Make the Most of Your First 7 Seconds to Make an Impression
I want you to count to seven with me. Out loud – one, two, three, four, five, six, seven.
That’s how long you’ve got to make a good first impression.
When I am presenting to a group about my ececutive coaching program, I often start my speeches this way – and when I drop that little pearl of truth on the podium, it always stuns my audience. I can hear them thinking (and sometimes murmuring) – Seven seconds? Is that really it? Yes, it really is. That number is based on the groundbreaking research of Professor Albert Mehrabian, who conducted studies on nonverbal communication and came to a surprising discovery: When you first meet someone, they are forming an impression of you in ways you may not realize:
• 55 percent of your first impression is based on how you look and behave;
• 38 percent is based on how you speak;
• only 7 percent is based on what you actually have to say.
Shocking, isn’t it? It changes everything when you realize that you could be babbling your head off and still make a great impression just by being impeccably put together and presenting yourself well. Or, more frightening, that you could be giving an amazing speech, but people would still be reluctant to respect you if you put forward a poor appearance.
Of course it is not this simple, but the message is clear: if you want to make an impact with new people, you had better pay attention to what I call your aura – the atmosphere surrounding you, which speaks volumes about you!
The idea that you only have a few seconds to make an impression is a powerful one, and that can be good and bad. I often have the privilege to work with powerful, wonderful people who have a lot to offer the world. They come to me seeking that magic formula to create a fantastic aura – but as I see it, a powerful aura comes from tapping into your inner power. And when you are worried about people making snap judgments about you, you can sometimes overlook the judgments you make on yourself.
When you look at yourself in the mirror, what do you say to yourself? What sorts of judgments and self-talk do you use?
“Another wrinkle? Everyone’s going to think I’m so old.”
“Oh no, I gained another pound. I hope no one notices how fat I am.”
7 Seconds to Make an Impression and Introduce Your Brand
When you talk to yourself this way, it permeates your entire personality and leaks into your presentation and your self-confidence. I also believe that this causes us to make more judgments about the people around us. Instead of living in this cycle of judgment, it’s vital that you learn to love who you are, for all your unique beauty, and practice appreciating and highlighting your best qualities. That way, when you next walk into a room, you exude an aura of confidence and happiness, that will shine a light on you and help create an amazing first impression.
Of course, having a killer outfit that plays up your strengths helps, too.