As the festive season is about to start, many organisations and their clients will be hosting events and there isn’t a better time to ensure that you have the skills to represent your organisation effectively and without embarrassment.
So let’s start from the moment you enter the room… here are the 7 things that make a good first impression:
- The way you enter a room: your posture, how you make eye contact, your sense of yourself and how confident you feel, will all communicate to others how comfortable you are to be there.
Ensure you relax, prepare to enjoy the event and with that intent, people will be more interested in engaging in conversation with you.
- The way you speak and introduce yourself: Your 10 second introduction; make sure you have an interesting intro and have practiced so that it sounds very natural. I recommend three ‘bubbles of information:
- Who you are. Say your name and please always use first and last name when introducing yourself. Studies show that most women only use their first name.
- What you do. Please say the end benefit of your role, for example you can say I am a lawyer, doctor, retail consultant, hairdresser but tell people the value of what you do rather than a list of your qualifications. You can also say what you love about your work or what led you to it. This can be the most interesting and memorable part of your intro.
Example: my background is in finance but I have always had a passion for xxxxxx and now I combine those in my role as……
Example: “I enable 2,000 performances at QPAC “(the actual role is contracts manager – which do you think sounds more interesting?)
Example: I am an Accountant or you could say “ I am the first person my clients call when the ATO contacts them”. Again much more interesting and a great conversation starter.
- Your handshake: make sure you have a firm handshake (not to soft, not too hard) people immediately get a sense of who you are and how confident you are from your handshake.
- Your composure (controlling nerves); make sure you breathe. I highly recommend you regularly practice breathing exercises, yoga, tai chi – anything that enables you to relax when you start to feel nervous or anxious.
- How you stand: your posture will communicate much more than what you say about yourself. Always stand straight, hold your head up and make sure you look like you are pleased to be there rather than bored wishing you were home with your feet up watching TV.
- What you are wearing; If it’s a work function, please wear something professional. This doesn’t mean boring or conservative just appropriate for work. I have seen women wearing a low-cut sheer black dress with gold patent shoes …at a morning boardroom workshop!!!
- The art of conversation: have a few current topics ready – steer away from politics. Movies, art, music are safer, if you prefer business chat then read the newspaper that morning and pick out some topics on which you feel comfortable sharing your opinion. Please also remember that being a good listener is the very best conversation skill to acquire.
An important note about alcohol at work events: – yes it is wonderful to have a glass of bubbles when you first arrive as it can help you to relax. However it is how you handle it at work events that will have a very big impact on the impression you make at these events. Here are some tips:
- Have a glass of water or sparkling water on arrival. You may have rushed to get to the event, may feel a little nervous and alcohol can have the effect of high octane fuel. Hydrate with a glass of water first.
- I highly recommend that you have a glass of sparkling water in between each glass of alcohol. I often ask the waiter to give me sparkling water in a champagne flute. This will ensure that you remain in control of yourself, always look professional and will avoid the hangover the next morning.
- At client events, I always made a point of leaving no later than 9pm. You may wish to go out to dinner with a few of the guests however staying any later can lead to a risk of over indulging and/or having a more relaxed demeanour. At work events, you want people to know that you are professional and can control yourself. Remember they are work events. Whatever you do with your friends or at your own parties is another thing.
So, try some of these tips, enjoy the event, be professional and have a wonderful festive season.
In the Fastlane