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You Only Have 7 Seconds To Leave A Good First Impression. Here’s How You Can Nail It.

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You Only Have 7 Seconds To Leave A Good First Impression. Here’s How You Can Nail It.

There are 86,400 seconds in a day. More than 30 million seconds in a year.

But it only takes 7 seconds to form a first impression.[1]

And these 7 seconds can change your coming years if not the entire life.

7 seconds to leave an impressive first impression on your future partner.

7 seconds to make your prospective employer think you’re trustworthy and bright in an interview.

If we know how to make the best out of these magical 7 second of time, it can be a pot of gold. We will be well ahead of the others.

If You Make A Bad First Impression, You Can Hardly Change It Afterwards…

Wait.. First impression isn’t that important. People can eventually understand who we are actually capable of through interaction afterwards. We can easily prove who we really are later on, can’t we?

Well… Of course we hope we can.

But science has revealed at least twice the effort is required to change the first impression.[2]

The die is cast at the very beginning.

First Impression Is A Trick The Brain Plays On Us

Ever heard of anchoring effect and confirmation bias?

Anchoring effect is the tendency to base too heavily on the first given piece of information to make decision.[3]

Confirmation bias is the tendency to favor in a way that confirms the preexisting beliefs and hypotheses. More importantly, disproportionately consideration is given to the alternative possibility.

What do they do with first impression?[4]

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First, with limited understanding of new friends we meet, we tend to instantly rely on our intuitive to form our perceptions of who they are.

Second, confirmation bias makes it difficult for us to change our biased perceptions. When we further interact with our new friends, we will keep collecting information to prove our judgement is right and ignore anything against our beliefs.

That means, first impression is the by-product of our biased minds.

Do I Need To Disguise Myself If I Want To Leave A Good Impression?

Nah. Not to be confused between ‘impressing others’ and ‘leaving a good impression’.

Impressing others means changing ourselves to fit in others’ expectations.

Leaving a good impression means showing your best self to the others. No changing is involved at all.

Don’t pretend. Don’t disguise. Don’t hide our true self.

The key is that we want the others feel good by our presence, as if the way we want to be treated when we meet new friends.

True. We should not judge a book by its cover. But who will bother picking up the book if its cover scares people off? In order for others to explore us further and deeper, we need to seek a way for them to be interested in us at the very first.

Be a book with rich content as well as an attractive cover.

How To 100% Make Sure I Leave A Great First Impression

Well, leaving a good impression can be done in a multitude of ways. From clothing to posture, from talking style to body language. Below are several tips for you to begin with:[5]

Physical Appearance Matters. We’re Visual Creatures After All.

Before actually knowing you deeper through interaction, physical appearance is the first clue one relies on to interpret who we are.

Besides, it is a way to show respect by choosing appropriate attire for different settings. It also means the person means something to us by dressing properly.

If it is a business setting, be aware of the dress code or culture. The requirement varies from culture to culture. A thumbs-up here does not mean the same elsewhere. Do the research!

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Grooming and dressing are the key here. Are you cleanly shaved? Is your hairstyle messy? Are the clothes neat and tidy? The neatness and tidiness from all these little areas affect much on the impression on the whole.

Don’t Fake A Smile. People Will Doubt Your Sincerity.

    ▲ (Left) A fake smile vs (Right) A genuine smile

    Don’t squeeze a fake smile. A fake smile looks unnatural and it may even creep people out. It can potentially do more harm than good in our attempts to leave a good impression.

    Then what makes a genuine smile?

    A genuine smile means a Duchenne smile. It means when you smile, you raise the muscles at the corner of your mouth, of your cheeks and of your eyebrows. Smile is only genuine when our brows are raising and more importantly. It is an involuntary action.[6]

    It is understandable that sometimes it is hard to suddenly crack a smile. Then at least try not to look intimidating and grumpy!

    Positivity plays a crucial part in shaping our first impression.

    Look Into People’s Eyes Until You See The Colors of Their Irises

    Maintaining a moderate amount of eye contact delivers a sense of intimacy to the one we interact with. Consequently, they feel more connected to us and tend to be more positive toward the interaction and our content.

