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Tips on making a good first impression

By Kim Harrison,

Consultant, Author and Principal of

Making a good impression immediately on others is crucial to PR professionals because research shows that others size you up within seconds of meeting you – and good relationships are vital.

Despite the overwhelming focus on social media and digital technology around us these days, the most important interactions in public relations still take place in person, face-to-face. Everything else is just a substitute. Social commentator and observer Gretchen Rubin offers valuable suggestions on how to make a good first impression when you meet someone, especially when they are important to you:

  • Smile and lean toward others as they talk.

  • At least at the start, focus on positive comments, not criticisms or complaints.

  • Look them in the eye more than you look away. And don’t keep looking away as though you are looking for someone better to talk to.

  • If standing, keep your body fully facing the people you’re speaking with.

  • Ask questions and follow up on people’s remarks; don’t just use their response as a way to talk about yourself on the same subject, ie talking past them.

  • Nevertheless, try to find common experiences or interests.

  • Don’t interrupt.

  • Listen genuinely to what the other person says, and focus on opinions and feelings, not just facts.

  • Find ways to compliment the other person. People still like flattery even though they know it is flattery.

  • Mention some vulnerabilities and laugh at yourself.

  • Draw others out and encourage people to join the conversation. This creates a perception of leadership.

  • Put energy in your voice.

  • Offer a variety of topics; to do this, pre-prepare some topics.

  • Share observations about everyday life.

  • Share your passions and interests.

  • Don’t dwell on the trivia of your life, especially annoyances.

  • Remember: people give more weight to their early information (Were you engaged, warm, distracted, pompous?) than to later information, so be at your most charming at the beginning of the conversation.

  • Remember: people enjoy the chat to be about themselves rather than about you.

About the Author

Kim Harrison is a recognized authority in the public relations field. His website,, provides a wealth of informative articles and resources on public relations techniques and management.


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