This post was written by Amy Fenollosa, Director of Learning at The Latimer Group
Last week I taught an Executive Presence workshop to a group of emerging leaders participating in a leadership training program in Charlotte, NC. Throughout the day we discussed presence and how we can improve it to make more powerful first impressions and develop lasting reputations.
What happens when you walk into a room? Are you conscious of the first impression that you make on people? Like it or not, people judge our capability based on the first impressions that we make. So how do we work to make a positive first impression? And how can that impression build a powerful, lasting reputation?
The first step is understanding the perception that others have of you. Start by gaining perspective on the first impression you’re making:
- Take note of other people’s initial reaction and response to you. Do you see patterns? Pay attention; if you’re usually greeted with warm smiles and positive reactions, that means something. If you get blank stares, that’s significant too.
- Seek feedback from a trusted colleague or an honest friend. Ask them for their perspective of your first impression. If you’re leading a meeting, ask them to write down what they notice. You may be unaware of minor distractions that can take away from your presence.
- Record yourself on video: If you have an upcoming presentation, ask a colleague to record your introduction. Go back and watch just the first few minutes. What stands out to you? Seeing ourselves on video can be one of the best instructional tools we have.
As you gather this insight, consider what your impression says about your long-term reputation. Is it accurate? Does the first impression align with the caliber of the work you do? Would it lead people to select you for a promotion? Reflect on the impression you leave and the impact that positive first impressions can have on your communication and your career. Take the time to explore the impression you’re leaving, you can overcome the blind spots that may undermine your credibility.