It only takes seven seconds to make a first impression on another human being, according to a Harvard study of communication. When we meet people for the first time, we make quick decisions about them based on their eye contact, appearance, handshake, and verbal and nonverbal cues.
I’ve always believed in “first impressions count”, and I often have to smack my own hand, in order to give someone a second chance. And I truly believe that everybody deserves a second chance! At life, in marriage, friendship & as a Leader.
It’s important to remember the power of first impressions, and in Toastmasters it’s important for us as clubs to realize what impact our actions have.
I would hate to try to count the number of clubs that I’ve visited, but many, many years ago I visited a club when I was a new member, brimming with my usual self-confidence! There were a handful of members standing talking to each other & when I arrived they turned around, said hi, and then carried on talking to each other. I wanted to curl up & go back home, but I didn’t! I stayed & in fact, I remember it was a pretty good meeting.
My first impression STUCK with me though, and I always thought of that club as being one of the less friendly ones in my area.
But I’m blessed – I became a District Leader & a few years’ later when I was a Co-ordinator, they invited me to visit them. I approached with trepidation ……. this time I was expected, and I was welcomed. But also this time… my own networking & interpersonal communication skills had improved. I thoroughly enjoyed the meeting & I have been back to visit that club a number of times.
Remember that not all visitors & guests will have been invited to your club, that they do not all have a friendly face at your clubs, remember that many folk join toastmasters to build their self-confidence, remember that our organization is where Leaders are Made & that everyone is taking #onestepforward. Visiting a brand new organization for the first time could be someone’s #onestepforward.
There are many things that contribute to FIRST IMPRESSIONS but there is nothing more powerful than a welcoming smile or handshake & a little engaging conversation