How to Make a Good First Impression

Debra Fine

Meeting new people and starting conversations is often challenging. It can be difficult to enter a room and view strangers everywhere you turn. Meeting all these people and engaging in conversation with them can be exhausting and overwhelming. But it does not have to be this way. Skilled conversationalists turn business and social interactions into opportunities for making a good first impression and ultimately an opportunity for success!

You can use conversational skills as a tool with which to build new connections, while avoiding awkward pauses and uncomfortable conversations. After all, making a good first impression is all about making others feel good when spending time with each of you. Great conversationalists are made, not born.

The following tips will help you make a positive impression every time:

  • Don’t rush through conversations. Take your time, and be sure to remember names and use them frequently during conversations.
  • Show an interest in every person you meet. By showing an interest you are creating a favorable impression of yourself. People, even shy ones, like to talk about themselves, so let them.
  • Be prepared. Before entering an event, take a couple minutes and think of at least three conversation topics. Remind yourself of what you may already know about fellow attendees. Their hobbies, activities or interests. If you happen to encounter an uncomfortable silence, these conversation points will always come in handy.
  • Always maintain eye contact. Eye contact is an easy way to make others feel comfortable, important, and special.
  • Act confident through your body language, even if you are not. Nervous body language {twisting your hair, slouching shoulders, constant hand rubbing} can make others uncomfortable and anxious. Try to be aware of your body language when interacting with others.
  • Be a careful listener. By listening intently to what others are saying, you are not only making them feel important, but you can gather cues you need to keep the conversation going and bridge to new topics.
  • Don’t interrogate a conversational partner. Questions like: “Where are you from?” “Are you married?” “What do you do for a living?” can stop a conversation before it ever really starts.
  • Be respectful of the opinions of others. Not everyone agrees on things, and friendly disagreements can be a gateway to a great conversation. Offer your opinion of your favorite football team, the state of public education today, or the future of the space program. Be sure to follow up with “What do you think?”, or “Tell me your opinion.”
  • Have exit lines prepared. You will probably want to mingle with several people around the room.

Debra Fine is the author of The Fine Art of Small Talk (Hyperion). She presents keynotes and seminars on conversational skills and networking techniques internationally. Contact Debra at 303-721-8266 or visit her web site at

Category: Communicating
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