16 Ways to Make a Good First Impression

16 Ways to Make a Good First Impression

by Duncan Muguku

This article highlights tips on how to make a good first impression.

The first thing about making a good first impression is dressing appropriately for the correct occasion.

Next is taking good grooming seriously in terms of hair well combed, nails trimmed, clean clothes etc. Then the verbal and nonverbal signals that you emit come into play.

How do you seat or stand? What is your posture saying? How do you speak? Are you too loud, too soft or just the right amount of intonation or voice projection? Are you speaking nonstop without letting others talk?

Are you just quiet and not putting in a word? What facial expressions are you projecting? Are you smiling or frowning? What emotions are within you – are your emotions “leaking out”?

You can quickly skim all the 16 ways on the table of contents below and then click on any tip to read further details. Please enjoy reading. Thank you.


  1. Dress appropriately according to the occasion
  2. Groom yourself well
  3. Walk confidently, stand tall and straight
  4. Smile
  5. Maintain eye contact
  6. Offer a firm handshake
  7. Be polite
  8. Be upbeat and positive
  9. Be genuine
  10. Be assertive and self-confident
  11. Remember the other person’s name
  12. Don’t interrupt others while they are talking
  13. Project your voice well
  14. Listen twice as much as you talk
  15. Demonstrate understanding by paraphrasing
  16. Resist the urge to finish other people’s sentences


1. Dress appropriately according to the occasion

Different occasions dictate the type of dressing required such as dressing for an interview, going to work, attending a wedding, a dinner date etc.

How to dress well and how to dress to impress are two skills that aid in making a positive first impression.

Dressing well includes having a good understanding of your body shape and what type of clothes makes you look and feel good.

You can dress to impress by wearing clothes that fit well, clothes that flatter your body, and clothes that are comfortable.

Express your uniqueness though color, prints, patterns, designs etc. Adorn a few accessories that complement your overall look.

When shopping for clothes buy good quality outfits that can last a long time and be mixed with other outfits to create different looks.

Know and be aware of the fashion trends and decide which trends you will embrace and which ones to ignore.

“Wearing the correct dress for any occasion is a matter of good manners.” ― Loretta Young


2. Groom yourself well

Good grooming is all about taking care of the basics such as well combed hair, shaving, fresh shower, applying deodorant, moisturizer, perfume, make-up, teeth brushed, mouthwash used as necessary, neat fingernails, shoes well-polished, and clean clothes.

In short good grooming entails ensuring the package that is you is gift wrapped and well put together.

“Good grooming is integral and impeccable style is a must. If you don’t look the part, no one will want to give you time or money.” ― Daymond John


3. Walk confidently, stand tall and straight

Your posture can signal strength or weakness. How you walk and stand can make a good or bad impression.

To make a good impression walk with a purpose, walk comfortably and confidently. Avoid looking nervous, unsure or having a hunched posture.

Part of walking tall begins from dressing well in comfortable clothes, wearing well-fitting shoes and feeding your mind with warm positive thoughts.

Keep your head up, shoulders straight, walk fast with energy, and look towards where you are going.

You can also practice how to walk tall in private until you master a pace that you can call your own.

“Regardless of how you feel inside, always try to look like a winner. Even if you are behind, a sustained look of control and confidence can give you a mental edge that results in victory.” ― Diane Arbus


4. Smile

A real smile creates warmth, friendliness and good feelings. Smiling denotes pleasure, so you can also smile as you great someone for the first time and genuine say “I’m pleased to meet you”.

Smiling will brighten both you and the other person. It makes the conversation smoother and enjoyable. It also helps to break down barriers.

When you smile you look more approachable, it breaks in-built defenses, opens up the conversation and helps in building relationships.

People who smile genuinely also appear confident and trustworthy and they draw people them.

Benefits of smiling and laughter include: reducing stress, improving your mood and that of others, happier relationships, jovial interactions, getting more work accomplished, and an overall sense of personal peace of mind and satisfaction.

“A smile is a curve that sets everything straight.” ― Phyllis Diller


5. Maintain eye contact

You can make a good first impression by maintaining eye contact with people when you meet them for the first time.

