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First Impressions Count, But Last Impressions Count More

Clearly ‘first impressions count’, but in the long term ‘last impressions’ are more important.

Most people understand the importance of making a powerful first impression when delivering a pitch of your business idea because it can set the tone for the pitch from there on. There are countless studies that show that people form their impression of you within the first seven seconds and if you make a serious mistake in the opening phase, you may find it hard to change the client’s first impression.

The good news is you do not have to be a total hostage to the first impression counts phenomena, as you have a second chance to make a stronger and longer lasting impression at the end of the pitch. It is no coincidence that lawyers spend an incredible amount of time crafting a powerful and persuasive closing statement at the end of the trial because they know it will have an extremely influential effect on the jury.

A study by Luchins (1964) showed that the information presented last was more influential than the information presented at the beginning. In this study, participants read two versions of the same description of a fictitious person named ‘Jim’. In one version, Jim’s good attributes were listed first and his not-so-good ones listed last. In the other version, these personal descriptions were reversed. The study showed that in the short term what you present first is important (the primary effect), but after a period of time, it is what you presented last that is most important (the recency effect). Clearly ‘first impressions count’, but in the long term ‘last impressions’ are more important.  

One of the best ways to make a strong, final impression at the pitch is to deliver a powerful closing statement, designed to highlight your business idea as the best fit for the client. Ideally, your closing statement would be delivered just before you leave, when the client asks if you have anything else to say. This means that you can be sure it will really be the closing statement and will be foremost in the mind of the clients.

Having secured the stage for your closing statement, your statements should ideally take the following format:

Initially, start by bullet pointing the main reasons your idea is the best fit for the client’s needs, and show why it is uniquely appealing to you. For example:

This opportunity is the exact challenge that our company has been seeking for some time now because it allows us to combine our rich experience, creative genius, and international network for your product launch.

And then show them how your qualities can address their top priority issues as uncovered during the meeting. For example:

You made it clear that your top priorities are to bring a greater customer focus and international reach to the operation. I am confident that our presence in nine different countries could localise the marketing strategies so we are perfectly poised to meet your top priorities.

Make sure to trigger the visualization and decision making processes by saying something like, “What will be the next step in the selection process?” and/or “When would I hear back if we are successful?”

Finally, you don’t want to leave a lasting impression of being a dud, so be expeditious to close out your side of the meeting by thanking them for taking the time to see you. When prompted, leave the room in a confident and optimistic manner to make the best possible final impression of someone with purposeful intent.

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Written By

Lending from his background in travel and hospitality, Jason helped the world's top airlines shape their culture to deliver exceptional customer experience. He facilitates organisations to adopt new mindsets, embrace change, and develop soft skill capabilities for leadership and influence. Follow him on LinkedIn and website.

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