Recently, I was an inspirational speaker for a healthcare conference. I was getting coffee before my motivational speech when a gentleman came up next to me and said, "You look like you could use a pick me up." I laughed self consciously and said, "Excuse me?" He replied, "Oh, sorry! You just look a bit worse for wear."
Why? Apparently it was because of the sour look I had on my face as I was lost in my own thoughts. Wow. What an uncomfortable spot to be in. I was about to get up in front of 1,000 healthcare professionals (this man included) and give a motivational speech designed to compel them to lighten up!
Apparently it's true that we only have a few seconds to make a first impression. Even before saying a word, people draw conclusions on our personality based on what they see. After this encounter I have decided to brush up on my skills to establish a favorable first impression.
If people assume you are mean and unapproachable than they won't be naturally drawn to speak with you (or listen to your motivational speech).
When it come to body language experts suggest that our bodies betray our thoughts.
From my quick research, here is what to consider to Make a Good First Impression:
- Smile. A sour look on your face is always a turn off. It leads people to make false assumptions that you are upset with them or distraught about something or just plain crabby. Smiling inspires confidence.
- Lean forward to show interest and make eye contact; it demonstrates both interest and confidence.
- Stand up straight. It makes you look younger, thinner and more energized (vs looking lethargic, beat-down and bored).
- Nod and shake hands. Put others at ease by being the first to introduce yourself. Read: Rules for a proper handshake.
- Dress appropriately. The clothing your choose makes a strong impression, so dress for the occasion. Like I continually nag my brother, brush your hair, wear deodorant, floss, shave, etc. Don't let your appearance work against you before you even say a word! The other inspirational speaker for the healthcare conference was wearing a dashing, smart looking pin striped suit, and he was perfectly groomed. I sat up as soon as he appeared to listen to his motivational speech because anyone who dresses like this commands attention.