An old saying in English is that ‘the first impression is the last impression.’ The meaning of this is quite clear. If someone meets you for the first time, whatever impression he or she forms of you in his / her mind, will remain what he or she thinks about you for a long long time.

Hence it is vitally important that we, especially as we are in the PR business, make a very positive first impression. This applies to everyone who interacts with outside people – whether you are in the client service department or the media department or graphics or even general duty for that matter.

Anyone’s first impression of you will be based on 3 main criteria – what you look like or your overall appearance, what you say and your body language.

Appearance refers to your dressing that should be neat and clean. Not necessarily expensive, but well coordinated, well-pressed and refined. And remember it is always better to be a little over-dressed than under-dressed! Hence wearing a tie by gents is highly advisable.

Appearance also refers to your hairstyle and yes, even your shoes! Research has shown that people really get put off, even if subconsciously by people with dirty, unpolished shoes! Then the second way people judge you is by what you say, or what you don’t say! In our business it is important to be a good conversationalist, without becoming a talking machine that bores everyone to death! So your talk must be sensible, with always some humour in it and with regard to people’s sensitivities. For example avoid discussion on politics or religion! The third and sometimes the most critical way people judge you by is your body language, also unknown as non-verbal communication. A person who slouches will automatically be assumed to be a lazy person. A person who avoids eye contact while talking is assumed to be trying to hide something or not telling the truth. So we need to consciously practice a positive body language style, that gives a clear message to the person you are interacting with – that you are confident, active, trustworthy.

Good luck with practicing all of the above to make your next first impression a great one!

About Author

As the CEO of APR since February 2002, Zohare Ali Shariff is responsible for all business operations of the agency and personally counsels high profile clients on communications and PR strategy, issue & crisis management, stakeholder engagement and corporate social responsibility.

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