Just think about what makes a great first impression: someone who's very present, gives good eye contact, has a strong (but not too strong) handshake; someone who appears confident, has an engaging smile, has the capacity to be warm, friendly and professional; someone whose body language is open.
Other things that make a god first impression are clothes, shoes, hair, scent that isn't overpowering, obvious good grooming.
All those things go into making an impressive personal impact.
And if you think about it, everything I've mentioned touches on four of the five senses (I'm obviously leaving out taste!), all of which take in information at a phenomenally fast rate, process it in a nanosecond and voila! we make a judgement about someone practically instantly.
Which, of course, means that people are making instant judgements about you, too.
The question for you (and one which we ask our delegates on our Personal Impact courses) is: are you making the impact you want?
The reality is that if you don't choose the impact you want to make it will get chosen for you. Here's what I mean: if you don't pay attention to some of the things I mentioned in the opening paragraph - poor eye contact and not smiling for instance - even though you might feel as though you are engaging with other people, the impression you might be giving is aloof or unfriendly or even untrustworthy.
On the other hand, if you choose ahead of time the mark you'd like to make, you have to then think about what behaviour, attitude, body language would support that. It's not as hard as it seems and if any of you reading this have children, you know that they are terrific at changing their behaviour when they want to change their impact.
This is what we mean: in your mind think of an impact you'd like to make - any one will do: easy-going, efficient, authentic, no-nonsense, interested. Even as you read those words you might already be getting a mind picture of what your body language, attitude, verbal input could be in order to create that impression.
The transition from the picture in your mind to making it real becomes much easier if you stand up and take the posture of someone who is interested, no-nonsense, authentic, etc.
As humans we've all been doing behaviour change since birth so we are well practised at it. As we become adults, we seem to get a bit distanced from consciously making choices that support our development.
In terms of personal impact, there are many simple, quite straight-forward little things you can tweak in order to present yourself the way you wish to be seen.
By Jo Ellen Grzyb, Director, Impact Factory