Are the First Words You Utter a Total Turnoff?

“This is probably a stupid idea but…”

“I don’t mean to interrupt, but…”

“This may sound silly but…”

Have you ever been in a meeting and opened your comment with one of those phrases?  Steve Roesler of All Things Workplace talked about how we reduce our influence with just a few words.

Steve says “I’ve worked with literally hundreds of managers on their meetings and presentations over the years. Nothing makes me wince more than seeing someone who is confident in his material stand up and use words that undercut the power of the message.”

I’m embarrassed to say that I can remember using some of those same phrases when I was in the corporate world, especially when I was first promoted to Director of Operations.  I sat in a room of mostly men, all with VP after their name and although I had an opinion, I hesitated to contribute without opening with an apology.

Sadly, by leading with one of those self-deprecating phrases, I was allowing others in the room to discount my contribution even before I spoke.

The same can be said when presenting to a customer.  First impressions only happen once. 

 Have you used apologetic openings as a way of winning over the customer?  “This will just take a second…”  Steve says

“Whether you are standing up or seated at a conference table, people want you to lead with confidence. Not arrogance, but confidence. When you do something to apologize for your presence you diminish your presence.”

Our opening statement is our own “make or break moment” whether it is with a customer, in a meeting or with a new acquaintance. 

How can you make the most of the opportunity?

  1. Take a deep breath, slowly exhale before speaking
  2. Remember that you offer value – don’t apologize for being
  3. Think through your opening comment BEFORE you open your mouth
  4. Offer your opinion or opening statement with confidence and a smile

What tips have you used to make the most of a first impression moment?


p.s.  Thanks to Norma Rist who led me to Ann Handley who left a tweet leading me to Steve’s post.  Whew.  Talk about your roundabout journey.

Photo courtesy of Shaw University

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