When in a leadership role, you’re frequently required to meet new people that you need to impress.

Whether you are meeting an employee, client, or you’re attempting to promote your business at a networking event, first impressions can be crucial.

Strangers will form snap decisions about you as soon as they meet you – it’s actually only a tenth of a second – influenced by both your verbal and nonverbal cues.

You can’t stop them from doing this, but you can alter your behaviour to make this quick judgement work in your favour.

How do you make this positive impression?

Nonverbal behaviour:

  • Consider your attitude: Before you meet someone or enter a boardroom, you should assess the situation and think about the attitude you want to convey. People pick up on attitude instantly so choose the attitude that will work for you, not against you.
  • Straighten your posture: Use your body to transmit your status and power. To appear confident simply stand tall, put your shoulders back, and hold your head straight.
  • Say cheese: Smiling makes you appear friendly and approachable – and it doesn’t cost a penny! It lets people know that you’re happy to meet them and spreads good feeling.
  • Make eye contact: This will help you to instantly connect and build rapport, as a person can say a lot with their eyes! (Top tip: to improve how much eye contact you make, try to notice the eye colour of everyone you meet.)
  • Shake hands: This is the quickest and most effective way to make a connection with a stranger. According to research, it takes around three hours of continuous interaction to form the same level of rapport you can get with a single handshake. Make it a firm one – but not so firm that their hand falls off!
  • Lean in slightly: Leaning forward implies that you are engaged and interested, but equally respect the other person’s space.


Verbal behaviour:

  • Ask questions: Question the other person about themselves as this signals your interest in them. Be a good listener; people love talking about themselves so let them do the talking.
  • Speak clearly: Talk at a moderate pace with a well-modulated voice; the person you are talking to needs to be able to understand you.
  • Use their name: Make your meeting a bit more personal, and it shows them that you were paying attention from the beginning. (Top tip: frequent use of their name means that you’re more likely to remember it.)
  • Use humour sensibly: A simple joke can lighten the atmosphere, but be cautious and careful when using humour and make sure you have already built rapport.

Consider these tips when you’re next meeting someone new or are sat in a management meeting to form an instant good impression!