We can’t help but have an image, it’s impossible to not have one. You will always hear me refer to the A, B, C as the key areas to think about – Appearance, Body Language & Communication skills (voice). These are the areas that impact the first impression we make on others and the perception they form of us. These areas can be discussed for hours so today is all about providing the bare essentials of image for you to consider when you are going to a meeting. Think of it as your image checklist that no matter how much of a hurry you are in, it’s essential to consult.
Whenever I run workshops and I ask others people what they notice about others, the list is varied but also very simple. It really is the small things that make the difference. You want to avoid any distractions in a professional context so that people focus on what you are saying. It’s no good having an Armani suit on if you haven’t bothered with basic personal grooming!
Here are the top 10 things on the image checklist:
- Focal point – glance at yourself in a mirror, where does your eye go? Are you happy with someone else’s eye going there.
- Basic hygiene and grooming – clean you, clean shoes and look like you’ve made an effort in terms of hair and nails are all essential. If you can’t turn up with clean nails, people will doubt your ability to do your job as ridiculous as that sounds. It’s about being bothered.
- Well-fitting clothes – so they look like they are yours!
- Clean and cared for shoes – despite the fact they are on the floor, most people notice the state of shoes.
- Appropriate colour choices – think about what the colours you have chosen might communicate and whether this is appropriate for the meeting context. For example, red communicates power and dynamism in Western culture.
- Open body language – despite how you may be feeling, you need to make sure you take up appropriate space and you don’t tighten your arms across your body in any way, such as folding them.
- Emotion in your voice – if you have had a difficult day or are feeling a particular emotion, try to ensure this isn’t communicated in your voice unless appropriate (click here to read my article on voice).
- Posture – keep yourself standing and sitting tall. Slumped posture can communicate sentiments you don’t want to communicate and look sloppy and disengaged.
- Mannerisms – consider any that may be distracting or which are more exaggerated when you are nervous or bored. Awareness is the starting point to preventing them.
- Defining the time you are in the room – make sure your perfume/aftershave isn’t so strong it remains in the room after you.