    What makes a quality eye contact? Well, try to identify the color of the others’ irises. Get it? That makes a good eye contact example.

    Moreover, numerous studies have shown that eye contact is associated with the following traits:

    Attractive. Competent. Trustworthy. Sincere. Confident.

    Are these the impression we want to leave? Stop staring at the ground and look at people in the eye then!

    It’s Not About What You Speak But How You Speak

    The manner we talk also contributes to our success in leaving a good impression.

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    Dressing and grooming, check.

    Smile, check.

    Eye contact, check.

    We are confident about our qualification. Now, delivery is the key.

    Don’t rush your answer. Think thoroughly before any words come out of our mouth. Rapid answering gives an impression of insecurity and anxiety. Yet, don’t stay too long to answer or you appear hesitant. Try to ask ourselves whether the answer is complete and perfect. Fine? Then answer.

    Give ourselves a break of one to two seconds before answering. We need time to put it in the best possible way.

    The tempo matters too. Never speak too fast. It’s difficult to capture the gist in a machine-gun style of flow. It is lethal to any interaction. It is deadly to our impression.

    Instead, talk with ease. Have a steady and calm flow. Properly segment our sentences to ensure the others can follow us and get the idea.

    Tones play a role too. Moderate alternation of tones avoids us sounding too dull and monotonous. A slightly raise or dip of tone can hint on the important part of the message. Raise of volume also works.

    In the end, we will find ourselves sounding more appealing than we can imagine.

    Never Perform Your One-Man Show In Communication

    The notion ‘interaction’ implies the participation of everyone. None is solely responsible to do the talking part and neither is listening.

    Remember conversation is a turn-taking action. We talk. They listen. They respond. We listen.

    It is simply nonsense to constantly talking, depriving others of their opportunities to speak.

    I know we are eager to show our best self. I know we can’t wait to express our brilliant thoughts. Sometimes it is essential for others to respond to us.

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    Learning to be a good listener is often overlooked by gifted speakers.

    While listening, take notes of what the others are talking about. Attend to the others’ speaking by leaning slightly toward them.

    Don’t idle our minds away. Communication involves interaction. If we only concern our own content and never respond, this is called ‘turn-taking individual speaking’, which is definitely irrelevant to leaving a good impression.

    Do You Hate Compliments? I Don’t

    Look for something to praise the others. It can bring closer one another and connect with others more.

    If we are thinking about the physical appearance, be careful! It appears superficial to comment on the looks of other people.

    Try to turn to the dressing styles. Compliment on them.

    Are they well matched? Does the color bring about some enlightening power?

    Remember conversation is interactive. If we praise the others, they are more willing to praise us and BINGO! We get the desired remarks and impression.

    Remember that 7 seconds are enough to change your life!

    Lastly, there are two videos to give you some insights on how to leave a good impression at work and in the first date:[7] [8]

    Reference

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    Jeffrey Lau

    Editor. Sport Lover. Animal Lover.

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    Last Updated on July 20, 2021

    How to Overcome the Fear of Public Speaking (A Step-by-Step Guide)

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    How to Overcome the Fear of Public Speaking (A Step-by-Step Guide)

    You’re standing behind the curtain, just about to make your way on stage to face the many faces half-shrouded in darkness in front of you. As you move towards the spotlight, your body starts to feel heavier with each step. A familiar thump echoes throughout your body – your heartbeat has gone off the charts.

    Don’t worry, you’re not the only one with glossophobia(also known as speech anxiety or the fear of speaking to large crowds). Sometimes, the anxiety happens long before you even stand on stage.

    Your body’s defence mechanism responds by causing a part of your brain to release adrenaline into your blood – the same chemical that gets released as if you were being chased by a lion.

    Here’s a step-by-step guide to help you overcome your fear of public speaking:

    1. Prepare yourself mentally and physically

    According to experts, we’re built to display anxiety and to recognize it in others. If your body and mind are anxious, your audience will notice. Hence, it’s important to prepare yourself before the big show so that you arrive on stage confident, collected and ready.

