A few weeks ago I participated in a “style workshop” that covered the basics of making a great first impression with what we wear. Contrary to the popular notion that people form an impression of us within seven seconds of meeting us, the presenter told us that people we meet form an impression of us instantly. Whether it’s the clothes we wear or our handshake, posture or eye contact (or lack thereof), she said it happens in the blink of an eye.
As we went through how to present our best selves through what we wear, she analyzed our body “type” and helped us understand the colors that look best on us. She demonstrated several different “looks” that we should consider and described other ways to ensure that — at least as far as what we choose to wear — we make the best impression possible.
Words are the same as the clothes we wear, in that they play a prominent role in first impressions. What we say matters, regardless of whether it’s in a phone conversation with a potential client, through website content, or in presentations before a large audience. Are you long-winded and self-absorbed in the words you use in an interview with a potential employer? You won’t get the job. Are you focused on what the products you offer and services you provide — and not on what a potential customer needs? You won’t close the deal.
Words are like clothes.
If you send emails to potential customers and they contain typographical errors or they meander and don’t have a clear call to action, your readers will lose interest. If your website contains poorly written sections and pages that are merely a couple of photos and no compelling content, people will hop on to a competitor’s website.
“Tell your stories. Frame them well.”
That used to be a tagline I had on my business cards, but it was a bit too obtuse; people didn’t understand what I meant, so I dropped it. What I intended to convey in that tagline was, “Tell your stories and write them well.” Sometimes stories don’t even need to be beautifully written. They just need to be grammatically correct and descriptive — and they need to convince your audience that you are sincere, trustworthy, and reliable.
Yes, I know this website needs a tune-up!
I’m sure some people would say, “Who are you to tell us how to write? Your website is dated and not functional!” That’s true. I admit it. But re-doing a website so it contains all the latest graphics, video and functionality is a lot harder and more time-consuming to pull off that writing a great email or a compelling blog post. The next version of this site will contain content that is “tighter and righter” — not so much fluff and more real-life examples of how I help people present their best selves through the written word. Need help? Shoot me an email for a quote: firstname.lastname@example.org.
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