Looking at someone in the eyes as they are talking with conveys the message that you are interested in what they are saying and are paying full attention.

It warms up the other party and they feel honored and respected. It encourages them to continue talking.

At the same time maintaining eye contact does not imply a constant fixed gaze where you stare at someone’s eyes.

Instead you should have fluid movement where you can glance from one eye to another or look away naturally then look back again at the person.

Maintaining good eye contact comes with a bit of practice. The bottom line is that you should feel and appear relaxed.

You should not come across as insincere, rehearsed or uncomfortable. The end goal is to know how to make soft and genuine eye contact.

When talking to more than one person make effort to look at each person and not focus on one person only.

“As any speaker will tell you, when you address a large number of people from a stage, you try to make eye contact with people in the audience to communicate that you’re accessible and interested in them.” ― Simon Mainwaring


6. Offer a firm handshake

A handshake helps you to connect with the other person. A firm handshake is impressive. It leaves an impression on the other person.

The art of a good handshake entails making the right contact and applying just the right amount of squeeze or pressure – not too much and not too little i.e. not weak or limp and not bone crushing either.

Shake hands when you meet someone and when you leave. Stand when shaking someone’s hand. Maintain eye contact and smile.

Greet the other person as you shake their hand as you introduce yourself or while another person introduces you.

Shake hands for a few seconds with at least two or three up and down movements.

“To build your self image, you need to join the smile, firm handshake and compliment club.” ― Zig Ziglar


7. Be polite

The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines polite as “having or showing behavior that is respectful and considerate of other people.”

Being polite can not only apply to face to face interactions but also other forms of communication such as written communication – an email, a social media post, a tweet, a text message etc.

There are numerous ways of demonstrating politeness such as: putting your phone on vibrate during conversations, listening attentively to others and not looking at your phone when talking with someone, sending an RSVP when invited for events, and not talking loudly on the phone in public places.

Other forms of politeness include responding to messages in a timely manner, addressing people properly with their titles, avoid making excuses or blaming others, practicing common courtesy, greeting others, asking open ended questions, using proper language, not backbiting others and being happy for others successes.

Good manners are also demonstrated by not allowing external circumstances to change your attitude, being helpful to others, apologizing when you make mistakes, respecting other people’s time and space, being tactful, being teachable, listening to others opinions, and being cooperative.

Politeness can also be extended while driving – on the road let others pass, indicate when you are turning or changing lanes and be courteous of other drivers and pedestrians.

“Being polite and grateful will make people more inclined to help you. And if people are willing to help you, you may accidentally get something you want.” ― Jason Sudeikis


8. Be upbeat and positive

Staying upbeat and positive can endear you to others and make a favorable impression.

Especially if you are able to stay calm and positive during stressful and challenging situations this can set you apart from the crowd.

There are many ways to be positive including: practice seeing possibilities in every challenge, anticipate setbacks wherever possible and take action, speak in positive uplifting language, project confidence, don’t compare yourself with others, and don’t be held back by what other people think.

Other ways of being positive and upbeat include practicing gratitude, accepting and knowing that there will be obstacles in life and be ok with that, having positive friends, making a decision to improve your life for the better and taking baby steps to achieve this,

Be positive by relaxing, playing, exercising, trying new things, meeting new people, enjoying nature and the outdoors, getting inspired by others and taking small steps to achieve what you want.

Be positive by having hobbies that brighten your day, listening to music, visualizing your success, helping others, practicing positive self-talk and not being critical of yourself, and finally laughing and having fun.

“If you want to be positive, upbeat, and passionate, you need to take responsibility for being that way.” ― John C. Maxwell


9. Be genuine

Many people in life feel pressured to get aboard the conformity train. To do what everyone is doing and act like everyone else but the casualty is ourselves when we end up hurting inside and feeling resentful.

Perhaps you had a good idea to present but you hesitated because it would rock the boat.

Being genuine entails being direct in your communication and delivering it tactfully, being present, involved and engaged during conversations and not being absent minded.

