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12 Lessons to Good First Impressions


Guest articles > 12 Lessons to Good First Impressions


by: Niall Devitt


Within the first few seconds of any encounter you are evaluated by the prospect. Your appearance, demeanour and body language all contribute to quickly create a first impression. This judgement happens primarily on a subconscious level and once made is extremely difficult to reverse. The prospect’s subconscious is asking the question “can I trust this person”. Follow these twelve key lessons and learn to influence this judgement in a positive way helping you to make a great first impression.

Lesson Number 1: Do your research

Do your homework, who are the key people? What are the products? Who are their customers? Are there any big plans for the future? Today you can use the Internet to get lots of information about the prospect but its also always worth ringing ahead a few days in advance to gather any relevant insight.

Lesson Number 2: Get focused

So the baby was sick and traffic is awful. Take a deep breath, leave your troubles behind and ensure that your focus is entirely set on the meeting.

Lesson Number 3: Good time keeping

Plan for unforeseen events like traffic etc and aim to get there with time to spare. Lateness is one sure fire way of killing off any chance of a good first impression.

Lesson Number 4: Be Confident

Expect to do business and your words, tone and body language will send out all the right signals. Successful people give off a successful image so even when you are having a bad month, approach every new business encounter in an open and confidant manner.

Lesson Number 5: Dress to Impress

This is the first visual clue that the prospect gets and making an extra effort will pay dividends. As far as the prospect is concerned If you look sharper than the competition changes are you are sharper then the competition.

Lesson Number 6: Keep an open stance

Ensure that your stance is open particularly during introductions. Try to be aware of giving any negative of defensive subconscious gestures such as folding of arms, putting point of sale materials in front of your torso etc.

Lesson Number 7: Smile, smile, smile

The most powerful subconscious tool you have at your disposal is your smile so use it. When you smile at someone, they will smile back and start to relax in your company. Remember, smiling is infectious.

Lesson Number 8: Always offer a firm handshake

A firm handshake helps to imply that you are a confidence and honest person. A loose weak handshake says don’t trust me, I got something to hide.

Lesson Number 9: Keep good eye contact

Ensure that you keep eye contact when addressing someone and when they are talking to you. Good eye contact says, you can trust me, I’m interested in what you have say because its also important to me.

Lesson Number 10: Slow down introductions

When you are introduced, slow down the process taking time to remember the names and positions of the people that are been introduced. We generally tend to rush through introductions and later find we cant remember the names and positions of the people we have just been introduced to.

Lesson Number 11: Use first names.

Once the introductions are over, use people’s first names when addressing your audience or asking questions. This helps to quickly build trust with prospects.

Lesson Number 12: Be an obvious listener

Good listening skills require concentration, focus and effort. Let them see that your attention is directly focused on him or her through use of eye contact, nodding and by avoiding any mental distractions.


The ability to create a good first impression is a potent skill in any business encounter but unfortunately is often not considered important. As with any skill worth mastering, it requires planning, practice and thought and while a good first impression can help overcome later difficulties or objections, a bad first impression is virtually impossible to reverse which effectively means you lose any opportunity to do business before you even start the business meeting.


Niall Devitt is a training consultant and business mentor. With over a decade of experience working as senior sales manager and trainer for some of Ireland’s top companies his expertise lies in creating and implementing performance driven sales programmes. Niall is regularly asked to contribute business articles and his advice has been published through the Irish National Press and broadcast on Radio. Visit his blog on business know-how at

Contributor: Niall Devitt

Published here on: 02-May-08

Classification: Sales, Communication


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