• Ivy L. James

How to Make an Amazing First Impression (8 Tips + Bonus!)

Updated: Jan 29

Hashtag charisma, my friends. Hashtag charisma.


We'll talk about these tips today:

  1. Stop saying you're "good."

  2. Touch them when you introduce yourself.

  3. Introduce yourself with an element of mystery.

  4. Laugh at other people's jokes and riff off them.

  5. Repeat the last few words of what they said.

  6. Use affirmative words.

  7. Find the humor in life.

  8. Ask WHY and FEELING questions.

  9. A bonus surprise!


1. Stop saying you're "good."

"How are you?" "Fine/Good." Instant conversational death.


Be better than good. Be delightful! Awesome! Phenomenal!

Not only will this frame you as a positive, upbeat person, but it'll help you genuinely feel more positive. It's almost impossible to respond to this basic question in a fun way and be a Debbie Downer.


2. Touch them when you introduce yourself.

A little touch goes a long way. People are built to bond over touch.


Shake hands. High five. Touch their arm or shoulder. You can hug if you're an established hugger and they're open to it.


Just don't be weird. As soon as you make it weird, everyone is uncomfortable.


Note: With the 'Rona, touching strangers is not recommended. As an alternative, you can boldly say "air high five!" or "air hug!" and mime it. The boldness is key so the other person doesn't waver.


3. Introduce yourself with an element of mystery.

Yes, mystery. WooOOOooo.


Example: Say someone asks me where I'm from. I might say Ohio, or I might make it more interesting by calling it The World's Largest Cornfield. Oh, the mystery! Which cornfield is it?


You can also be intentionally vague to allow them room to ask a follow-up question. You don't need to give blow-by-blow answers.


All this to say, you don't have to answer people's questions in a straightforward way. Make it interesting!


4. Laugh at other people's jokes and riff off them.

People like to feel funny and heard. If someone makes a joke, smile and laugh at it. This is especially meaningful if no one else heard them.

You can also take their joke a step further.


Example: If someone makes a comment about the economy of the Tooth Fairy, you might riff off that by joking about the barter system, the currency, etc.


And please, for the love of God, don't laugh AT people. No one wants to be the butt of a joke.


If you tease someone, be lighthearted and make it a compliment. Tease them about something they're actually confident in or something nice about them. If the punchline is that they're awesome, no one's feelings get hurt.


5. Repeat the last few words of what they said.

Let me repeat: people like to feel heard. People also like mirroring.


You can use the repeated words as emphatic agreement, an exclamation, or a question.


Example: Someone says, "I can't believe aliens kidnapped the president!" You might repeat, "I can't believe it!" or "Aliens kidnapped the president?"


The bonus is that by repeating part of what that person said, you give yourself a few extra seconds to come up with what you'll say next.


6. Use affirmative words.

Encourage people who are talking to you by using affirmative words. "Damn, you right. You right as hell." (Maybe not that phrasing exactly.)


Yes! Exactly! Definitely! That's true! You're so right!


You're validating the other person's thought and being an active listener.

Take the supportive role. Highlight someone else (in a non-suck-up way) as being correct, funny, talented, or anything else positive. It'll be okay. Promise.


7. Find the humor in life.

Smile and laugh freely! You don't need to restrain yourself from smiling and laughing, even if you're laughing at yourself.


Worried because everyone else seems serious? Don't be. You being lighthearted will encourage others around you not to take themselves too seriously either. Obviously, take into account the situation (e.g., funerals); but on the whole, even at work events where everyone wants to impress the others, people welcome some cheer.


Don't just fake it. We know when someone is faking a smile. Genuinely look for humor in the conversation and in the world around you.


8. Ask WHY and FEELING questions.

Yes/no and other short-answer questions are a one-way ticket to Snoozeville in conversation. To make the convo more interesting and the answers more in-depth, ask why the person [fill in the blank].


This isn't intended to be "and how do you FEEL about that?" ... but it kind of is, at the same time. You're eliciting emotions, not requesting dry factoids.


  • "How do you feel about X?"

  • "Why do you X?"

  • "What made you decide to X?"

  • "What's your favorite part about X?"

Example: Instead of asking "How long have you been a writer?" you might ask "What made you become a writer?" or "How do you feel about your journey as a writer?" It instantly makes the topic more interesting and more personal for both of you. Win win.


Plus, when you talk about things they like or their favorite part of whatever, they'll associate those positive feelings with you. Nice!


9. Bonus: Ask about their pets or kids.

Everyone loves to talk about their little creatures.


Ask about their pets/kids, and then go, "Oh, nice! Do you have any pictures?"


Spoiler alert: they have pictures.


There are pretty much infinite things to talk about re: the little bitties. How old are they? For pets, when did you get them? What's the cutest thing they do? What's your favorite thing to do with them?


Milk this topic for all it's worth, my love.


TL;DR

These are our tips for making a fabulous first impression:

  1. Stop saying you're "good." Use more exciting words!

  2. Touch them (or air high-five) when you introduce yourself.

  3. Introduce yourself with an element of mystery.

  4. Laugh at other people's jokes and riff off them.

  5. Repeat the last few words of what they said.

  6. Use affirmative words.

  7. Smile and laugh freely.

  8. Ask WHY and FEELING questions.

  9. Bonus: Ask about their pets or kids.

This list isn't all-inclusive of the ways to make a fantastic first impression, but it's a good starting point.


Now go forth and interact with new strangers successfully!


I believe in you!

"Make the Yuletide Gay" is now available for preorder! You can then enter the pre-sale giveaway for an extended teaser and a chance at a $50 Amazon gift card!


For more writerly and adulty things, you can follow me on Facebook ("Author Ivy L. James"), Instagram (@authorivyljames), Twitter (@AuthorIvyLJames), and YouTube ("Author Ivy L. James")! I post about writing, writing romance specifically, adulting, my corgi Pippa Finn, and other fun things.


"Make the Yuletide Gay" is now out in the world! Add it to your TBR list on Goodreads. Read Chapter One for free: Chapter 1: “Good Sir, That's a Lotta Snow”!


You can buy "Make the Yuletide Gay" from NineStar Press or from your preferred digital store!


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