First impressions don’t just count, they’re critical. A recent article by Business Insider looked at studies about how people responded to subliminal smiley or sad faces, before being shown unfamiliar Chinese characters and unsurprisingly, the effects were pretty consistent – people like smiley faces! This not-at-all-obvious conclusion does actually go a little further and they also found that in job interviews, first impressions can be a serious variable when it comes to selection time.

So, this is not really anything particularly new, but what can we do about it? The article makes a few suggestions, from a firm handshake (which we entirely agree with), to offering a cheeseburger (which we think might be a tad odd in an interview). The rest of the suggestions are a little on the obvious side, so we decided to conduct our own investigation to see if there are some tips we can provide – not just for interviews, but any kind of meeting.

First up, confidence. Yep, it’s the oldest one in the book, but that’s for a very good reason. So, even if you’re not 100% sure about the answer to “what percentage conversions did you get on that project?”, be convincing about your reply. You could even marry some of this bravado to a little honesty, with the always convincing: “I can’t remember the specifics, but I know it was a great success, and therefore over 80%.”

That brings us to number two on our list… statistics. People love them. Go into any given situation with at least three great stats and find a way to incorporate them into the conversation. Come on, we know you can do it. And when it comes to reviewing a meeting, interview, or simply remembering someone, those stats will rear their little heads up like the metaphorical Meerkat.

Finally, this is a little trick we think you’ll love, courtesy of Japanese friends from, well, Japan. It all revolves around business cards. Nothing says “I couldn’t give a hoot” like taking a business card and sticking it straight in your pocket. The Japanese receive the card with both hands. This might be a bit of overkill, so take it with one, but hold it in front of you and look intently at the card. Look at person and refer to them by name by again looking at the card. This shows care and interest and they’ll love it.

But before we leave you, here’s the pièce de résistance and works best when you’re meeting more than one person. Take each business card and lay them out in front of you, according to the seating. When you speak to each person, occasionally touch their card or move it forwards a little. It will blow their minds! It also helps you remember who is who and it’s guaranteed to make an impression. A great (first) impression. You’re welcome.