It all starts with the first impression


First bump between colleagues at work

How long do you really have before you make that all important first impression?

Is it 5 seconds, 10 seconds or perhaps a little longer?

Researchers at Princeton University believe that it takes only one tenth of a second for someone to judge us as soon as they see our face.

That may be difficult for some people to believe.

Think about the last time you were introduced to a stranger

Didn’t you get a feeling about them in an instant?

It’s largely an unconscious process but, we are all ‘hard-wired’ to do it.

Do they look like a person I can trust, are they:

– Intelligent

– Important

– Competent

– Nice

We are conditioned by experience to make instant yet very complex computations on a person’s status.

We can do this before they even utter a single word.

Public speakers and presenters face the daunting and exceptionally difficult challenge of making that crucial first impression count.

The first impression they make can affect their entire presentation.

Everything they do moments before they speak, matter too

Imagine your audience has arrived to find you fiddling with cables, flicking through slides or pacing up and down.

Whatever you are doing the moment they walk into the room contributes greatly to your first impression.

Be prepared

Always get to venue at least an hour early.

Do all of your fiddling, flicking and pa

cing before anyone arrives.

By the time your first audience member arrives you should be completely free of all technical and preparatory distractions.

Be ready to meet and greet them with a firm handshake and confident smile.


If it’s within your gift to do so, make it your business to meet as many people as you possibly can and exchange a few words before you take to the platform to speak.

Slow and silent

That’s how you should start.

Walk up slowly but purposefully with a straight posture and shoulders back.

Pause for brief moment and smile before you say a word.

Image is everything

Dressing smartly shouts out success and instils confidence so make sure you look your very best. That includes your shoes too.

Drop the name

Don’t start with ‘My name is John Smith and I’m the head of technology’. Your audience should already know that.

Make them curious

The first impression you need to make is that you have something really important to say. You won’t achieve that by telling them how many offices you have and how wonderful you are.

Try this instead:

– Tell them a true, relevant and powerful story

– Make them feel something, surprised, shocked, happy concerned, etc.

– Ask them a question. One of my personal favourite TED talks by Simon Sinek opens with the question, “How do you explain when things don’t go as we assumed? Or better, how do you explain when others are able to achieve things that seem to defy all of the assumptions?

– Help them to imagine something, the future perhaps.

Be at ease

If you are relaxed and comfortable up on your feet then your audience can sit back in the comfort and knowledge that they are in safe hands. Before you take to the stage to present take a few moments to breathe deeply, meditate or practice self-hypnosis.

Be an 8 of clubs

The key to a good presentation is confidence.

Imagine holding in your hands a pack of playing cards with the royalty removed.

Each number represents a level of confidence.

If you’re holding an ace, that’s the equivalent of a one which means you have the lowest confidence. A 10 however means you have the highest level.

Practice being an 8

We all know what an 8 looks and feels like in terms of a level of confidence. Practice being an 8 and carry one with you when you next present.

The reason the old saying ‘ You only get one chance to make a first impression’ has been around for so long is because its true.

Use these tips to make yours a good one the next time you speak.

If you need making that all important first impression:

– Book yourself onto a powerful public speaking course.

– Invest in some really good one to one public speaking coaching.

– Get yourself some excellent presentation training

Image: Courtesy of

Image: Courtesy of

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