How to make or break your first impression


In my workshops, attendees often talk about how they'd like to make better first impressions.

Most of us think we subscribe to the concept that we judge people based on knowing them for an extended period of time. The reality is often another story. Back in my acting days, we worked on our monologues for auditions tirelessly. But we ALSO worked on:

  • How we walked into a room (confident, but friendly)

  • How we said our name (declarative, without an up inflection - like a question)

  • Making eye contact with the auditors and smiling when first entering the audition room

  • Rehearsing saying the name of the piece we’d be performing as well as the author and character in a clear, confident way

So why on earth would we focus all this attention on what seems like innocuous behavior? Because first impressions can make or break your ability to get the job. First impressions carry a lot of weight, and whether you’re interviewing for a job, leading a new team, or pitching an idea, the way people perceive you has everything to do with your ability to get what you’re seeking.

But if you’re overbooked, stressed, and running from one to event to another, how do you actually shift gears? You just need 20 - 30 seconds before you’re due to connect or speak. The bathroom is often a great place for this:

  • Breathe in through the nose for 3 full seconds

  • Hold for 1 second

  • Exhale super slowly through the mouth for 7 full seconds

Don’t have that much time? As you grasp the doorknob to go into your meeting. Stop for 3 seconds and take a deep belly breath, exhale, then walk in.

The effort you put into making a positive first impression lays the groundwork that gets results. The thought bubble in the head of your audience says “this is someone I’d like to work with,” and everything from there on out becomes much easier.

So, spend time working on making a positive, friendly connection with potential clients, employers… as many people as you can because you never know how they might be able to help you out.