I’m on my Toastmasters soapbox again. If you are a professional and want to improve yourself, get to a Toastmasters meeting. You will develop so many skills beyond public speaking.
Today I’m thrilled to share this speech by David Hardwick, a member of my club–Piedmont Toastmasters. I asked David to share these words of wisdom to help you out. Check out David’s credentials and his speech notes at the end of this. Enjoy and learn. Do I need to say it again? Join Toastmasters!
How to make a good first impression
First impressions – ever have one?
We all know the quote from Will Rogers, “You never get a second chance to make a first impression.”
Sonya Parker urges us to not settle for a good impression, settle for a lasting impression.
So I set out to find out what the experts say about making a good and lasting first impression. I studied 7 different sources that listed out “the X best ways to make a good first impression.”
I wrote out all the lists of “how to make a good first impression,” and I noticed commonalities among the recommendations. That allowed me to write my own list: “Hardwick’s 7 ways to make a good and lasting first impression!”
During my research, I stumbled upon the work of Professor Amy Cuddy, a social psychology professor at Harvard Business School. Amy and two of her colleagues have been studying first impressions for the past 15 years.
They have found that 80% of first impressions boil down to two fundamental questions.
• Can I trust this person?
• Is this person competent?
Using Amy’s research, I then compared and contrasted each tip on my list of seven against the dimensions of trust and competence.
Without further ado, here’s my list of 7 ways to make a good and lasting impression.
#1 – Look good!
Wear nice attire, be well-groomed. This is related more closely with confidence. You’re not going to put someone in front of your customers if they’re not well groomed. If they don’t understand what attire to wear for certain occasions, that’s not someone you think is very capable.
#2 – Be positive
Be positive: in your face, in your smile, in the words you’re using, and in your body language. When someone is positive, they have a “can do” attitude. YOU are going to think they’re capable, that they’re confident of overcoming obstacles because they are positive.
Everything about them is saying they can do something. Make everything about you say, “I can do anything.”
#3 – Pay attention
This means eye contact, active listening, putting the phone away and demonstrating real interest. Listen like this is your first date. Listen like your boss is telling you what you need to do in order to get a raise. That’s active listening. And that type of listening builds trust, right? “Wow, this person is actually listening to me!”
#4 – Be prepared
That requires you to know your audience. Do some research. Think about their intentions and your intentions.
Now you should have a good basis for some small talk and an opportunity to make a connection (a lasting impression). That type of preparation is going to demonstrate how capable you are in a challenging situation.
#5 – Be authentic, be yourself
You have to be yourself, because if you try to put on a veneer or a veil of what you think you need to be, it will soon be discovered what truly lies beneath. Then trust will be gone for a long time.
#6 – Practice!
Practice the verbal communication you’re going to have, the words you’re going to use, the tone of your words, and body language. Make sure it’s positive. You’re looking in the mirror to see your facial expression. You’re recording your voice to hear your vocal variety.
Basically, you should practice like you’re speaking at Toastmasters. That type of practice, just like preparation, is going to demonstrate you are capable.
# 7 – Follow up
Trust is about an expectation of results. If you say you’re going to do something, then you’d better do it. Therefore, if you committed to doing something, no matter how small or big the commitment, make sure you follow up.
Here are seven practices to make a good and lasting first impression and bolster what 80% of us are looking for in a first impression – trust and competence.
- Be well-groomed — Good attire, haircut, etc.
- Be Positive. — With your smile, your words, your body language.
- Pay attention — Like it’s your first date or your boss is giving you an important task.
- Be prepared — Know your audience. Do some research. Cross-reference each other’s intentions, and use that to make a connection.
- Be authentic, be yourself — You’re not going to build trust by trying to be somebody else — you can’t keep that up for long
- Practice — Just like you do for a Toastmasters speech.
- Follow up — Do what you said you were going to do.
I hope these 7 tips help you make a good and lasting first impression and demonstrate you as trustworthy and capable.
David Hardwick is the Chief Technology Officer of BetterCloud, leading a team of 80 technologists that continue to grow and amaze him. He’s supported by his amazing wife, son, and daughter.
Thanks, David, for letting me share your speech with the MentorLoft gang. I hope you’ve inspired them to create a good and lasting impression and to–wait for it–join Toastmasters! Check out our blog on speaking tips and watch the video.
© Pamela A. Scott, MentorLoft.com 2017