It’s widely known that within the first 30 seconds upon meeting someone we make approximately 10 assumptions about that person. A recent Forbes article claims that we make judgments or assumptions about a stranger within the first seven seconds. Those instant assumptions include thoughts about that person’s:
- Socio-economic level
- Moral character
- Friendliness or likeability
- Level of intelligence
- Degree of sophistication
- Cultural heritage
How accurate these instant impressions are is highly debated. With so much hinging on those first few seconds, speakers can boost the chances of making a positive first impression by paying attention to some key areas in appearance.
- Exude confidence. First impressions is a mental game. You have to feel confident to look confident. Use visualization to picture yourself speaking to an audience that is hanging on to your every word. They don’t take their eyes off of you! Imagine how it feels to clearly share your important message with people who are eager to hear from you.
- Smile and smile some more. A sincere smile is contagious and inviting. Presenters who walk on stage with a confident smile engage their audience immediately.
- Eye contact. Trust goes up when a speaker uses good eye contact. Looking down at the floor or up at the ceiling makes the listeners wonder why you won’t look at them. Hold eye contact with an individual for a few seconds or until you finish a thought then move on to someone else. Continue this throughout your presentation, taking in the entire room.
- Good posture. As simple as it sounds, standing up straight, shoulders back and down and head held high exudes confidence. Practice walking with a book balanced on your head–this is a great posture to use when walking onto stage (without the book!) Watch great speakers–notice how confident they appear when they stand up straight.
- Dress for success! This can mean different things in our “anything goes” culture today. The best guideline is to dress one level above how your audience will be dressed for the event. If the audience will be attending in jeans, business casual will be your best bet. Knowing you’re at your best when it comes to physical appearance will allow you to portray a significantly more positive first impression.
Kathy Pennell Cooperman leads seminars and coaches leaders on presentations skills. For more information on a free consultation, please contact Kathy at http://www.kathycooperman.com.