Judi James: The Importance of First Impressions - NABS
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Judi James: The Importance of First Impressions

On 10th March, we had the pleasure of welcoming body language and behaviour expert Judi James to host the latest in our Tuesday Club Talk series at the Posterscope London HQ.

James’ talk, titled ‘You Had Me At Hello’, delivered a detailed look into how body language can affect someone else’s perception of not just our confidence, but our status and skill-set too. Her talk spanned a large variety of scenarios, from how we greet others to how to sell yourself. We’ve pulled out some of her best bits of advice below.

Charisma and Presence

First impressions are made within the first three seconds of meeting someone. Those three seconds are integral. We need to relish the way in which we make entrances.

As humans, we automatically begin analysing a new person based on the information we are presented with in their entrance. So, how do we ensure that our entrance gives a good impression?

Rule one: think before you walk into a room. Take a moment to reboot and get into your ‘power pose’. Confidence comes from the feet, so stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, weight balanced, legs straight and aim to look as tall as we can. Follow this by rolling your shoulders back and down, along with a relaxed facial expression while smiling with your eyes. This shows you to be interested, alert and defines you as being full of confident power. Most importantly, we should avoid any pseudo-infantile gestures. This can be anything from crossing your arms for protection or appearing to withdraw into yourself; these gestures suggest weakness and a lack of knowledge.

Greeting Rituals

As anyone will know from awkward board room greetings, how we say hello and greet one another can impact the whole meeting. The host should always put their hand out first, as it is an action of welcome to the person entering the space. This should be done with intention, rather than waiting until the last minute to throw your hand out to the person you have invited along, catching them off-guard and immediately putting them off.

The perfect handshake, as James explained, is dry and mirrors the other person’s strength. No one wants to shake a wet fish or have their hand broken in the process!

When introducing yourself, you should have intent behind what you’re saying, introducing yourself clearly while helping the other person. James explained that simply saying ‘Hi I’m Jane Doe, obscure job title with no description’ doesn’t help anyone. Instead, we should introduce our name and position, followed by a brief explanation of what it is we do, such as ‘my job is x which means I do x, x and x.’ One thing to definitely avoid is the phrase ‘it’s boring’. This automatically adds a negative spin on our status, skills and confidence.

The Art of Pitching

When it comes to selling something to another person, the first thing to do is to sell to yourself. If you don’t believe your own pitch, how can you expect someone else to? During this phase, we should also work out our body language and choreograph our moves a little to help us feel a little more comfortable.

Once in the pitch, we need to be sure that the client can see everyone in the room. This will put them at ease and allow them to focus on you, leading to better judgements. If you are in a sit-down meeting, the best place to sit to persuade the client is opposite but diagonally across. Sitting directly opposite is confrontational, while on the periphery gives you a weak positioning and directly next to them is the ‘suck up seat’.

We also need to demonstrate authenticity. To do this, James explained that we need congruency in our speech. This is achieved by ensuring that our body language, tone of voice and the words we use work together. If we stand arms folded and appear inverted while talking about an exciting new idea, the lack of congruency will suggest to the client that you are either lying or don’t truly believe in what you’re selling.
If there is anything that we took away from James’ talk, it’s the fact that your stance can have a massive effect on how you’re perceived. As for charisma; we can all fake it until we make it.

Watch Judi James’ full Tuesday Club Talk session here – definitely not to be missed.

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