How important are first impressions?

I recently went to a “Master Chef cook off” with 40 of my peers for an evening of incredible fun, competition and culinary up-skilling. Cheeky Food Group founder and entrepreneur, Leona Watson, ran our evening, along with entrepreneur, David Bitton, founder of Bitton Café.


Apart from wearing an apron to protect ourselves, we got a few tips on knife skills and these two very successful people shared something that stayed fixed in my thoughts the entire night as I was mixing, beating and constructing my way through the event… “The 5% of extra effort you make in your presentation represents 90% of your result. The eyes eat first.”


I can’t think of a time in business and during my start-ups that this hasn’t been relevant.


It is so fundamentally true of business and in fact any place where people meet, communicate and exchange interaction for the first time and form an impression. I believe this is broken down into a few things:

  1. Attire
  2. Posture
  3. Articulation of thoughts to speech
  4. Listening

During any face-to-face communication only 7% of it is words, 38% is audible non verbal communication such as tone, stress and pitch and a huge 55% is body language, posture and facial expressions (especially the eyes).


Does it matter that your collar isn’t ironed in the morning – yes! Does it count for anything that my trousers look like I’ve worn them for a week – yes! Will anyone care if I use the wall to lean on during a conversation or sit with my arm over the back of my chair when they are engaging with me – yes!


They may never tell you, and you may never get the feedback, however they are thinking and making an overall judgment of you.


No matter how new your great start-up company is, or how many new years you have been growing and building, this first impression you make can literally determine how successful you are perceived to be to the outside world.


Dressing smartly to suit your business and personal brand is very inexpensive. Tidy, clean attire is very affordable. Clean shoes and a welcoming smile, standing up straight and with your shoulders back costs you nothing, however the ROI can be enormous.


Speaking with clarity, articulation and with clear messages, as well as active listening in equal quantities makes a very good impression; that you have sound communication skills.


I take the approach that every single person I meet for the first time will walk away with an impression of me. I have one shot at this, so I represent my own personal brand as much as I do the business brand.


Job Capital has a sharp, clear and easy to recognise brand. I would consider that I do personally too. I stand firmly alongside my business brand, and so to in representing myself as a leader, in my first impression.


Does all this sound very basic? It really is, however I am flabbergasted by the number of people I meet who just don’t make that extra 5% effort to get the 90% upside.


Oh, and my teammate and I won the Master Chef event for the evening – we had the best presentation!


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