If it’s true that we only have a few seconds to make a good first impression, then it stands to reason we should want to do everything we can to make the most positive impact in that short period of time. Whether it’s a job interview, pitching a new idea, seeking funding or running for office, the old adage holds: You don’t get a second chance to make a first impression.
It seems to be an easy concept to grasp, but how do you pull it off? Are there techniques, is there a formula and why do some people seem better at it than others? I’m always looking for ways to help clients answer these questions. I’m also on the lookout for ways to enhance my own skills when it comes to making the best possible first – and lasting – impression.
I believe I’ve found a tool that can be helpful in overcoming the fear and anxiety of giving a speech, heading into a job interview or asking for funding or a vote.
I just read the book Presence: Bringing Your Boldest Self to Your Biggest Challenges. It was written by Amy Cuddy. Many of us are familiar with her…not surprising since this professor and psychologist is widely known for having the second-most-watched TED talk of all time.
Now, I’m not in the habit of recommending books to a wide audience, limiting my referral service to friends and fellow book club members. But, I’m recommending this one to colleagues, clients and to anyone interested in improving his/her “presence” by recognizing the mind-body connection.
According to Cuddy, making a few tweaks in our body language can increase our self-confidence and change not only how we see ourselves, but also others' perceptions of us.
Cuddy studies how nonverbal behavior and snap judgments influence people. Her theory, proven by her success and the success of those who follow her counsel, is by accessing our personal power, we can achieve “presence,” the state in which we stop worrying about the impression we’re making on others and instead adjust the impression we’re making on ourselves.
Sounds pretty philosophical, doesn’t it? That kind of thing you’d expect from a Harvard professor. But this book, which has been deeply researched and filled with anecdotal stories, is easy reading and it leaves you with ways to gain strength and personal power by taking advantage of the mind-body connection.
Anyone who reads it will find a way to overcome the fear connected with stressful situations and persevere during those challenging moments.
Jan Molino is the CEO & Managing Partner of Aspire Ascend, a service provider and member-based organization that helps women advance toward leadership. She is an experienced speaker and facilitated numerous forums and panel discussions on this subject. Jan can be reached at: email@example.com.