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A Good First Impression is Part of Good Communication

Posted on November 19, 2014 by Baxter Dickson

American author Seth Godin has said, “If I fail more than you, I win.”  This speaks more to persistence than failure.  As any professional athlete knows, it is persistence that takes you farther than others with similar talent.  As any business person knows, it is that ‘never give up’ attitude which creates ultimate success.

There are a myriad of quotes attributed to this idea, including General George A. Custer’s “It’s not how many times you get knocked down that count, it’s how many times you get back up.” Vince Lombardi’s“It’s not whether you get knocked down; it’s whether you get back up,” and the Japanese saying, “Fall seven times, stand up eight.”

This is great advice, no doubt. Yet, there are times in our lives when it is less about persistence, and more about getting it right – the first time.  As Will Rogers once said, “You never get a second chance to make a good first impression.”

That is especially true in today’s fast paced business world. There are times, every day, where your actions, your knowledge, and your responses – in the moment – can elevate or decimate your credibility.  Knowing that credibility can take years to develop, but only moments to crumble, it is critical that you know how to gain control of yourself and appear cool, calm, and in control – even though on the inside, you may feel like you are falling apart.  This skill is a critical key to executive presence.

Here are 3 tools that you can conjure up within moments to quickly put you in executive presence mode:

Jump Out of Self-Focus

Focusing on yourself is one of the most damaging things you can do. When you are self-focused, that negative chatter in your head takes over – This isn’t going well. I know I didn’t prepare enough. They really don’t like this (or me).  When you are focused on the negative, it is like water going down a drain…it starts slowly and then circles faster and faster and faster. Before you know it, not only are your thoughts negative, but so are your emotions.

The beauty of being your own problem is that you can also be your own solution. The solution is to re-focus your attention on the other person or people you are with. Ask yourself – Why are they here? What information do they need? How can I make a positive difference in their world?

When you begin to focus on your listener instead of the negative voice in your head, you can increase your effectiveness and your credibility.


Did you know that 5 deep breaths can actually “reboot” your physiology? Think about it…when someone is really stressing out, what is the first thing you tell them to do? That’s right, “take a deep breath.”

Why? When your breath is rapid and shallow, your brain’s interpretation is that you are in danger. When you shift your breath so that it is frequent and deep, it is an automatic signal to your brain that you are safe.

Not only will your breath keep your body relaxed, but it will ensure your brain is receiving the oxygen it needs for clarity of your thoughts and responses.

Find Something to Get Excited About

Let’s face it, if you don’t care about what you are talking about, nobody else will either. When you are bored, tired or lacking energy, so is your audience. If you are wondering why your team or your supervisors or your customers are not “jumping on board,” this is often the reason why.

It all changes when you show enthusiasm and passion surrounding an idea, project, problem or solution. Your passion and enthusiasm equate to energy. It’s all about energy, and your energy is contagious.

You may have to dig deep when it comes to finding your passion or enthusiasm for a topic – especially if it is someone else’s passion and they have asked you to talk about it. Ask yourself –What about this is important to me? How does this support what I value and believe? What is the difference it could make for the people it impacts, and how is this important to me?

Once you connect with your true passion for the topic at hand, it will be conveyed in your voice and in your face. You will “light up” and so will the people around you.

Image courtesy of digitalart at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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