Start well. End well. Did you know…

14th December 2022

… First impressions are critical.

Here are three situations. Each has two different first impressions/opening sentences. In each case, which one do you prefer?

When someone calls you, their first sentence is either:

  1. Sorry to trouble you, or
  2. I’m glad I caught you

When meeting with an important customer/colleague:

  1. Thank you for sparing the time to see me
  2. I’ve been looking forward to our meeting. How are you?

At the start of a weekly update meeting…

  1. (sigh) Right everyone – same stuff, different week. Let’s try and get through it as quickly as we can. I’ll try and finish on time
  2. Morning! I thought we’d try something different today. It’ll make things quicker – so we’ll finish our meeting earlier

In all cases, the second option is better.

In the first example, the sentence #2 is positive and intriguing; #1 is negative and apologetic.

The second pair’s #2’s puts us as the equal of the other person, not like #1’s subservient thanking them for gracing us with their time.

The final one… Well, #1 is clearly rubbish! Though, sadly, we’ve all been to meetings that started like this!

Your opening sentence sets the tone for your whole communication.

Which makes it disproportionately important.

Which means it needs disproportionate attention and care.

That’s why I spend at least 20% of my prep time scripting and practising the first 1% of my communications.

Because I know that, when my start goes well, everything will be fine. But if it doesn’t … I might never recover. And more importantly, neither might my audience.

So, because First Impressions are so critical…

Action Point

… for your next meeting today – before it starts – script and practise the best words to open it. What will you say, to set the tone for a positive, equal-not-subservient, valuable interaction?

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