Some of the reasons why feelings of not being genuine arise include when we try too hard to please others, caring so much about what other people think, struggling to be perfect and the never ending quest for perfectionism, comparing ourselves with others and feeling that we fall short, avoiding conflict, trying to protect ourselves from rejection, seeking attention, and fear of criticism.

You can make a good impression by learning to comfortably deal with life’s ups and downs, being more loving and forgiving towards ourselves and others, not judging others, letting go of biases and preconceived notions, and confidently sharing your ideas and opinions with others,

Other ways of being genuine include laughing at yourself, appreciating yourself, keeping your commitment to yourself and others, aspiring for something in your life, listening to your gut instincts, knowing your likes and dislikes and how to compensate for them, building healthy relationships, and appreciating and supporting others.

“Genuine good taste consists in saying much in few words, in choosing among our thoughts, in having order and arrangement in what we say, and in speaking with composure.” ― Francois Fenelon


10. Be assertive and self-confident

You can make a good impression by being self-confident and having self-assurance. The way you carry yourself speaks volumes.

Speak up with confidence and let your voice be heard. No one will know what is on your mind unless you say it.

Practice thinking ahead before encountering situations and mentally run through what will be your course of action or your discussion points.

You can speak clearly, with authority and still be respectful at the same time.

Always be considerate of other people’s feelings. Make an effort to read the other person to understand their feelings and demeanor but keep in mind that you are not responsible for how they feel or act.

One area where self-confidence shows itself is when you are given a compliment or thanked for doing something.

Accept the compliment graciously and thank the person. Think well of yourself.

A confident person knows his or her limitations and weaknesses and is not afraid to ask for help when appropriate.

Additionally, accepting one’s mistakes, owning up to them and learning from them is a mark of self-confidence.

Facing problems and challenges and figuring out how to solve them and actually taking action demonstrates self-confidence.

“We can say what we need to say. We can gently, but assertively, speak our mind. We do not need to be judgmental, tactless, blaming or cruel when we speak our truths” ― Melody Beattie


11. Remember the other person’s name

A classic way to make a good first impression is by remembering people’s names especially if you meet a number of people for the first time, then they introduce themselves and you immediately remember everyone’s names – you are sure to make a favorable impression.

You can refer to each person by name sparingly during the course of conversation.

Remembering people’s names shows that you are attentive. It also makes connections and interactions easier. So why do people forget names easily?

Sometimes even after someone has just told you their name, somehow it becomes hard to recall the name.

Some steps to remembering people’s names include saying the name aloud in a sentence as soon as someone tells you their name, repeating the name consciously in your mind and making a deliberate effort to remember it, and linking the name to a fact about the person such as what they do or what they like.

If possible you can quickly write down the name on your phone or notes to remind yourself. Better yet if you can exchange business cards that would be even more helpful.

You can also politely request the person to repeat their name and this time round be super alert to remember it.

“I always have trouble remembering three things: faces, names, and – I can’t remember what the third thing is.” ― Fred Allen


12. Don’t interrupt others while they are talking

Nobody likes being interrupted when they are talking yet many people are guilty of interrupting at one point or another.

Interrupting can cause the conversation to move in a different direction, result in loss of train of thought, and can lead to a situation where two people are talking at the same time.

Interrupting conveys a host of negative connotations including disrespect, disregard, impatience, contempt, annoyance and many others.

On the other hand, people who are interrupting might be unaware that they were doing it and they were simply trying to meaningfully contribute to the discussion. Nevertheless continuous interruptions can be unwelcome.

The easiest cure is not to interrupt in the first place. By exercising your willpower and restraint, it is indeed possible to avoid interrupting.

Decide to keenly listen and absorb the information that the other person is saying and jump into the discussion only after they have finished talking.

“There cannot be greater rudeness than to interrupt another in the current of his discourse.” ― John Locke


13. Project your voice well

Relax, breathe easily, sit or stand straight in a position where you feel comfortable talking and talk slower.

Do not be afraid of making pauses, in fact when pauses are positioned appropriately they help the message to sink in.

You can practice projecting your voice by recording yourself to hear how you sound at different voice ranges. How do you sound when your voice is low, at a medium pitch or high?

