Article 4- March 2023

First Impressions Are Everything!  A Personal Checklist for Success...

by Kirstianna Guerrero, KSYLF Alumna '18 and Faces Alumna '20


If it only takes 7 seconds to make a first impression, you don’t have a lot of time in the moment! So, is there anything you can do to prepare? Here are 7 questions that you can ask yourself to see if you’re ready to make the best first impression:

Are you physically presenting yourself in the best way? Start with what you will wear. Are your clothes clean? To show you are intentional about your appearance, avoid wearing clothes that are wrinkled, stained, or torn. Also, think about if your outfit is appropriate for the setting. What you wear out to dinner might be different than what you wear to a movie. Then, consider how you smell. Have you taken a shower and put on deodorant?

Will your attitude and body language show that you are interested? Nonverbal cues are often the first factors in a first impression. Smiling not only makes us more approachable but will give the impression that we are excited to meet people. That will reflect your attitude in the situation before you introduce yourself. It is also important to be aware of your body language. If your head is down, it may look like you are not interested in what is going on, so try looking straight ahead. This will also impact your posture for the positive, whether standing or sitting. Having your back straight, shoulders down, and face forward can show others that you are confident before you even speak.

Are you ready to greet people? There are 3 easy steps to a great greeting: A spoken hello, a sincere smile, and a confident handshake. Reaching your hand out with a smile really can set the tone for the whole conversation by showing others that you are excited to meet them.

Are you ready to participate in conversation? Small talk can be a big part of meeting someone new. To avoid awkward silences, you can even practice ahead of time! First, think of things you would like to learn about someone when you first meet. Then, think about how you would answer those questions about yourself. Now you have questions and answers to keep up an interactive conversation. But remember, active listening is just as important as talking. When the other person is speaking, face their direction and pay attention to what they are saying. You can even ask follow-up questions about what they have said to show that you are interested.

Will you be on time? How you manage your time will reflect to others what your priorities are. If you have plans to meet someone for the first time in person, arrive a few minutes ahead of schedule to show that you are not only excited to meet them, but also respect their time.

Are you being yourself? Preparing to make a good first impression doesn’t mean hiding or changing who you are, but presenting the best of yourself. Because a first impression shows others what to expect moving forward, you don’t want to act like someone else. Embracing what makes you unique can be an important step while you work on these skills. Whether it is incorporating your favorite color in your outfit or sharing your interests as you speak, there are many subtle ways to show authenticity as you meet new people.

Are you willing to make mistakes? So, why would you want to make mistakes if you are preparing to make the best first impression? This mindset actually has an important purpose. You see, the people who appear the most confident are often those that will enter situations where they don’t know what to expect and decide to go with the flow. It is said that the only way we learn in life is by trying new things because making mistakes is the best way to learn. Rather than spending the time inside your head overthinking every word or action, you can make the simple (yet scary) decision to be bold and learn along the way. If you feel that you have messed up, take time to identify what made you feel that way instead of using it as a reason not to try again. Then you will know what you can work on to better prepare next time. Before you know it, you’ll have great experience in what works for you personally as you meet new people!