How To Make Every First Impression A Great One


Everyone knows that first impressions count.  So what can you do to make sure your first impressions are the impressions you want to leave with someone?

First impressions count in lots of situations.  Job interviews or meeting a new manager are obvious examples.

Whilst research on this has mixed results much of the information implies that the all important first impression is formed within the 1st minute of meeting someone.  That impression can be formed by a quick glance that takes in body language and mannerisms, not to mention how you’re dressed.

And whilst first impressions can be formed in such a short time, getting that person to change their impression about you can take much much longer.  So we may meet someone for the 1st time in a less formal setting who might become important later.  Every first impression counts.

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Here are my top tips for making 1st impressions count:

Dress for the occasion – Sadly, our personal appearance accounts for about 55% of peoples judgements about us and it’s the first thing people see.  Getting it right is so important.

Keeping it appropriate can really make you ‘feel the part’ and increase confidence.

Suits might be appropriate for business meetings but you may need a more casual edge if you’re meeting is with a gym instructor.  Make appropriate changes for some cultures e.g.  where covering your head or legs is key.  Do your research.

Clothes, hair, make up; shoes and accessories should be clean and tidy.  And what about your grooming? Clean and tidy appearance is appropriate for most business and social occasions

Keep Your Individuality – yes, we need to conform to some basic first impression rules and that does to some extent mean “conforming” to other views about appropriateness, however there is still space for some individuality that will make you stand out from the rest.  This can mean accessories, jewellery, splashes of colour or a nice tie – the key word here is appropriate!

Be yourself – If you’re worrying about the meeting this will come across to the other person, it may make you uncomfortable or uneasy and this will be picked up and mirrored by the other person.  Take a moment, breathe deeply and relax.

Be on Time – No matter how well we plan our journeys things can go wrong.  Plan to arrive a few minutes early, allowing for traffic delays or getting lost.  Give yourself some time to nip to the WC, check your appearance etc and calm yourself down.

Smile’s Count – Remember that age old expression –  “Smile and the world smiles too.”  A smile says lots about a warm personality inside.  It will emit a confidence that puts the other person at ease.   Keep it natural; an overused smile can come across as insincere.

Body language – When used correctly body language can project confidence.  Strong eye contact, standing straight and smiling together with a firm handshake projects confidence.  Be aware of any nervous habits to keep them in check and once again breather deeply and slowly.

Small Talk. Be prepared to engage in small talk.  Thinking a little bit in advance about this may first appear false.  Taking 5 minutes to read the front page of a newspaper will arm you with some current topics, give the impression that you’re knowledgeable and makes a real change from discussing the weather.  Be interested in the other person.  Asking a few little questions about them makes you a much more interesting person yourself.

A Positive Attitude.  – May seem obvious; however we have a tendency to brush off compliments.  Simply say thank you and move on.  In meetings you may face critics, allow this to wash over you and continue to contribute.

Courtesy – Good manners and courteous behaviour go a long way.  When remembering your manners, think about your mobile phone.  Even vibrates can be noisy and cause a distraction.  Be 100% interested in the other person.

Remember – You have only a few moments to make a great first impression and it’s almost impossible to change it. It’s worth giving each new first impression your very best. Much of what you need to do is common sense. But remember, with a little extra preparation, you can make every first impression a great one.




2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. coachsue
    Oct 17, 2011 @ 10:55:38

    Hi Carolyn,
    Some good advice here 🙂 I’ve also found that making others the focus of your attention and not yourself also works; being interested in what they have to say and listening properly to the answers!
    Sue 🙂


    • carolyntrafford
      Oct 17, 2011 @ 16:56:47

      Thanks Sue that’s absolutely spot on. I read somewhere that if you show interest in somebody else, i.e. asking about them, they walk away thinking what an interesting person you are!


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