    “Your outside world is a reflection of your inside world. What goes on in the inside, shows on the outside.” – Bob Proctor

    Exercising lightly before a presentation helps get your blood circulating and sends oxygen to the brain. Mental exercises, on the other hand, can help calm the mind and nerves. Here are some useful ways to calm your racing heart when you start to feel the butterflies in your stomach:

    Warming up

    If you’re nervous, chances are your body will feel the same way. Your body gets tense, your muscles feel tight or you’re breaking in cold sweat. The audience will notice you are nervous.

    If you observe that this is exactly what is happening to you minutes before a speech, do a couple of stretches to loosen and relax your body. It’s better to warm up before every speech as it helps to increase the functional potential of the body as a whole. Not only that, it increases muscle efficiency, improves reaction time and your movements.

    Here are some exercises to loosen up your body before show time:

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    1. Neck and shoulder rolls – This helps relieve upper body muscle tension and pressure as the rolls focus on rotating the head and shoulders, loosening the muscle. Stress and anxiety can make us rigid within this area which can make you feel agitated, especially when standing.
    2. Arm stretches – We often use this part of our muscles during a speech or presentation through our hand gestures and movements. Stretching these muscles can reduce arm fatigue, loosen you up and improve your body language range.
    3. Waist twists – Place your hands on your hips and rotate your waist in a circular motion. This exercise focuses on loosening the abdominal and lower back regions which is essential as it can cause discomfort and pain, further amplifying any anxieties you may experience.

    Stay hydrated

    Ever felt parched seconds before speaking? And then coming up on stage sounding raspy and scratchy in front of the audience? This happens because the adrenaline from stage fright causes your mouth to feel dried out.

    To prevent all that, it’s essential we stay adequately hydrated before a speech. A sip of water will do the trick. However, do drink in moderation so that you won’t need to go to the bathroom constantly.

    Try to avoid sugary beverages and caffeine, since it’s a diuretic – meaning you’ll feel thirstier. It will also amplify your anxiety which prevents you from speaking smoothly.

    Meditate

    Meditation is well-known as a powerful tool to calm the mind. ABC’s Dan Harris, co-anchor of Nightline and Good Morning America weekend and author of the book titled10% Happier , recommends that meditation can help individuals to feel significantly calmer, faster.

    Meditation is like a workout for your mind. It gives you the strength and focus to filter out the negativity and distractions with words of encouragement, confidence and strength.

    Mindfulness meditation, in particular, is a popular method to calm yourself before going up on the big stage. The practice involves sitting comfortably, focusing on your breathing and then bringing your mind’s attention to the present without drifting into concerns about the past or future – which likely includes floundering on stage.

    Here’s a nice example of guided meditation before public speaking:

    2. Focus on your goal

    One thing people with a fear of public speaking have in common is focusing too much on themselves and the possibility of failure.

    Do I look funny? What if I can’t remember what to say? Do I look stupid? Will people listen to me? Does anyone care about what I’m talking about?’

    Instead of thinking this way, shift your attention to your one true purpose – contributing something of value to your audience.

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    Decide on the progress you’d like your audience to make after your presentation. Notice their movements and expressions to adapt your speech to ensure that they are having a good time to leave the room as better people.

    If your own focus isn’t beneficial and what it should be when you’re speaking, then shift it to what does. This is also key to establishing trust during your presentation as the audience can clearly see that you have their interests at heart.[1]

    3. Convert negativity to positivity

    There are two sides constantly battling inside of us – one is filled with strength and courage while the other is doubt and insecurities. Which one will you feed?

    ‘What if I mess up this speech? What if I’m not funny enough? What if I forget what to say?’

    It’s no wonder why many of us are uncomfortable giving a presentation. All we do is bring ourselves down before we got a chance to prove ourselves. This is also known as a self-fulfilling prophecy – a belief that comes true because we are acting as if it already is. If you think you’re incompetent, then it will eventually become true.

    Motivational coaches tout that positive mantras and affirmations tend to boost your confidents for the moments that matter most. Say to yourself: “I’ll ace this speech and I can do it!”

