Make a Lasting Impression
Estimated Lesson Time: 5 minutes (self-evaluated option) / less than a minute (instructor-evaluated option)
Throughout life, the average person meets thousands of people and is exposed to even more ideas, concepts, and beliefs. The content of conversation, or the words used to convey a message, quickly fade, but the impression remains.
An impression is an effect, feeling, or image retained as a consequence of experience. However, like a footprint in the sand at a beach, impressions eventually fade away; a lasting impression is one that does not. When we refer to making a lasting impression in terms of success, we are referring to a positive impression.
Those who know how to, and are capable of making lasting impressions on others, have a level of influence over others that is most useful in the pursuit of success. Consider the following situations:
- A contractor bidding for a job who makes a lasting impression on the client is more likely to get the job.
- An applicant going through the interview process who makes a lasting impression on the hiring manager is more likely to get selected for the position.
- A person who is courting another who makes a lasting impression on the other person is likely to gain the interest of that person.
- An employee of a large organization who makes a lasting impression on the right people is more likely to advance within the organization.
- A salesperson selling a similar product or service as other salespeople who makes a lasting impression on the prospect is more likely to sell that prospect his or her product.
- A business marketing a similar product or service as other businesses that makes a lasting impression on the market is more likely to have success marketing their product or service.
- A parent who makes a lasting impression on a child can change that child’s life for the better.
How can you make a lasting impression? Think back to your own experiences in life and think of the impressions that were made on you. What were the circumstances? If you carefully think about this, you will discover three key circumstances:
- Strong emotion. The stronger the emotion, the stronger the impression. It is easy for us to recall events in our lives where we were feeling strong emotion, either positive or negative. However, we generally cannot recall everyday events such as what we had for lunch last Tuesday (unless the meal was exceptionally good or exceptionally horrible).
To make a lasting impression on someone, get them to feel some kind of emotion. The anti-smoking commercials use ex-smokers with holes in their throats to get the public to feel fear. Beer commercials use half-naked people to make us feel good while seeing their product. Of course, your approach to getting others to feel strong emotion can be less gruesome and should certainly be less manipulative.
- Use of imagery. People remember best in pictures, not words. This is why the use of imagery is so important in both memory and creating a lasting impression. For example, one of the most effective techniques for remembering numbers is to convert the numbers into words, then convert the words into mental pictures. The more outrageous the imagery, the more memorable it becomes.
A great use of imagery is the use of dramatization. Effective communicators use this frequently in presentations, meetings, lectures, speeches, lessons, and in everyday conversation. For example, instead of just telling someone they are wasting money, take a handful of change and throw it in the garbage coin by coin (I would say burn a dollar bill but I think that’s illegal, and I do not want to promote illegal activities). At one of our spring conferences for our sales team, I presented a $1000 bonus to our top producer. The $1000 was in brand-new, crisp, $100 bills that I counted out one at a time with the help of the audience as I presented them to the winner.
- Differentiation. The law of contrast states that which is different or unique makes a greater impression than that which is ordinary. We notice the one light bulb that is burned out more than we notice all the light bulbs that are not. It is the unique and the different that makes a lasting impression.
Never be afraid to be different or take the road less traveled. Do not be afraid to do or say something others will not (diplomacy and tact take precedence here). Be creative and stand out from the crowd in a positive way.
The impression is what is left over when the words and details have faded. Practice leaving people with positive lasting impressions and when the time comes, they will remember you, your advice, and/or your product.
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Some discussion questions (some may not apply to this lesson):
- Have you implemented this idea in your life? How has it been working for you?
- Do you have any interesting stories related to this lesson? Do tell!
- What do you admire most about this person? (success biography days)