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Make the first impression count

We live in a very image-conscious society and impressions are made within a few seconds. Straightening teeth makes a difference and can ultimately make or break your chances of getting certain opportunities.

Mark Montano

Host of the American version of 10 Years Younger

Tips on how to impress

The first impressions count – once formed, it’s not always possible to change the other person’s opinion. A fleeting look, lasting about 3 seconds, is what it takes for someone to evaluate you at a first meeting. As unfair as this might sound, this is unfortunately the way the world works.

The initial encounter is crucial because it sets the foundation for further interaction. Some might feel that this type of assessment is a cruel form of stereotyping but we are all accomplices in this pattern of behaviour. We form these opinions about others based on appearance, body language and mannerisms.

There is one crucial element that we unanimously take into consideration at all times …the smile! Whether you are meeting the in-laws for the first time, speed-dating or going to a job interview, you need your smile and it had better be a good one.

A good smile can get you out of lot of trouble, because you may be excused from indiscretions simply on that basis. I once arrived for a job interview with a dinner suit on (unfortunately, I hadn’t had time to change following a debaucherous party the night before), feeling like the odd one out in a room full of grey suited city-type men. I confidently walked into the interview, with a broad smile on my face, shook hands warmly with the interview panel and took my seat as if I was a guest of honour. Instead of mentioning my attire, two of the panel commented that I was looking rather cheerful and happy – my ploy to distract them had worked! You know what happened later? You guessed right, I got the job!

Essential tips to help you create great first impressions always

Arrive on Time

The clock is ticking and you are running late. The person you are meeting is counting the minutes and becoming increasingly infuriated. By the time you finally arrive (five minutes late, sweating and apologetic), your first impression is left in tatters. A genuine friendly smile might be enough to disarm your enraged host but don’t count on it. Make sure you plan to arrive a few minutes early and allow for potential delays.

Keep Calm and Collected

A first time meeting can be daunting. Whether it’s an interview or a business meeting, our unease can be detected by others through subliminal signals which we subconsciously give off.

The resulting atmosphere can be uncomfortable and there is an immediate need for self-control (try not to wet yourself!). If you think you are likely to fall prey to this common scenario arrive early, take deep breaths and focus your mind on the task ahead. A popular technique used by many business veterans is to go to the wash room, stand in front of a mirror, smile widely and role play your introduction (you are better off making a fool of yourself in front of the janitor than being unprepared for the meeting). The calmness and confidence radiated by you, will create a solid foundation for making that first impression a good one.

Look the Part

What you look like matters. We are constantly judged on our physical appearance, so your personal presentation could make all the difference in a person’s perception of you – dress appropriately for the occasion. Jeans and trainers do not have the same impact as a clean cut suit, so look the part and strut
with confidence.

Lest we forget about the importance of personal grooming, a clean and tidy appearance is appropriate for all occasions. Ensure you get a good haircut, shave (females included), wear subtle make-up and don’t forget to brush your teeth – nobody is interested in seeing what you had for lunch!

Body Language

Positive body language allied with a good physical presence can speak volumes. You should utilise positive body language to project appropriate confidence and self-assurance. Fidgeting is interpreted as nervousness or lack of confidence, so you will need to compose yourself, make eye contact, greet with a firm handshake and of course, smile. This will enable you to project an image of confidence and credibility.

Be Yourself

There is nothing wrong with being you, as long as you don’t have a multiple personality disorder! If you have quirky individual traits that could endear you at a first encounter, please endeavour to use it appropriately within the context of the situation – it would be inappropriate to demonstrate any repulsive habits, simply because you might find it entertaining!

A good sense of humour is usually desirable when used appropriately. Remember not everyone looks
for conformity and it can be a good thing to stand out from the crowd, just don’t go overboard!

Research and Finding Common Ground

All conversations are based on knowledge, understanding and honest exchange. Pre-empting the questions is a great way to prepare but to do this you will need to research the person on the other side of the table. Find out about the other party, company or the interviewer, research them using the internet and make sure your information is current. See if you can pick up on common subject matter which would encourage an interesting conversation but don’t over do it!

Be Polite and Keep Positive

We were constantly reminded as young children to say please and thank you and it is just as important now, as it was then. Anything less than polite and courteous behaviour will simply not do – please don’t forget to turn off your mobile phone!

A positive attitude can also be a powerful tool when faced with criticism or rejection. In this scenario a conscious smile might help indicate that you are in control of your emotions and robust enough to tough out difficult situations. Strive to learn from the experience and aim to end the meeting on an upbeat note.

The Essential Smile!

A warm genuine smile always creates a good first impression. The radiation of confidence from a brilliant smile will put you and the other person at ease. When you part your lips whilst smiling or speaking people expect to see a set of straight white teeth. Tobacco or tea stained crooked teeth will never be ‘in vogue’ except in grizzly horror movies!

Self improvement is not vanity and is generally considered to be a sign of self respect, therefore; having straight teeth represents exactly that. A company director once said that his sales manager’s gappy teeth misrepresented the company image because they projected a comedic image! (a la Ken Dodd and the Diddy Men).

If you want to project a positive image of yourself, show that you care by investing in your smile. Visit your orthodontist today and the ‘straightening experience’ will stand you in good stead for a lifetime of successful interviews and business meetings.

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