How to Make a Great First Impression

How’s your first impression?

When meeting someone new, do you feel confident or self-conscious?

Here’s why this conversation is so important:

“Whether we like to admit it or not, we decide if we like someone, if we trust someone, and if we want a relationship with someone within the first few seconds of meeting them”

In my job in ministry I meet new people multiple times a week. I long to make a great impression but until recently, I didn’t know what that looked like.

Then, I read Captivate: The Science of Succeeding with People, written by human behavior hacker Vanessa Van Edwards. There are so many practical takeaways in this book that I will most likely be sharing more tips on how to win in relationships in future blog posts!

For now, though, I want to share her three tips on how to make a great first impression. I must say, I’ve been putting these into practice over the past couple of months and have seen incredible results!

I feel much more confident when meeting someone new. On top of that, I come away from these new interactions feeling a greater sense of connection – and I suspect the feeling is mutual!

So whether you’re looking to improve your relational skills in your job or in your social life, check this out:


3 Tips: How to Make a Great First Impression


1. Use Your Hands

People are more likely to befriend you when they can see your hands. The biggest mistake you can make is it put your hands in your pocket, something I am definitely guilty of!

Make sure your hands are visible and always initiate a handshake. A handshake communicates to a stranger that you are safe. However, how you give a handshake definitely makes a difference. Here are the three key components:

• Dry – if you are nervous and your palms are sweaty, make sure to dry your hands before meeting someone new. Perhaps consider carrying a napkin in social settings when you might be meeting new people.
• Vertical- keep your thumb to the sky! A palm up communicates you may be fragile or submissive. A palm down communicates you may be controlling or domineering.
• Firm- nobody likes a limp hand. At the same time, nobody wants to be sore after a handshake. Squeeze until you feel the other person’s muscles tighten, and then stop.

Studies have shown that the skin-to-skin contact in a handshake produces oxytocin in the body. The hormone oxytocin is proven to build trust in relationships.  Never skip a handshake and never replace it with a wave, high five, or fist bump!


2. Stand Like a Winner

If you want to make a good first impression, you must stand like a winner. Here’s how:

• Keep your shoulders down and back
• Aim your chin, chest and forehead straight in front of you (or slightly up)
• Keep space between your arms and torso
• Make sure your hands are visible

Don’t miss an opportunity to make a good first impression by bowing your head, slumping your shoulders, or keeping your arms to your side.  How you stand it perhaps the quickest way to display confidence to others.


 3. Engage with Eye Contact

Making eye contact, like shaking hands, has shown to produce oxytocin in the body. When meeting someone for the first time, keep these tips in mind regarding eye contact:

• Notice their eye color
• Don’t look over their head to scope out the surroundings
• Aim to hold eye contact 60-70 percent of the time

Resist the urge to stare at the ground or scan the horizon. Good eye contact builds trust and leads to greater connection.



Don’t underestimate the power of making a great first impression!  Here are three challenges for you depending on which area you need to grow the most in to make a great first impression:

  • Do a handshake “audit” with a friend or family member. Ask for feedback and make changes accordingly.
  • Intentionally “Stand like a winner” the next time you meet someone new. Did it make a difference?
  • Practice using 60-70 percent eye contact in your next conversation. How did it feel?

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April 17, 2018


Tom Skilling


Personal Development

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