The success of speed dating in recent years has highlighted the large premium we place on first impressions.
So it is with meetings.
Except the time it takes for businesspeople to make up their minds about someone leaves speed dating’s two-to-five minutes looking like a veritable marathon.
That’s because it takes a businessperson just three seconds to instantly appraise you before determining if they wish to trade with you, according to career coach Jean Baur.
Three seconds. Even in today’s fast-forward society that gives hardly gives any time to make a good impression.
So how can you do so? Perhaps these 10 tips can help:
Always allow yourself plenty of time to get to a meeting 10 minutes early. Otherwise, you are behind before you start. If you fail to do so, you’ll arrive sweaty and flustered and the centre of attention for all the wrong reasons.
There’s no way around it. Businesspeople are no different from the rest of the human race in that they judge a book by its cover. So arrive well-kempt. Make-up, fingernails and hair should be attended to in a bid to keep your look professional.
Similarly with clothing, a suit or a tailored formal dress will convey a good first impression. Baur reckons the more formal the meeting, the darker the clothes should be.
A firm grip but one that isn’t going to break all 27 bones in your fellow shaker’s hand conveys sincerity. So does maintaining eye contact throughout the shake. This should be accompanied by a complimentary greeting such as “good to see you”.
Switch off your mobile phone
Pretend you’re in a cinema when it comes to mobiles. Few things create a worse impression than having to take a personal call only seconds into a meeting or, worse, during the introductions – especially if you have an annoying ringtone.
You may have been held up by public transport delays. But wipe that stress off you face and keep a pleasant, smiley countenance when being introduced.
Few things are more distracting or annoying that a meeting attendee who acts like they are incapable of staying still, constantly tapping their pen, or playing with their jewellery. It also betrays nervousness.
Posture can be key. Keeping upright denotes the right degree of confidence, whereas a hunched aspect shows a lack of self-esteem.
Manners maketh the man. Wait to be told to be seated. Never chew gum. Don’t touch agendas or other meeting accoutrements until given the go-ahead.
Mind your language
No, we’re not referring to bad language here. Avoiding that is a given. We’re talking about repetitive use of “nothing” words that language and body language experts will see through straight away as indicating nerves. These include “obviously”, “actually” and “basically”. All are over-used in meetings.
Posted by Julie Tucker