9 ways to make a great first impression in 30 seconds or less

We’d all like to be able to make a great first impression every time we meet someone.

It’s super useful both at home and in the workplace. For example, while you might want to make a great first impression on a potential employer, you’d also want to make a great first impression when you meet your partner’s parents.

The good news is that there are plenty of things you can do to make a great first impression. Let’s take a look at just a few of them.

1) Smile

This is one of the easiest and most powerful things you can do if you want to make a good impression, because you don’t actually have to mean it.

Sure, they say that you can tell when someone’s smile doesn’t spread to their eyes, but I find that to be something that I hear about in books and not something I see in reality. That’s especially true when we’re in the business world.

Let’s face it, most of us are playing a role in the workplace. Perhaps our true personalities aren’t particularly SFW (safe for work), or maybe we just pretend to be more extroverted than we really are.

Whatever the case, the chances are that a fake smile or two will slip beneath the radar.

2) Make eye contact

Eye contact is the big one, and the only reason why I didn’t mention it first is because it’s so obvious.

When you make eye contact with people, they’ll see you as more trustworthy and more genuine. This also holds true across all sorts of cultural and geographic barriers, and so you can consider it as being one of the most universal tips I have to share.

Of course, some people struggle to make eye contact with other people. I’m one of them. If that’s the case, I try to focus on a point just above and to the right of their head, and that’s usually good enough.

3) Have a firm handshake

I’ve always found this one to be a little strange, because I’ve never been the kind of person who even notices other people’s handshakes.

But there are plenty of old school people out there who will use your handshake as an indicator of your personality. The idea is that people with firm handshakes tend to be bolder and more authoritative, although I’m not sure that I agree.

Regardless, if you want to make a good first impression on people, it pays to make a specific effort to have a firm handshake.

Especially in the workplace.

4) Use the other person’s name

Dale Carnegie, the author of How to Win Friends and Influence People, famously said that names are the sweetest and most important sound in any language.

By this, he basically meant that we’re all hardwired to automatically respond to people when they use our name. This makes it a great shortcut for making a decent first impression.

Now, I’m terrible with names, and so I use a handy little trick I picked up somewhere. When I meet someone and they tell me their name, I repeat it to myself five times.

And so if you want to make a good first impression, make sure that you take note of someone’s name, that you remember it and that you use it at the earliest opportunity.

5) Have good posture

The way that you sit speaks volumes.

If you immediately slouch in your chair or you sit back and put your feet up when you’re in a formal situation, you’re going to come across as rude. You’re going to make a bad impression.

And so perhaps this point is more about not making a bad impression than actively making a good one. Still, maintaining a strong posture will show that you’re disciplined and that you’re interested in what’s going on around you.

6) Dress appropriately

Nothing conveys a bad first impression like not being dressed for the occasion.

Imagine if a groom showed up to a wedding in his gym gear, or if someone turned up to a job interview wearing only a bikini.

They say that you should dress for the job that you want, not the job that you have. That’s true in the workplace, but it also has relevancy to our home lives.

In other words, if you’re off to meet new people and you want to make a good impression, you should dress to impress.

7) Use active listening

Active listening is a type of listening in which we go out of our way to understand the person that we’re talking to.

Often, when we’re talking to someone, we spend the time while they’re talking figuring out what we’re going to say in response to them.

The problem is that if we’re doing that, we’re not paying proper attention. Active listeners go out of their way to give the person they’re speaking to their undivided attention.

This typically also includes by asking them open-ended questions to encourage them to keep talking. And of course, it’s a great way to make a good first impression.

8) Find common ground

If you want to make a good first impression when you’re first meeting someone, you’ll want to try to find some common ground as quickly as possible.

Often, that common ground is easy to find because it’s dictated by the circumstances of your meeting. If you’re trying to break the ice with someone you met at a running event, you can quickly start to bond by talking about running.

Sometimes, you can get a head start by doing a little research into the person you’re going to meet. If that’s not possible, it gets a little bit harder.

Instead, if you want to find common ground, you’re going to need to practice that active listening we were talking about.

9) Put your phone away

It always surprises me how often people forget this one.

When we’re spending time with someone, nothing is quite as disrespectful as when we spend half our time looking at our phones. It tells them that we’re more interested in our phones than we are in them.

Even if you’re expecting an important call or you have a good reason to keep checking your phone, it’s a good idea to silence it and to keep it in your pocket as much as possible.

It’s actually so rare for people to keep their phone in their pocket that people will notice. And they’ll be impressed.


Now that you know a few of the top ways to make a great first impression, you’re in the perfect place to put what you’ve learned into practice.

The great thing about these tips is that you can apply them to pretty much any situation. All you need to do is to remember them so that when you next need to make a good impression, you’re able to do so.

Good luck out there!

Dane Cobain

Dane Cobain is a published author, freelance writer and (occasional) poet and musician with a passion for language and learning. When he’s not working on his next release, he can be found reading and reviewing books while trying not to be distracted by Wikipedia.

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