Achieving the ultimate first impression

Achieving the ultimate first impression

Whether it be in the workplace or at a social event… Your image counts.

Whether we’re in the workplace, at a social event, or choosing which way to swipe on the latest dating app… Your image counts.

In a world where snap judgments are made in milliseconds, and the fate of our future rests in our ability to positively and rapidly influence others, knowing how to make an impactful impression in 100 milliseconds is key.

With 1/10th of a second to make the right first impressionm and as little as 30 seconds for a final judgment, our appearance is of paramount importance. How we dress, how we groom and how we move matters. Whether your aim is to gain new business, expand your network, or find a new match… making the ultimate first impression will help you on your way to executive success.

Consider your current image. What do you project? Now, imagine the ideal vision that you wish to project. Is your image today in line with your vision? Better yet, have friends, co-workers, or even strangers give you honest feedback on your image?

A genuine and candid response from outsiders can help prevent us from seeing the world through rose-tined glasses.

Once you understand the impression that you are making, consider the following three observations that allows us to evaluate our peers in milliseconds:


The visual aesthetic we present to others through our appearance and apparel is extremely important.

Would you be surprised if I told you that up to 95% of the impression you make is through the clothes you wear? Let’s be real, unless you are a Playboy Bunny or a sexually-charged Instagram star, your clothes will cover up to 95% of your body.

What do your clothes say about you? Our choice of style carries with it a variety of pre- conceptions:

  • Classy | Professional, mature, organized. ink Yahoo CEO, Marissa Mayer.
  • Trendy | Youthful, lively, creative. ink Virgin Group founder, Sir Richard Branson.
  • Relaxed | Laid-back, simple, free-spirited. ink Facebook CEO, Mark Zuckerberg.

One caveat: If you don’t yet have the status and star-appeal of the above-mentioned power players, you may want to avoid the daily grey t-shirt of Zuckerberg, or the leather jacket of Branson for the very first impression. Where lies the remaining 5%?


You can’t change your face, although the Kardashians and other Hollywood personalities certainly defy this logic. However, we all can improve our physical appearance through grooming. Grooming is all about the details, and here are three features to keep you looking your best and maintain your executive image:

  1. Hair: Stay trimmed and neat in the following five areas: head, neck, eyebrows, facial hair and the dreaded nose hair. Out of place hairs cause distraction and a bit of uneasy humor in your audience.
  2. Teeth: Your mouth is often a key focal point during conversations. If you don’t have great teeth, have them fixed.
  3. Nails: Clean fingernails help show our attention to detail. On the other hand, they can also reveal any nervous habits.

Your aim should be to help your audience focus on your message by eliminating any unwanted distractions in your appearance.


Your body speaks by conveying your confidence, your interest and your state of mind. Just by seeing how you stand, the expression on your face, and the curves of your physique, we make a multitude of assumptions (which tend to be quite accurate).

Action Step: Take your smartphone and have a colleague record video of your next social interaction. Discover what messages you are conveying through your use of body language. Pay special attention to your posture, facial expression and hand gestures.


About the Author:

William Knight
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