How comfortable do you feel? For how long are you able to sustain your voice at different volumes? Are you able to speak naturally or do you sound different?

Ultimately the main purpose of voice projection is ensuring that you are heard clearly and your message is delivered at the right pitch and tone.

Voice projection is especially valuable during group meetings and when giving a speech in front of an audience.

Two tips for public speaking effectiveness are to talk slower and stay hydrated – drink water before and during the speech as needed.

Projecting your voice well gives you confidence and supports the effective delivery of your message.

Even in one-on-one conversations, the use of volume – high or low, can be used effectively to emphasize a point.

“You have to get to know your voice and its strengths and play on those. It took me quite a long time.” ― Glenn Tipton


14. Listen twice as much as you talk

The ability to listen well affects how others perceive you.

People appreciate someone who gives them their undivided attention when they are talking with you. They feel more comfortable talking with you and are likely to entertain talking with you again in the future.

Some tips for listening keenly to someone include:

  • Showing understanding through nonverbal cues such as nodding your head where appropriate.
  • Maintaining eye contact.
  • Asking genuine open ended questions.
  • Shutting out other distractions on your mind and in the surrounding environment.
  • Not passing any judgement.
  • Agreeableness.
  • Contributing to the conversation.
  • Not being afraid of silence during conversations.

Turn offs during listening include multitasking, no eye contact, focusing on external distractions, appearing bored, absent-minded, impatient or disinterested, interrogating someone with endless questions and the tone of voice used.

“We have two ears and one mouth so that we can listen twice as much as we speak.” ― Epictetus


15. Demonstrate understanding by paraphrasing

Create rapport by repeating back in your own words what you have just heard.

This shows the other party that you are paying attention and it offers them the opportunity to clarify anything that you might have misunderstood.

Paraphrasing helps to capture the key points in a conversation and ask questions to clarify areas where you need better understanding or more information. It increases your understanding and absorption of the information.

Repeating back a brief summary of what you just heard conveys interest in the discussion and also helps to keep the conversation going on smoothly. It encourages the other person to feel heard, respected and continue talking.

It is essential to note that paraphrasing should be done wisely and sparingly – use your best judgement at all times. If paraphrasing is overdone it can quickly irritate others.

“To effectively communicate, we must realize that we are all different in the way we perceive the world and use this understanding as a guide to our communication with others.” ― Tony Robbins


16. Resist the urge to finish other people’s sentences

Attempting to finish someone’s sentences can be off-putting because it sends wrong signals such as: I can’t wait for you to finish talking, get to the point quickly – you are taking too long, I already know what you wanted to say, I want to guide and control your thought process or control the conclusions, my words are more important than yours etc.

Whereas it might appear to be a harmless behavior and you might genuinely have good intentions such being very engaged in the discussion, finishing other people’s sentences on a regular basis can become irritating and condescending.

It will not endear you to the people with whom you are talking with.

It can also create tense and embarrassing situations where you had assumed that someone wanted to say one thing but they had actually wanted to say something else and now they are put in the awkward situation of having to correct you and clarify that they were going to say something different instead.

Practice staying silent, taking a deep breath and holding back your words until you are sure the other person has completely finished talking.

You demonstrate respect and patience by patiently listening to what is being said and not trying to cut short or bring the conversation to an end at your own pace.

“Most of the successful people I’ve known are the ones who do more listening than talking.” ― Bernard Baruch


Additional Resources on How to Make a Good First Impression

  1. 13 Habits To Make An Amazing First Impression (Every Time)
  2. 19 Ways To Ensure You Make A Great First Impression
  3. 5 Ways To Make a Killer First Impression
  4. How to Make a Great First Impression: 9 Tips to Try
  5. How to Make a Great First Impression
  6. 10 Ways To Make a Great First Impression
  7. How to Make a Great First Impression


16 Ways to Make a Good First Impression
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16 Ways to Make a Good First Impression
This article highlights ways to make a good first impression. Tips include being upbeat and positive, being self-confident, remembering other people’s names, not interrupting, projecting your voice well, listening keenly, paraphrasing to show understanding, smiling, maintaining eye contact and a firm handshake etc.
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