We are often asked by young folks, “What’s the best way to present myself?” They want to know how to stack the odds in their favor at presentations, business meetings, and interviews. They look to us as managers, employers, and sales professionals to share our experiences in setting the stage to get to “Yes.”

We always start any business recommendation with, “Put yourself in the other person’s shoes.”Whether it’s a buyer, employer, or attendees at a business meeting, they are all people first. They have at least two important factors in common that influence their judgment.

First, they all want attention. So give them your undivided attention. Important meetings are best done in person. Text may be a great way to set up the meeting or advise of your status. Email is a great way to memorialize what was said and list the follow-ups. Phone calls are a great way to solve problems and clarify misunderstandings. But that first meeting should be face to face. If you can’t be there in person, you can use a video platform such as Skype or AppearIn.

Second, people are wired to make quick judgments about others. You, your intentions, and even your message will be judged even before you open your mouth. As unfair as it sounds, you are initially judged on your appearance. Everything you say thereafter is highly prejudiced by that first impression. So it’s critical that you put your best foot forward by dressing for success, and by visually communicating the kind of person they want to do business with.

Your appearance and body language can positively (or negatively) influence other’s reception to your message. Here are some tips that work well for us and that we have seen others use effectively to make that first, positive impression:

  1. Dress

As overused as it sounds, “Dress for Success” is still the best policy. It speaks volumes about your choices. Don’t dress flashy or like you’re trying to get attention. Dress neat, clean, wrinkle free, and professional.

  1. Smile

Even before they see you, take a few deep breaths and imagine how happy they will be with what you have to offer. Smile with the understanding that you will put them at ease and improve their situation.

  1. Walk

Walk in with confidence, poise, and energy. Pick up your feet. Don’t shuffle or look down. Look where you’re going. Demonstrate purpose, balance, and determination.

  1. Stand

Stand up straight. Look more like an exclamation point and less like a question mark. Step forward while extending your hand to shake theirs. Stand close enough for communication but far enough away to give them some space.

  1. Sit

Sit down gracefully. Move smoothly with poise and dignity. Don’t flop into the chair and don’t slouch. Keep your back straight, shoulders back, and head up.

  1. Look

Make direct eye contact with the speaker. Look directly at the person to whom you are speaking. Don’t look down, up in the air, or a way in any fashion. Lean forward slightly to show interest in what is being said.

  1. Hands

Keep your hands on your lap when listening. Don’t touch your face or rest on your elbows. Use your hands for emphasis when you are speaking. Keep your palms up as much as possible. Don’t cross your arms. Put your shoulders back in an open and receptive posture.

Save this short checklist as a reminder and review it before your next meeting. You will be pleasantly surprised at the results. These are the visual messages we are all communicating every day. By themselves, they won’t guarantee a “yes” but you will be less likely to get a “no” from the get go.

Good luck at your next meeting!

Who We Are

Michael Houlihan and Bonnie Harvey Barefoot Wine Founders

Michael Houlihan and Bonnie Harvey co-authored the New York Times bestselling business book, The Barefoot Spirit: How Hardship, Hustle, and Heart Built America’s #1 Wine Brand. The book has been selected as recommended reading in the CEO Library for CEO Forum, the C-Suite Book Club, and numerous university classes on business and entrepreneurship. It chronicles their humble beginnings from the laundry room of a rented Sonoma County farmhouse to the board room of E&J Gallo, who ultimately acquired their brand and engaged them as brand consultants. Barefoot is now the world’s largest wine brand.

Beginning with virtually no money and no wine industry experience, they employed innovative ideas to overcome obstacles, create new markets and forge strategic alliances. They pioneered Worthy Cause Marketing and performance-based compensation. They built an internationally bestselling brand and received their industry’s “Hot Brand” award for several consecutive years.

They offer their Guiding Principles for Success (GPS) to help entrepreneurs become successful. Their book, The Entrepreneurial Culture: 23 Ways To Engage and Empower Your People, helps corporations maximize the value of their human resources.

Currently they travel the world leading workshops, trainings, & keynoting at business schools, corporations, conferences. They are regular media guests and contributors to international publications and professional journals. They are C-Suite Network Advisors & Contributing Editors. Visit their popular brand building site at www.consumerbrandbuilders.com.

To make inquiries for keynote speaking, trainings or consulting, please contact sales@thebarefootspirit.com.