When I conduct team building sessions I ask attendees if they think they are usually right in their first impressions of people. Most hands pop up quickly.
People trust their first impressions and so they trust their first impressions of you. Ergo most people meeting you for the first time are going to think of you as that person they first met. Obviously if you develop a close acquaintance, that may not hold, but in general the first impression is the lasting impression.
Your impression of another in that first moment might be the most critical factor in the impression they get of you! If that person did something off-putting, maybe was late, and you behave just a spoonful sourly, it matters. You mar the impression you make. And it often sticks.
Meetings are for making impressions. If you are in a small meeting, say 20 or less, make sure you approach each person before the meeting and greet. Focus intently, have good body posture, shake hands confidently, and always keep a pleasant expression. Pleasant expressions every moment of the meeting.
While I am on the topic of pleasant expressions, I’ll assert that there is only one circumstance when this pillar yields. That is when a core value has been violated. If a colleague does something in obvious opposition to the good of the team then apeshit behavior is called for. Then you go controlled nuts. Otherwise, and especially in meetings, don’t turn the smile on and off. Always keep a friendly visage. It might keep you young too.
Alternate rigidity and comfort in posture; think in terms of wearing rather than exuding a sense of personal confidence. Turning your chair just slightly toward a speaker is validating. It validates you are in the game and it connects you with the speaker.
Impressions made at meetings are most significant for relationships in your outer orbit. For your inner orbit the effect is a bit more nuanced. What your colleagues see in meetings is what they assume others see. If you are poised and professional with strong presentation skills as you conduct yourself within your team, then that is what your colleagues assume strangers will see. A meeting does not change how close colleagues see you but it affects how they think others outside the team view you.
I like to be picky in terms of where I sit during a meeting. I want an edge, a spot that lets me see most of the room. I want to see everything.
If the meeting again is small I jot a diagram of the set up and as each person introduces himself I write that name down on my diagram. If there is any dialogue during the meeting I can use that person’s name. THAT is controlling a first impression. Using the names of two or three strangers makes the rest of the room feel inadequate.
Phones are a danger in a meeting. I prefer to take notes on my phone but the optics are horrible. Don’t if you don’t have to.
I suspect you are missing opportunities to maximize meetings, irrespective of the content. Learning how to introduce yourself, both literally and figuratively, will trampoline the impression you make on others.
A closing thought on one’s ability to accurately draw a first impression. Maybe you are really accurate in yours. Maybe. I suppose some people really are good at that. Yet I suspect a close mindedness, and a serving of confirmation bias, play a role for most. I am sure I am in a glass house on this one but I’ll toss out the alert anyway.
Ask yourself, do I really know how to introduce myself. If not, I hope these tips provide a framework.