Eye Contact

Are You Wasting Your First Impression?

First impressions occur in the first seven seconds of meeting someone. Here's something even scarier — a series of experiments by Princeton psychologists Willis & Todorov uncover it takes is a tenth of a second to construct an impression of a stranger from their face. Longer exposures don’t significantly alter those impressions (although they might boost your confidence in your judgments).

Like it or not, judgments based on facial and overall appearance play a powerful role in how we treat others, and how we get treated.

The moment a person observes you, their brain makes a thousands of calculations —  are you someone to like or to dislike? Can you be trusted or feared? Are you important or are you a lackey?

Each calculation is made at lightning speed — making major decisions about one another in the first seven seconds of meeting.

Let's break it down to each individual item:

Body Language/Body Image:

  • What is your posture like when you walk? Are you hunched over? Are you straight and proud?
  • Do you walk like Jason Bourne — A bit faster and with purpose?
  • Are you shoulders square and are you looking straight ahead?

Facial Expression/Eye Contact:

  • Are you smiling? Not a fake smarmy smile — a REALLY big smile?
  • Do you 'brighten' your eyebrows when meeting someone?
  • Are you looking them right in the eye?

Voice & Tonality:

  • Do you introduce yourself energetically? "Hi, I'm Rich Gee. What's your name?"
  • Do you say it with pride and enthusiasm or low and weak?
  • Do you punch key words and emphasize your phrasing?
  • Do you follow up with additional questions, "Tell me more!"
  • Do you take a SINCERE interest in what they have to say?

Dress & Appearance:

  • Are you wearing a sharp & clean uniform (suit, skirt, slacks, shirt, tie, jacket, etc.)?
  • Does it suit your size? Age?
  • How are your shoes?
  • Are you wearing too much makeup? Cologne? Perfume? Jewelry? Accessories?


  • Are you actually taking their hand and shaking it? Or just letting it lie there?
  • Is it a firm (not killer) handshake? Is it a dead handshake?
  • If you know them well — are you grasping with two hands? Giving them a hug?

Your first impression is so important. Practice, Prepare, and Present! They're going to LOVE you!

Top Ten Presentation Tips For My Son.

An oldie but goodie from the past — one of my most requested articles. Enjoy! My 13 year-old son is presenting today at school - his 8th year graduation presentation. He's been working on it for months - a 32 page research paper AND a 30 minute presentation to the school and parents (that's more than I did in college!).

This morning, I threw together some presentation points for him to brush up on during his ride to school. I thought I would share them with you:

1. Smile. Smile. Smile.

The more that you smile, the more relaxed you’ll be. In addition, your audience will also feel relaxed and better engage with your presentation.

2. Have Fun.

Most presenters are afraid to have fun with the audience. You have a wonderful sense of humor (from your Mom and Dad) - use it! But not too much (like your Dad).

3. Move Around.

Most presenters are stiff and formal like Frankenstein. You need to engage the audience by moving around - move from the left side of the screen to the right side. Move closer to the audience (when you are making an important point) and then move back. No dancing though - keep it graceful.

4. Use Your Hands.

Your mouth should not be the only thing moving. Keep your hands moving at all times. Use them to shape your points, move them gracefully. Not too much - don’t act as if you have a medical condition.

5. Keep Eye Contact With The Audience.

Don’t just stare at the pretty girls - have your eyes bounce around from one audience member to another, smile (see tip #1), and keep bouncing your eyes. You will get everyone’s attention - that’s what you’re shooting for.

6. Try Not To Read The Screen.

You can glance quickly at it - get your point - then turn back to the audience and paraphrase the information. You’ve been practicing for many days (hopefully!) - trust yourself and instincts - you WILL remember each point.

7. Take It Easy - You Are Not Sprinting, It’s A Marathon.

You have lots of time - don’t speed through it. Frequently catch yourself and SLOW IT DOWN. Everyone tends to speed up their speaking - slow it down and have fun. Pause often, catch your breath, and then move onto the next point.

8. Engage The Audience (if you can).

Ask them questions like: “How many of you have had this problem?” - Raise your hand and invite the audience members to raise their hand too.

9. Drink Water.

Have a water bottle up there - trust me - you WILL have dry mouth. Drink at your pauses. Having a dry mouth coughing fit in front of an audience is not pretty.

10. You’re Going To Knock It Out Of The Park.

Trust Me.
I see all types of presenters all the time. Most are awful - but some really shine. The reason? They not only believe and love the subject their speaking about — they also truly enjoy to engage an audience. You have that quality in your DNA.

Much Love - Dad

P.S. My son will be following this post all day - so please leave a special comment! Thanks!

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