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Everyone knows that a first impression can make-or-break a business deal. And, when it comes to meetings with important partners and/or clients, it’s essential that you know how to consistently put your best foot forward. Here are a few tips to help you do it.
Giving a genuine smile to someone upon greeting them will instantly help settle nerves for both of you. However, make sure it doesn’t look inauthentic. If you smile too widely, it’s easy for someone to perceive you as nervous or--worse--arrogant.
#2 Shake Hands
A small smile and polite hello paired with a great handshake will help you make a great impression every time. But, learning the “right” handshake is tricky. You want to have a firm but not overly tight squeeze, and it can’t last for too long. Just a split second over what the person expects and it can easily turn awkward.
The answer? Practice with people who have known you for many years. This allows you to shake their hand and get their honest opinion on it. It might seem silly, but the practice will certainly pay off down the road.
#3 Introduce Yourself
The verbal introduction is another big part of making the right impression. If you’re greeting a room of individuals, you should definitely state your name so everyone knows it. Depending on the context, you might go down the line and greet each individual in the room as well, remembering to smile and shake hands as you do.
Planning your introduction will help you be efficient while avoiding awkward silences or going off on a tangent. So, think about the meeting before you go in and consider how you will introduce yourself to the room. You might even plan your transition to kick off the discussion.
#4 Speak Clearly
Most people have a lot of great things to say. Unfortunately, most people don’t know how to speak properly.
Speaking too softly or even too loudly can negatively impact how people see you. Speak too softly and they will struggle to hear, and be more likely to perceive you as unconfident or nervous. Speak too loudly and they may perceive you as anxious, rude, self-consumed, or (at the very least) hard-of-hearing.
You should learn how to properly control not only your volume but also the speed and tone of your voice. It’s easy to lose control of these simple things when you get nervous. But, as the saying goes, practice makes perfect.
#5 Use Eye Contact
Over-using eye contact can make for an awkward discussion. But, avoiding it all together can lead people to feeling that you are either very nervous or very rude. Failing to look someone in the eyes can make them think you do not want to be in a conversation with them. Obviously, that’s not the impression you want to give.
The trick is to not overthink your eye contact and then your gaze will be very natural. But, if you find yourself thinking about it, try the “V” trick. This is when you glance at one eye for a good 5-10 seconds before switching to their other eye for another 5-10 seconds. Break up the eye contact by looking to their mouth or, if they are gesturing, at their hands.
With these tricks, you’ll be able to consistently make a great impression no matter what sort of meetings you find yourself in.