The 7 Seconds That Matter Most

'You don't get a second chance to make a good first impression'. Research has shown that within those initial 7 seconds, people will form 11 impressions of you.


In the same way that body language affects communication, first impressions affect communication, and can establish the entirety of a relationship.  These first impressions are, as it happens, made up almost entirely of value judgements, regarding intentions, credibility, authenticity, aptitude and general likability. Positive judgements stimulate more communication, while negative judgements restrict it. So there’s a strong case for being in control of the impressions we make…

Recognising the link

There’s an intrinsic link between body language and first impressions, and understanding the relationship between the two is a key part of refining your communication skills.

So how can you ensure that your body speaks the language of success? Well here’s a few top tips to help you on your way.

1. Adopt a positive posture

Whether sitting or standing, posture should be positive and perpendicular. The back should be straight but not rigid, while the shoulders should be relaxed, not slumped. This helps to create an aura of confidence and authority.

2. Uncross limbs

It’s an all too common habit for people to cross their arms and legs when they’re engaging in conversation. When meeting someone for the first time this is definitely something to avoid as it creates a defensive sense of negativity. Instead, keep arms relaxed while listening, and legs uncrossed in order to appear open and absorbed.

3. Lean in

Demonstrate focus and genuine interest by leaning in a little when listening to another person speak. Remember, this should be a natural movement, not a forced slant.

4. Mirror body movements

Build trust by mirroring the body language of the person you’re communicating with. This creates a subconscious sense of solidarity.

5. Use hand gestures

Add depth to conversations by using hand gestures to reinforce verbal communication. This engages the listener, and brings an air of confidence and authority to your voice. Plus, research has also shown that using hand movements while speaking actively improves the thought process.

6. Maintain eye contact

Nothing jeopardises first impressions like lack of eye contact. Locking eyes not only proves that you’re interested, but is also associated with confidence and self-assurance. Remember, there’s a difference between eye contact and staring, so be sure to tread the line. You're never fully dressed without a smile too, and smiling with your eyes shows you for the warm and respectful person you are.

To sum up…

Body language is an incredibly complex arena, and the above is just a snippet of how both conscious and unconscious gestures influence verbal communication. If you want to refine your skills as a native or non-native English speaker, London Speech Workshop’s unique Serlin Method™ draws on psychological, emotional and practical elements to dynamically improve communication performance.

Want to take your first steps to effective communication? Book a free taster call with us.

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