Right or wrong, so much is decided about you in the first few seconds of meeting someone. This is the point where you are often viewed as worthy of the other party’s further attention – or not.
And this is where corporate careers and acting skills often converge.
First – Grab Their Attention
When interviewing for a position or promoting your brand at a conference, you’ll likely find yourself about to make an entrance into a room or onto a stage just as actors do. And, at the end of the meeting or presentation, you’ll also have to make an exit.
These are both crucial moments when making a first impression!
I can’t tell you how many people (actors and business people alike) blow their entrances. They throw that precious opportunity away by:
- Rushing, conveying nervous anticipation
- Allowing themselves to be led rather than leading
- Not using the room to their advantage
Making an entrance should be used as a natural way to sell yourself in thirty seconds. If you don’t have passion, energy, and animation in the first thirty seconds of your interview or presentation, you’re missing what may be your best chance to get the job or make the sale.
Easier said than done, you say?
Here are some strategic tips to make your first impression really count.
- If the door was closed as you enter the room, close it again behind you (or simply ask if it should be left open or closed).
- If you do close the door, don’t turn your body to close it. Feel for it with a free hand, keeping your body open and facing the others in the room.
- Take your time. This takes a little practice, but it’s worth it.
Taking Your Due
Every first impression depends on this often overlooked concept. I want you to understand the importance of what actors call ‘taking your due’. Practicing these strategies will help keep your first impression from being your last one!
Don’t ever close the door and start speaking at the same time. This sends the message that neither you nor your words deserve to stand alone and be heard. Standing with presence and acting as though you’ve earned this moment is known as ‘taking your due’.
“Due” is defined as something that is owed or naturally belongs to someone. Remind yourself that you’ve worked for this moment, and you deserve it. If you haven’t earned it, take care of that later, but for now, act like you have. In turn, people will treat you as if you deserve it. This alone is great for building confidence.
Now is the moment when all of your talents and skills need to be gathered up and readied for positive (and authentic) release. At this moment you should be filled with passion, energy, and animation!
A sure way to grab someone’s attention is to know and use their name.
Give your greeting, followed by your name if this is a first meeting, and be sure to include the name of the person you’re meeting in your greeting: “Good morning, Mrs. Harrison, I’m Laurie Burton!”
Now, here is a first impression decision you’ll need to make on your own.
I always make it a point to shake hands with the person I’m meeting, even if I have to reach across a desk to do so. I know there are some who will totally disagree with this and say it’s an invasion of another’s personal space, and that’s fine, but if somebody doesn’t come around the desk, stand up or welcome me in some way, there is no way I’m going to let that moment pass without making physical contact.
I believe this is an important part of ‘taking your due’ because, in that moment, YOU take charge of the way you’re treated. Make that handshake count. You don’t have to grab the hand, but firmly taking it while looking directly into their eyes can make a strong first impression.
And there is no better way to make a first impression than to leave a great impression!
Leave a great impression by leaving the meeting or presentation with the same confidence, style, and presence with which you entered the room or platform.
Stage actors take a bow, acknowledging their audience. You should also take a moment to pause and sincerely thank those you have just addressed. Give them a reason to remember you and you give yourself the potential for an encore performance.