    Take advantage of your adrenaline rush to encourage positive outcome rather than thinking of the negative ‘what ifs’.

    Here’s a video of Psychologist Kelly McGonigal who encourages her audience to turn stress into something positive as well as provide methods on how to cope with it:

    4. Understand your content

    Knowing your content at your fingertips helps reduce your anxiety because there is one less thing to worry about. One way to get there is to practice numerous times before your actual speech.

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    However, memorizing your script word-for-word is not encouraged. You can end up freezing should you forget something. You’ll also risk sounding unnatural and less approachable.

    “No amount of reading or memorizing will make you successful in life. It is the understanding and the application of wise thought that counts.” – Bob Proctor

    Many people unconsciously make the mistake of reading from their slides or memorizing their script word-for-word without understanding their content – a definite way to stress themselves out.

    Understanding your speech flow and content makes it easier for you to convert ideas and concepts into your own words which you can then clearly explain to others in a conversational manner. Designing your slides to include text prompts is also an easy hack to ensure you get to quickly recall your flow when your mind goes blank.[2]

    One way to understand is to memorize the over-arching concepts or ideas in your pitch. It helps you speak more naturally and let your personality shine through. It’s almost like taking your audience on a journey with a few key milestones.

    5. Practice makes perfect

    Like most people, many of us are not naturally attuned to public speaking. Rarely do individuals walk up to a large audience and present flawlessly without any research and preparation.

    In fact, some of the top presenters make it look easy during showtime because they have spent countless hours behind-the-scenes in deep practice. Even great speakers like the late John F. Kennedy would spend months preparing his speech beforehand.

    Public speaking, like any other skill, requires practice – whether it be practicing your speech countless of times in front of a mirror or making notes. As the saying goes, practice makes perfect!

    6. Be authentic

    There’s nothing wrong with feeling stressed before going up to speak in front of an audience.

    Many people fear public speaking because they fear others will judge them for showing their true, vulnerable self. However, vulnerability can sometimes help you come across as more authentic and relatable as a speaker.

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    Drop the pretence of trying to act or speak like someone else and you’ll find that it’s worth the risk. You become more genuine, flexible and spontaneous, which makes it easier to handle unpredictable situations – whether it’s getting tough questions from the crowd or experiencing an unexpected technical difficulty.

    To find out your authentic style of speaking is easy. Just pick a topic or issue you are passionate about and discuss this like you normally would with a close family or friend. It is like having a conversation with someone in a personal one-to-one setting. A great way to do this on stage is to select a random audience member(with a hopefully calming face) and speak to a single person at a time during your speech. You’ll find that it’s easier trying to connect to one person at a time than a whole room.

    With that said, being comfortable enough to be yourself in front of others may take a little time and some experience, depending how comfortable you are with being yourself in front of others. But once you embrace it, stage fright will not be as intimidating as you initially thought.

    Presenters like Barack Obama are a prime example of a genuine and passionate speaker:

    7. Post speech evaluation

    Last but not the least, if you’ve done public speaking and have been scarred from a bad experience, try seeing it as a lesson learned to improve yourself as a speaker.

    Don’t beat yourself up after a presentation

    We are the hardest on ourselves and it’s good to be. But when you finish delivering your speech or presentation, give yourself some recognition and a pat on the back.

    You managed to finish whatever you had to do and did not give up. You did not let your fears and insecurities get to you. Take a little more pride in your work and believe in yourself.

    Improve your next speech

    As mentioned before, practice does make perfect. If you want to improve your public speaking skills, try asking someone to film you during a speech or presentation. Afterwards, watch and observe what you can do to improve yourself next time.

    Here are some questions you can ask yourself after every speech:

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    • How did I do?
    • Are there any areas for improvement?
    • Did I sound or look stressed?
    • Did I stumble on my words? Why?
    • Was I saying “um” too often?
    • How was the flow of the speech?

    Write everything you observed down and keep practicing and improving. In time, you’ll be able to better manage your fears of public speaking and appear more confident when it counts.

    If you want even more tips about public speaking or delivering a great presentation, check out these articles too:

    Reference

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