First impressions affect other in terms of your personal branding, your company branding, your customer service levels. If you start an interaction on the wrong footing or with the wrong impression, you’re immediately on the back foot. In customer service, making sure your customer service reps consistently display the right energy and tone of voice is critical. You cannot have people answering the phone sounding depressed, disinterested or bored. In a romantic context on a first date, how important is it for us to display and exhibit the right impressions! Thus, getting that first impression right is critical, in business and in life. So how can you be better at creating these impressions?
In terms of communicating attitudes and feelings, there are 3 things you need to pay attention to:
- How you look
- How you sound
- How you articulate
Let’s look at some simple things you can do physically, and in a virtual-meeting context to improve the way we are perceived, and the impressions we give.
How we look – In a physical face-to-face context, dress appropriately, with clean clothes, appropriate hair and upright body posture. Eye contact is extremely important, as well as a firm handshake. These are generally accepted and standard operating procedures when it comes to making a good impression. In a virtual meeting context, make sure your webcam is on, make sure you have good lighting that lights your face from the front, make sure your webcam is in line with your eyes, and that you have good sound. You need to look good on camera and look into the camera when talking to your listener
How we sound – When it comes to first impressions, you need to communicate that you are trustworthy and likeable. Without showing and sounding out these feelings, you will not be able to connect with your audience. In terms of making a good sound impression, try these 3 things:
- 20% smile – Physically smile to show you are likeable. The physical smile also affects the tone of your voice, it adds a layer of warmth and likeability.
- Speak with some extra volume – When you introduce yourself to anybody, add a few extra decibels to announce your arrival. The extra decibels communicate that you are present, excited and really want to be there. Extra volume also indicates extra energy.
- Speak with good vocal prosody or vocal melody – To do this, you need to speak at different speeds. Don’t speak at the same speaking pace as when you’re introducing yourself – mix it up to sound alive and interesting. Record yourself speaking with varying speaking speeds and see how you sound, you’ll be amazed at the difference and the impression it makes.
How we articulate – When you introduce yourself to someone, try and elevate their status and make them feel special. Notice something about their clothes, surroundings or the way they look. Never make the interaction about yourself or about how good you are, or how rich you are.The best way to avoid this trap is to ask questions of your subject, get them talking about themselves. You’ll get your turn to talk about yourself, don’t worry. In this narcissistic world, it’s a much better strategy to show interest in people, ask them questions and get them talking.
If you follow these simple suggestions, you’ll be able to make first impressions that last both in your professional and personal life.