While the featured speaker at your conference may only be on stage for 40, 60 or 90 minutes, as a meeting professional, you are most likely “on stage” throughout the entire conference. From corporate clients to team members, venue partners to service providers and conference chairs to attendees—the variety and number of people you are in contact with seems to be endless. Making a stellar first impression on them should always be at the forefront of your mind. This is because once one an opinion has been formed, it can be hard to change and will dominate someone’s view of you regardless of how often it is contradicted by new experiences. Therefore, your “stage performance” prior, during and after a conference should be a top priority for you and its success will depend on four basic elements.
A for your Appearance
Whether you like it or not, your visual appearance makes a powerful impression on people within only a few seconds of meeting them. The clothes you wear, your hygiene, your hairstyle, your makeup or grooming habits, your jewelry and of course, the “suit you are born in”—your body—the visual picture that you paint influences how people subconsciously begin to make decisions about you. Are you healthy? Do you take care of yourself? Are you dressed appropriately for the occasion and the audience you are welcoming? Can they trust you or not? As uncomfortable as it may be, people subconsciously put you under a microscope prior, during and after an event. However, to be very clear: looking good is great, but not enough. Because…
B for Behavior
While your appearance will be the first thing they observe, your attitude will introduce you next and long before you speak. Your smile, the eye contact you make, simple gestures and your posture will immediately determine how warm and inviting you are and how comfortable you make them feel. A positive attitude doesn’t mean that you keep your head in the sand and ignore the often stressful situations you encounter as a meeting professional. However, by showcasing an optimistic attitude, you might be able to transform the mindsets of people surrounding you. While some may approach you focused on criticism and complaints during stressful situations, it’s your chance to immediately signal that you care about them by listening to their needs and finding practical solutions. Because …
C for Communication
Good communication starts with listening. Many think that communication is about talking so they jump right into giving advice, analyzing, arguing or simply talking, talking, talking. But good communication requires good listening. Others might be sharing information about themselves, their company, their hopes and their worries. Only after you’ve paid attention to all of it will you be able to present clear and concise information in a way that is easily understood, organized and well thought out. In addition, you should keep the tone of your voice, the volume of your speech and how fast or slow you talk in mind. On the other hand, you already say so much more before you ever enter the room because…
D for Digital Footprint
Before anyone meets you, they have most likely already done some research online about you, the company you work for or the event you are responsible for. Nowadays, the first impression you make on others rarely starts with a handshake. It happens during the new form of background check—a Google search. Make sure your social media profiles, including LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and any business sites you have are up to date. Monitoring what is being said about you, your company and your events online should therefore become part of your daily routine.
The most important thing though to remember when it comes to your first and lasting impression is to trust yourself. Putting yourself out there and being “on stage” as a meeting professional can be hard, exhausting and cause anxiety in some. But trusting yourself and being confident about who you are and what you have to offer is crucial throughout this process. Confidence is your best designer. It makes all the difference.
Keynote speaker and corporate trainer Sylvie di Giusto, CSP takes audiences around the world on an entertaining and engaging journey that reveals how others perceive them and thus perceive the value of their abilities, their services or their company.