How to Make a Great First Impression
April 03, 2014
Make yourself stand out with a great first impression every time!
Whether you’re interviewing for a job, internship, scholarship, at a networking event or, even, meeting your significant other’s parents for the first time, you want to make a great first impression.
It’s understandable that you’re nervous and sometimes your nerves can get the best of you. Even if you’re great at concealing your nerves, you want to come across as genuine rather than arrogant or rehearsed.
Here are some tips to follow that can help you make a great first impression in any given scenario:
Learn Names – the First Time Around
(and Remember Them!)
This is definitely much easier said than done.
However, there are a few easy tricks you can utilize to remember someone’s name when you first meet them. All tricks can be used in tandem to almost guarantee you’ll become a name virtuoso in no time!
Trick #1: When introduced, say their name aloud. For example, “Hi, John. I’m Elizabeth. It’s great to finally meet you after hearing so many wonderful things about your work in the field.”
Trick #2: When you learn someone’s name, associate the first letter of their name with an obscure object or animal. For example, let’s assume you meet someone named Anne. You can associate Anne with Aardvarks. You’re not likely to forget Anne Ardvarks and will likely remember her name as a result.
Trick #3: This involves recalling names. When trying to recall someone’s name, run through the alphabet, starting with the letter “A.” It’s much easier if you go through the alphabet, letter by letter, thinking of names to pinpoint what a person’s name is. You may be surprised what you can remember using this method!
Make Eye Contact
When you’re speaking to someone, it’s important to make eye contact to show that you’re actively listening to what they’re saying and understanding. If your eyes are darting around the room, it can appear as if you’re nervous or uninterested.
Inversely, you don’t want to stare at them the entire time. Maintain eye contact, looking away once in a while so that neither of you are uncomfortable or having a staring contest.
Master the Art of Shaking Hands
It’s polite to shake hands at the beginning and end of a conversation. A quick, firm grasp of the hand is perfect – avoid limp noodle handshakes at all costs!
Those types of handshakes command little respect and give off the impression that you’re neither excited nor fully present for the conversation that’s about to take place.
Starting out with a great handshake says, “I’m ready for a great discussion,” and ending with one sets the tone for a great future.
Pay Attention to Your Body Language
According to The Nonverbal Group, a whopping 93 percent of all daily communication is actually nonverbal! That means that only seven percent of what you’re saying matters – everything else comes across through facial expressions and body language. That being said, you must pay attention to what you’re saying with your body.
Here are a few body language dos and don’ts:
• Sit up straight/Stand tall – this displays confidence
• Move slowly – this displays composure
• Lean forward, slightly – this displays that you’re engaged and interested in conversation
• Smile – a smile always conveys that you’re enthusiastic and happy to be where you are
• Slouch – others perceive you as unconfident
• Touch your face/neck areas – others see you as uncertain, unsure of yourself
• Move hastily – others tend to feel nervous or uneasy
• Fold your arms – this tends to reflect that you’re closed off to others
• Fidget – this tends to come across as nervous, which can makes others nervous as well
Eye contact, coupled with nonverbal cues can aid in looking interested while others are speaking to you. You always want to look interested in what others are saying – no matter how boring their topic of conversation may be.
Looking disinterested is not only rude but can give off an extremely bad impression. Obviously, they feel that whatever they are saying is worthwhile, otherwise they would not be saying it.
Give Nonverbal Cues
Similar to body language, it’s important to give nonverbal cues while someone is speaking to indicate that they have your undivided attention. Examples include head nods, maintaining eye contact, laughing or smiling at their jokes or emotionally reacting properly otherwise to their stories.
When it’s your turn to speak, you want to ensure that you’re speaking clearly and not mumbling. A great way to tell if you’re doing so is if others are repeatedly asking you to speak up or repeat yourself.
While speaking, it’s important to vary your speech patterns to avoid dull or monotonous tones which can become very boring.
Change up the pace at different points, emphasize different words that are more important and take moments to pause whenever you need a break to either collect your thoughts or have a sip of water.
Dress to Impress
You don’t need to dress as if you’re a fashion icon, but it is important to look polished and put together. Aim to be presentable and wear clothes that are well fitting. Ensure that, in addition to your clothing, your hair, skin and nails are well groomed and hygienic as well.
Ultimately, the point is not to appear physically attractive – it is so that nothing is distracting from what you are trying to say.
Never underestimate the power of your smile! A smile can turn a bad situation upside down in an instant so always keep it in your back pocket. It’s your best and most effective tool in any social situation.
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