Standing out creates opportunities.
We all know that first impressions make an impact.
Within a few seconds, people form an opinion about us – that often sticks – and that initial impression can be hard to shake.
When we’re in a room with a group of people, whether it’s a small gathering or a large crowd, certain people stand out more than others. They’ll go away that day being remembered by many people.
Get it right and you can open a lot of doors. Every time you go out meeting people, you could be opening up career opportunities, generating leads for your business, or achieving other goals you care about.
What gets in the way of standing out?
There are lots of guides out there on how to make a great first impression and stand out. Much of this advice centres around changing yourself to make the right impression and I don’t recommend this for lots of reasons.
Changing yourself just to impress others feels uncomfortable and, when you do this, it can impact your confidence.
Such an act can also be hard to sustain. It’s distracting and can make it tricky to bring your best game. And, fakery can impact trust longer term.
I remember attending an event many years ago where two politicians were the VIPs. They’d clearly had well-intended but unhelpful guidance on what body language would help them look the most powerful and access to what words would make them sound the best according to market research.
The result was that both of them looked, sounded and acted exactly the same. It was like they were pre-programmed robots. As the cameras were clicking away, attendees nodded politely and shook their hands. They probably got feedback that it was a successful event.
But, from where I was standing, I could hear the whispers at the back of the room. Whispers that people wondered what was wrong with them. Why were they acting so strangely. Why couldn’t they just be real? Why couldn’t they just be honest and say what they really felt? Why were they putting on an act?
Yet, I’ve seen it done so differently. I’ve seen CEOs sit down for a genuine conversation and command a room because they’re coming from a place of authenticity. They’re genuinely curious to learn about others and to share stories they think will be of value to them. They stand out for the right reasons. And, people go away knowing that leader better, liking and trusting them more.
People pleasing is another problem that gets in the way of standing out.
I’ve seen some people trying to be lots of different things to lots of different audiences at lots of different events and communities, leading to confusion as to who they are and what they’re about. This again impacts trust and confidence in them and their abilities.
The good news is, there’s a better way.
Standing out by being more original.
The first stage to standing out in your own, original way starts with knowing there are great things about you already.
As we always say on the Origineurs podcast, what make you original is your unique blend personality, skills, experiences and values combined with your passions, ideas and desire to make it happen.
So, finding the ultimate way to stand out as you begins with getting focused.
Ask yourself three simple questions…
- What three words describe the best of you?
- What three things do you care about the most?
- What one thing do you want to be known for above everything else?
This doesn’t mean that you can’t talk about other things when you’re out and about but it helps you focus your discussions so you can stand out for something above all.
Four things people notice.
The next stage involves gaining awareness around the four things that people notice when they meet you. These are the four things they form an impressions around, almost automatically. And these are the four things that you can influence.
1. How you look.
Most people only focus on how they look when it comes to making a first impression.
It’s the focus of first dates for instance, with lots of time spent getting hair, make-up and their outfit just right.
Outside of that, we’ll also think of other physical markers about ourselves such as the cars we drive, the homes we buy and the holiday snaps we share on social media. Because we know they create an impression.
When it comes to meeting people, though, what matters most is not other people’s expectations or what the fashion is. What matters is how do you want to come across? How do you want to be seen?
For instance, do you want to look serious and professional? Or creative and original? Or vibrant? Create your look around your personality, your passions and your values.
2. How you sound.
Vocal impressions are often underrated and so too few people spend enough time working on this. Yet it makes a huge difference to the impact you make.
I’ve seen so many talented people miss out on promotions and great business opportunities to others who have spent time mastering their communication skills so they can win the confidence of the room.
So, spend time on your communication skills.
Think through the messages you want to get across and be focused so that you can influence the people around you. Leave them with no doubt around what you’re about and what you’d like them to do next.
3. How you move.
Your body language is often underrated too.
There’s a reason detectives study it when interviewing suspects. It’s because it gives a lot a way. And, we all have an ability to naturally pick up the subtle clues.
If you don’t believe what you’re telling people, your body will be telling them. If you don’t have confidence in yourself, your body will give you away.
So, if you want to stand out in the room, work on your mindset before you step in there. What do you need to believe?
And, don’t be small once you’re in there. Taking up more room with your body and gesture more often – without exaggerating of course. This demonstrates confidence.
It can feel unnatural at first because – at school – we’re trained to sit still for long periods and the mind, mouth, body connection becomes disrupted. Practice reconnecting it in your everyday speech and it will come more naturally in other contexts.
4. How you interact.
People notice who looks up to who, who listens to who, who queues up to hear who and so on. We like social clues as to where to pay attention as it can be helpful.
But people notice more than that.
They’ll notice if you pay attention when they’re talking and show that you’re listening. Listening is one of the most undervalued communication skills yet it’s one of the most valuable and important.
People will also notice if you treat others with respect. They’ll notice if you demonstrate compassion and humanity.
All these things are a reflection of your personal values. That’s why they can’t be faked. People will quickly see through false acts if they’re not genuine as our personal values are powerful drivers and will come shining through in the end.
So, always act in alignment with your values so you’ll stand out for who you truly are.
Be proud to be originally you.
As you can see, standing out in the room involves more than being loud or faking it. That might get you attention but might not create the impression you desire.
Spend time thinking about why you want to stand out and what for. Being focused and consistent is the trick to getting known over time. And, people are attracted to people they come to know, like and trust.
So, be proud to be original and to stand out as you.
Soon, you’ll have built your crowd.
- When it comes to making a strong impression and standing out, don’t be tempted to follow advice to change yourself to please others as it will diminish confidence, distract you and impact trust. Instead, embrace your originality and build on what’s best about you.
- Focus is so important if you want to stand out. Get clear on what you’re about and what you want to be known for so you can direct your discussions in a meaningful way. You want people going away clear on what you want them to know and do.
- There are four areas to focus on to create the impression you desire. How you look, how you sound, how you move and how you interact. Make sure all of this is a reflection of who you truly are so you build a crowd that knows, likes and trusts you.