Research is mixed on how long it takes for us to make a first impression on those we meet. Most will indicate that when we meet someone for the first time we have around 30 seconds to make an impact - good or bad.
There is no secret on how to make a positive impression. It's all about your appearance - what you wear, your facial gestures, eye contact and how you sit - and importantly what you first say.
Here are some easy things that you can do to make a positive impact on others;
· Dress appropriately for the role that you are going for - it is better to be dressed more formal than casual if you are uncertain.
· Smile - when you smile, you make other people feel good.
· Eye contact - at the first greeting ensure that you look into the other person’s eye, then pull your vision back after that to look around the eyes. Direct eye contact is great for the first engagement and then tends to get a bit ‘creepy’ if you continue if to look directly into their eye. Look just above the eyes or just above the nose.
· Match their speech - if you can, match the other persons speed and length of sentence. This works in a similar way to mirroring body language.
· Sit properly in your chair - sit upright, sit forward, show an open body-language and pay attention. This will quickly establish a rapport.
Making a Speech or Presentation
· Try to move away from the lectern - move around to maintain their attention.
· If you must use a lectern - don't grip it like you would fall over if you let it go.
· Keep your head up - look across the top of the heads of the audience and look intermittently at those who are smiling at you.
· Change your tone and rhythm - alter your voice to maintain interest and to avoid a monotone.
· Project calmness - you may be nervous but it is important to at least appear calm.
· Don't worry about mistakes - if you make a mistake, keep going and perhaps make a joke about it.
Don't be too hung up on trying to 'look' the part or doing the right thing. Smile, show an interest with intermittent eye contact and speak with honesty. These are the three things that we look for in others when we socialise.