How do you make a good first impression?
Your posture, facial expression, positioning and the way you dress are four times more impactful to a person’s first impression than anything you say. The way information is conveyed also has a greater impact than the information itself.
The following video introduces the do’s and don’ts to making a good first impression from the way you look, your vocal tone and volume, body language and being personable.
Tips on delivery
Your pitch can affect audience interest. Avoid sounding monotoned, vary your tone and melody; inject passion, enthusiasm and energy in your voice to engage your audience. Your tone of voice needs to reflect the place or scenario you are in.
Vary your volume to draw attention to key parts of your presentation. Ensure you speak loud enough to be heard. Do not speak very softly, even when using a microphone. When speaking at a one to one level, adjust your volume; speaking too loudly could come across as intimidating.
Do not speak too quickly which may make you hard to follow. Speaking too slowly can cause you to lose your audience’s attention. Make sure you clearly articulate every word so you can be clearly understood. Provide natural breaks and pauses.
Make eye contact with everyone in your audience as this indicates you are focussed and paying attention. Smile to convey positivity and friendliness. Other facial expressions such as frowning can make you seem angry or disinterested causing the audience to feel on edge or anxious.
Stand up straight, looking directly at the audience or person during your presentation. Slouching, or having your hands in your pockets, conveys disinterest and unprofessionalism.
Repetitive words and gestures
Be aware that when nervous there may be words or nervous gestures that come to the fore when presenting. Try to breath and slow down your movements and thoughts to make sure that don't slip into the habit of repeating these gestures and words too frequently as this can be distracting for the audience. Practice in front of a ground of people can help with identifying what these nervous ticks can be.
Arm gestures help to reinforce your verbal messages and inject energy into your presentation. Keep gestures descriptive and use open palm gestures. If you are not sure what to do with your hands, drop them to your side for a short time.
If on a stage, make sure you stand where you can be seen by the whole audience. You do not have to stand behind a lectern, try standing to the side or in front of it. If seated, make sure everyone can see you, with your back turned to no-one
What you wear
First impressions are often formed from visual ques rather than verbal; the way you dress is a big part of creating a favourable first impression. Dress appropriately for the setting you are in, ensuring you look professional at all times.
Make it personal
Using personal anecdotes or stories helps to keep your audience engaged and interested.
Keep upbeat and energetic throughout, even if there have been issues beforehand, do not admit this. Do not apologise or complain at the start of your introduction as this sets a negative tone; inject passion and positivity into your presentation to inspire and engage your audience.