There is a humourous and true adage, “You can only make a first impression once.” So, By George offers a few tips on how to make a great first impression.
Make conversation. Talk or better yet, entertain. Just don’t stand there and let others carry the conversation. Tell a story and share your opinion. And ask questions. Be engaging.
Be blunt, slightly controversial, and completely honest. State your thoughts clearly and with conviction. If you really want to be memorable, you may want to make a statement (without insulting anyone or saying something offensive).
Be a little bit unusual – do something that might be out-of-the-norm. For example, come up with humorous and unusual answers to the typical introductory questions such as, “How are you?” or “What do you do?”
Use confident body language. Have a firm handshake. Stand up straight. Most important: maintain eye contact both while listening and speaking.
Attempt to trigger emotional response(s) from your audience. For example, make them laugh, make a mistake and apologize for it, stroke someone’s ego, tell stories, being helpful, or discussing a topic in a heated manner could all do the trick. As poet Maya Angelou has most aptly observed: “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”
Perhaps the greatest pointer is to be an engaged listener. When you are listening, be attentive. The best conversationalist is a good listener.
What are the subconscious questions on everyone’s mind?
Business Insider recently interviewed Harvard Business School professor Amy Cuddy on the judgmental questions people unconsciously have in their minds when meeting another for the first time. Cuddy has been studying first impressions for more than 15 years, and she says people quickly answer two questions when they first meet you:
- Can I trust this person?
- Can I respect this person?
Psychologists refer to these dimensions as “warmth” and “competence” respectively, and ideally you want to be perceived as having both.
Cuddy says that most people, especially in a professional context, believe that competence is the more important factor. After all, they want to prove that they are smart and talented enough to handle your business.
But in fact warmth, or trustworthiness, is the most important factor in how people evaluate you. “From an evolutionary perspective,” Cuddy says, “it is more crucial to our survival to know whether a person deserves our trust.” He explains, when you consider primitive cavemen days, it was more important to figure out if your fellow man was going to kill you and steal all your possessions than if he was competent enough to build a good fire.
Trustworthiness. Respect. You have 7 to 12 seconds to demonstrate both a trusting and a respectful character.
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