First Impressions (part two) - How you sound and what you say

As you know from our last article First Impressions Really Do Count, it takes just a few seconds to make a great first impression in a face to face interaction.  93% of that interaction is in fact NOT based on what you say*.
Up to 55% of the first impression in a face to face interaction is entirely based on your physical appearance and body language.* It can literally gain or lose you potential clients. So what about what we say and how we say it? 

what you sayThink of a time that you have met someone and were instantly put off or annoyed by the way they sound… Did they have an annoying voice? Were they doing a hard sales pitch, not listening, and going on and on about their business?

When we’re meeting someone face to face, 38% of the first impression we create is based on what we sound like*. 

How do you sound?
How many of you have listened to someone do a presentation and you just switched off? It is so important to sound interesting and dynamic about what you do. If you are quiet and mumbling you will come across as not confident.  You want your enthusiasm for what you do to come across! At the same time you don’t want to sound like a hyperactive child – over-excited and too loud. Be mindful of the way you sound as when we are talking about something that we find exciting we have a tendency to get louder and louder.    

listenAnother important aspect is matching the other person’s speech – this is as important as mirroring and matching their body language (see our previous article). It’s ok to be enthusiastic but if the person you are talking to is quiet then you may come across as controlling and overpowering so you need to tone it down a little to match them. Of course some people might talk so fast or so slow that we couldn’t possibly match them, so it would be ridiculous to even attempt it. 

You don’t want to sound too laid back if the other person is quite loud and fast. On the other hand, if you are talking to a quiet old lady, you don’t want her to feel intimidated by your loud and dynamic speech. Keep an eye on the response from the people you are talking to. Have they glazed over, looking away, confused or are they fully engaging (keeping eye contact, nodding, smiling etc)?

So make sure you observe and match the volume/speed of their speech as well as the language they use. And this brings us to…

When we’re meeting someone face to face, 7% of that interaction is based on the words we use.

What do you say?
When talking about your business and expressing enthusiasm about your products or services, be careful not to come across as too pushy. Keep it short and fun, and let people who are interested in what you have to offer come to you for more information. If people get a feeling that you’re trying hard to sell them something, using too many words, explanations and going on and on, it automatically puts them on their guard. 

Also, when presenting what you do, it is vital to speak in a clear “jargon-free” way.  You know about your business and you are obviously passionate about it, but make sure your audience can understand what you are talking about and never assume that they do. 
This might seem too obvious, but surprisingly there are quite a few people who don’t try to match the language used by the person they are speaking to. Have you ever spoken to someone in a formal and polite way, just to be called ‘mate’ or ‘love’ by them? How did that make you feel? We rest our case!

speakOne of the most important things therefore is to listen. And not just in order to match their speech, but also because you want to make sure you’re not missing out on what they have to say. It can be so hard to do this. When someone is speaking and you have all these questions and ideas, you just want to shout them out. Write down what you need to say, but make sure you are listening. 

We have two ears and one mouth, so use them appropriately and wisely. The more you show an interest in what people have to say, the more they are going to be open to listening to your message. 

To recap…
handshakeWe hope that our articles have provided you with some useful insights and tips about the importance of creating great first impressions, projecting the right image for your business, and communicating and building rapport with prospective clients. 

If you are introducing yourself at a networking event or doing a sales pitch to prospective client, you might want to practise it first, in front of a mirror or mentally rehearse it on your way to the meeting. Just make sure you don’t sound as if you’re reciting a memorized text!

The main thing to remember is to get out there, network, promote your business and create great customer experiences.
Contact us for further details about our forthcoming workshop to be launched in January 2015.

*Based on Albert Mehrabian


janineJanine Quinn has over 15 years’ corporate experience and is a qualified Trainer. She has produced and delivered a variety of bespoke training courses and workshops, which included Induction, Communication Skills and Management workshops. She now runs Sassy Style and is a qualified Style Coach for men and women. Should you require any information regarding business image consultations and creating the right look for your business brand, please email or call 07557 818103.

jelenaDr Jelena Nesic is a psychologist, researcher and lecturer. As the Programme Director of INNERNATION Coaching & Development, she combines the latest psychology and behavioural neuroscience research findings with cognitive theory in the development of integrated stress management, coaching & professional training programmes. Should you require additional information about Performance Coaching, Team Development, Sales, Negotiation and Business Communication Skills training, or would like to invite Jelena to present as a keynote speaker at an event, please email or call 03333 359953.
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