Do you get a second chance to make a first impression?

In any one day, we make a thousand observations about other people. Listen to a review of your mental tapes at the end of the day and you'll be amazed..."That was great the way he let the old lady get on the bus first...terrible shoes she is wearing... Interesting idea he just had..." All of these observations lead to snap judgements about character, moral choices or the urban tribe we think someone belongs to. The question is; once we have made the judgement, can it change? Imagine if the man who let the old lady get on the bus first pushes you out of the way to get to a seat? Feeling differently about him now?

It is a well worn piece of received wisdom that you never get a second chance to make a first impression. Maybe so but we do get the chance to make subsequent impressions.

How does this apply to public speaking? One of the main fears I have heard from students is that they somehow mess up their presentation and lose the audience. It is possible that you forget your words, the computer doesn't work or even that you trip as you get on to the platform (I have done all three, although not in the same evening thankfully!) What do you do? How do you redeem yourself?

Easy; audiences cringe when a speaker struggles but a speaker who can pick himself up and carry on is a speaker to be admired.

Forgot your words? Pause.. look at your notes.. pick up again.

Computer doesn't work? Explain the situation to the audience, use the notes you had the foresight to print out earlier and speak directly to listeners rather than hiding behind technology.

Tripped as you got onto the stage? Blame your high heels, smile, take a deep breath and begin.

Remember: once your have made a mistake, pause, collect yourself and take your chance to replace the bad impressions with good.


  1. Excellent advise for public speakers! On the Speaking of Wealth Show ( our host Jason Hartman interviews successful public speakers, authors and consultants who share with others in the industry how they can achieve the same wealth using strategic advice and speaking tips just like you're offering.

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