How To Create A Good First Impression In An Important Business Meeting

We live in a world that’s full of contradictions. On the one hand, we have the very well-known saying that you shouldn't judge a book by its cover. On the other hand, we have people telling us that first impressions are vital because people will ultimately judge you based on their first impression when meeting you. I find both things are somewhat true; it’s easy to misjudge someone right away, but you really do benefit from a good first impression.

Especially in the business world, where the success of a company hinges on an important meeting. Let’s set the scene right now. You’ve got a business, and you’re about to meet with some important clients or investors that can pretty much shape the future of your organization. If all goes well, you could see a massive influx of money, which helps you bring your business to life. Fail, and it could be a major setback that means you struggle for eternity. Who knows, one day you could look back at this moment as you close your business for good, wondering what might have been if the meeting went well.

So, you’ve got this big meeting coming up, how do you prepare for it? Naturally, there are loads of things you should do to ensure you’re ready for the meeting, and you have all the information and main points driven into your brain. However, the success of the meeting can hinge on the first few seconds/minutes. If you create a good first impression, it puts you on the front foot, and the odds are in your favor. Create a bad one, and you’re swimming upstream from the word go.

Ultimately, I can’t tell you how to prepare all your notes and talking points as every business may have a different type of meeting. What I can do is teach you how to make a great first impression, and provide your company with a strong base to begin the meeting.

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Make Sure You Present Yourself Appropriately

Right away, we go back to that saying about judging books by covers. In a meeting, your cover will be well and truly judged from the moment people lay eyes on you. Primarily, the attendees of your interview are looking for someone that looks professional, intelligent, and trustworthy. So, if you turn up in sweatpants and a baggy jumper, with your hair all tangly and unwashed, what do you think the likely response will be? In their minds, they already think less of you because you’ve attended an important meeting looking like you’ve just got out of bed.

It’s crucial that you present yourself appropriately at this meeting. Dress and style yourself how you would expect someone to dress and style themselves at a meeting. The dress code should be professional, think about typical office fashion when you’re trying on clothes in the morning. You have to look like you’re the boss like you actually run a business and don’t just fetch the coffee. The clothes you wear can convey a sense of power if you make the right choice.

Likewise, pay attention to your hairstyle and makeup. The way your hair is cut and styled makes such a difference to your appearance and the way people perceive you. Imagine you rock up to the meeting with your hair in pigtails or plaits, it will make you look immature. Now, I’m not saying you have to tie your hair up in a strict bun to convey the right image. There are plenty of cute haircuts for both short and long hairstyles that convey professionalism and confidence too. Just make sure you’ve washed your hair, and there’s no dandruff about either! As for your makeup, a little goes a long way. Don’t go overboard, as this will have a negative effect.

If you visually look the part, from top to bottom, then it has a huge impact on the first impression you give. You put a professional image in the minds of the people at the meeting, and the see you as a confident and powerful woman. This is the perfect starting point for negotiations.

Practice Good Posture

Your posture says a lot about you as a person, and it’s something that can make or break first impressions. Bad posture means you’re always slumped and hunched over, whether you’re sitting or standing. This makes you seem a lot less impressive than if you were sitting/standing up straight with good posture.

I think posture is so important in the business world, and the most successful people always carry themselves with excellent posture. Keep your back straight, your chest out, and head up. Doing this will give off a real confident aura that people can feel emanating from you. In many ways, it can almost intimidate people when you walk up to them looking like this. A simple change of posture can be all it takes to put you on the front foot in an important meeting.

As well as this, it’s scientifically proven that standing or sitting in the right posture can help you feel more self-confident. So, not only do you give off a sense of confidence, you actually feel it inside you as well. This lets you conduct the meeting with less fear, and you truly feel like the boss.

Maintain Eye Contact

Some people think that eye contact is awkward, but I disagree. It’s only awkward if you're nervous or a little bit anxious and worried. Self-confident people don’t care about maintaining eye contact, and they’ll do it right away. From the moment you’re introduced to the people in your meeting, you should lock onto their eyes. This lets them know you’re confident, in command, and ready to do business.

Obviously, staring at them in the eyes the whole time is a bit weird. Also, what if there are two people at the meeting, who do you look at? The best thing to do is simply maintain eye contact with whoever is talking/whoever you’re talking to directly. If you address them both, then switch between the two.

If you don’t look them in the eye, then you seem like a bit of a coward. They’ll go away from that meeting thinking; why wouldn’t she look me in the eyes? Keep that eye contact, and feel powerful.


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Give A Firm Handshake

There are two things I want to talk about with regards to handshakes. Firstly, yes, you need to give a firm one - preferably a dry one too, sweaty palms aren’t a good look. But, perhaps most importantly, you need to initiate the handshake. Get in their first, and it shows once again that you’re very confident. It’s also just good manners seeing as you’re the host of the meeting. You offer your hand because you’re welcoming them. It would be rude if you didn’t stick out your hand and they had to initiate the shake.

The handshake itself needs to be good and firm, but can’t go on for too long. Make sure you get a good grip on their hand, and that you pause for a second or two as you say your greetings or goodbyes. Quick flimsy handshakes have no place in an important business interview. It shows you’re too eager to get started and have no time for basic manners. As mentioned, keep your palms dry - it’s normal to be nervous, but you can’t let it show or it counts against you.

Surely you don’t need me to tell you this, but I’ll go ahead and include it anyway; a handshake is your only option here. No hugs, no fist bumps, no high fives; nothing else. Also, when I say a handshake, we’re talking a professional one, not a casual one with loads of added extras that you might do when greeting your mates.

Speak Eloquently

Finally, the way you speak will help create a good first impression. If you speak with confidence and eloquence, then it makes you look a lot better than if you’re quiet or use very basic words. This begins with the way you greet your guests. Make sure the greeting is professional, and you don’t shake their hand while saying something like “what’s happening dudes”.

Your speech says a lot about you, and it makes you seem educated if you talk confidently, and professionally. If you have to, I suggest taking speech lessons before a big meeting. This is only if you’re used to being casual, and you’re in desperate need of some help.

Okay then, it’s time to wrap everything up right now. Yes, it’s been a bit of a big article today, with plenty of information to get your teeth into. Hopefully, there’s enough advice here to teach you how to make a good first impression in an important business meeting. If you’re struggling to remember all the main points, then just try and think about the main things to focus on; appearance, posture, eye contact, handshakes, and speech. Now, create a good first impression, and set yourself up for success in the meeting.


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