash, whiny, or too loud. Toning down those vocal qualities is important since 38% of a first impression is based on the way someone sounds. When you add that to the 55% that is based on their visual perception, that means that 93% of a first impression isn’t based on what they say.
It is difficult for someone to change their tone of voice. We don’t hear ourselves the same way others do. They can start by speaking slowly in a lower than normal voice. This is something they must practice before they can do it comfortably.
Take Control of Their Handshake
Holding their hand too close to their body or without any aggression says they aren’t confident. They should not wait for the other person to reach out their hand. Instead, they should make the first move. This lets the other person know that they are not only confident but also eager to shake their hand.
Stay Alert to Their Body Language
Slouching, crossing their arms next to the body, or striking a pose are some things that people do without thinking about it. Good posture and holding their arms open makes them look engaged and interested. So does leaning towards the person to show their interest in what the other person says.
Facial expressions are another type of body language. They might express what the person is thinking instead of what they want to portray. Smile, look interested, and engage in what the other person says.
Make Eye Contact
From the time they walk into the room, they should make and maintain eye contact. It’s the one certain way of making a connection.
There are some things that no one can control. For instance, people often judge those with an attractive physical appearance more favourably. Mastering these tips for making a powerful first impression might help overcome the odds.
The biggest reason why first impressions matter is that they last. If a potential employer forms a poor impression of a candidate, they aren't going to invite them back for another interview. The same is true for someone looking for a service provider. If they aren't convinced of their trustworthiness and interest in their business needs, they will go to someone else. That's why it's so important for anyone in any type of business to know how to make the right first impression.