It can be extremely helpful to know how to make a good first impression. Science reveals the best methods you can use in any situation.
Do you want to make an impact for that job interview? Got a date coming up that you want to go well? It all starts with first impressions and goes from there, so this article is going to tell you, scientifically, how to make a good first impression.
It’s all about the voice
The Journal of Psychological Science conducted a study with students from the University of Chicago to find out what made the best impression to a group of prospective employers and professional recruiters. Each student made a video pitching why they should be hired by the potential employer, and the employer was given three ways in which to hear the pitch: watch the video, listen to the audio, or read a transcript of the audio.
Ultimately, the evaluators deemed the candidates much more competent and intelligent when they heard the pitch, rather than when they read it, giving them a more favourable view on the candidate. Even when the pitch was read by actors and not the student themselves, the result was the same. Watching the video had no significant effect on the opinions of the recruiters, showing that, if you want to convey intelligence and competency, it’s important to be heard.
Our voices have been carefully honed through evolutionary development to be able to communicate with others in the most successful way possible. We are able to intonate and accentuate certain words in speech, and this expressiveness gets lost when our words are in text form. Anyone can write down clever words, but to think of them on the spot as you craft sentences shows a higher level of intelligence and thoughtfulness.
So, how to make a good first impression, based on this information?
There are a number of ways that you can really make your voice work for you and get ahead of the competition.
Use a lower pitch
High pitched voices are generally associated with nervousness, and in some cases, even childishness, and this affects how confident and mature you are perceived by the other party. Speaking in a calm, low tone gives the impression that you know what you’re talking about and you’re confident that you know what you’re talking about, which makes a huge difference when you meet someone for the first time.
Stumbling over your words can make you come across as though you don’t know what you’re saying, you’re unconfident, or you’re nervous. There are a number reasons that you may stumble over your words, but practicing what you’re going to say a few times can go a long way in making you more confident and coherent when you’re in the conversation.
Some different vocal exercises can also help if you want to make an impression at a job interview or pitch. Practice different passages of text, try speaking at different speeds and a throw in a few tongue twisters to help loosen up your muscles and prepare you for speaking in front of people, or to someone. Eventually, it will also help you learn how to make a good first impression.
It may seem counterintuitive, as all the way through school teachers always told us to speak slow. However, Brigham Young University ran a study investigating different speaking paces to try and find the best rate and found that faster speakers are perceived to be more confident. They found that the optimum speaking rate is 150 words per minute.
Speaking too fast can make it seem as though you’re nervous and they won’t be able to understand you, so try to be coherent in your speed. Practice with different passages of text and even read to someone to help you get the pace right so that you can appear confident, without losing anyone’s attention.
Avoid Filler Words
Filler words such as, ‘um,’ ‘err,’ and, ‘like,’ which are called vocal crutches. Psychologically, they help you stall time while you think of the next sentence, but in reality, they can really make you seem less confident and incompetent. Believe it or not, it’s actually better to pause in the middle of speaking than to use one of these filler words.
To really get rid of them, record yourself speaking and listen to it a few times a day. Once you’re comfortable with the content, you’ll be able to speak it much more confidently and completely crutch free, allowing you to really impress with your first impression.
As you can see, your voice can really make a huge difference in how others perceive you, especially if it is the first meeting. Keeping an eye on your voice and how you speak to people can make a much better impression and give you an advantage over the competition.
We hope that these tips have helped you to learn how to make a good first impression, and we wish you luck with your job interview, date or any other important event.