If a picture speaks a thousand words, then what words will they speak of you? 
 
This age-old question formed the backdrop of my one hour grooming talk for Manulife Singapore today. Organised as part of the staff learning day, it was great to see the staff of this insurance giant gather in the training room to pick up valuable learning grooming tips.
 
Fret not if you were not present as let me share the 5 tips to create a positive first impression.

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Tip No. 1: It Takes 0.1 Seconds To Create A First Impression
 
Many people believe that it takes 3 seconds or even 5 seconds to create a first impression. They cannot be more wrong. 
 
Princeton psychologists have revealed after a battery of experiments that it takes 0.1 seconds to create that first impression. Love it or loathe it, now you know why some dates don’t last very long. If you can’t stand the other person’s face, do you think you will force yourself to stay a minute longer? 
 
As I did share before in my earlier blogs, first impressions, albeit short, are crucial as they are stored in the deeper recesses of our subconscious. You may not recall a person’s name. But you certainly can trigger that image almost instantly.
 

Tip No. 2: Your Self-Image Is Your Trump Card
 
Like it or not, you are your own brand. Your self-image that you create in the minds (and may I add hearts) of others is your passport to success or mediocrity in life. 
 
If you project a positive self-image, people will be more likely to see you as a positive, dependable and confident person. On the other hand, if you project a negative self-image, others will view you as dejected, untrustworthy and worse, a parasite!
 
The fastest and easiest way to project a positive self-image is through your body posture. The “chest out stomach in” reminder we have heard since the younger days is not without its merit. When I stand straight, I am standing tall. A confident stance conveys wonders. Try it today!
 
 
Tip No. 3: Work on Your Body Language
 
Communication comprises the verbal and non-verbal. Let me call the non-verbal your body language. It is interesting that your body language speaks volumes more than your words. Sometimes, words can be superfluous in themselves. So speak less and work on your body language.
 
The holy trinity in body language includes your smile, eye contact and handshake. There’s no escaping the friendly smile, inviting eye contact and firm handshake. 
 
I am not a Westerner. I am an Asian. As an Asian, I don’t openly embrace nor peck others on the cheeks. I rely on my handshake, smile and eye contact to convey my thoughts and emotions. 

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Tip No. 4: Remember That Less is More
 
I always tell my participants that less is more. Unless you want to be mistaken as a walking Christmas tree, do not wear more than 8 pieces of accessories on you. 
 
Accessories include anything ranging from spectacles, necklaces, rings to belts, hairbands and watches. So start counting…1, 2, 3…
 
In order to really stand out from the crowd, I prefer to wear a statement piece. A statement piece is THAT one piece that wows the audience and draws their attention. Think of it like your heirloom. How many heirlooms can you have? It’s just one and only one. So you can wear a simply dress but accessorize yourself with a statement necklace piece. Got it?

 
Tip No. 5: Dress Appropriately For The Occasion According To The Dress Code
 
Nothing can be more embarrassing than not dressing appropriately for the occasion. Every occasion demands a certain type of dress code. If you are unsure, always do your homework by asking a certified image consultant for advice.
 
For those who are still clueless, the most common dress codes will include formal, executive, smart casual and casual. 
 
Formal means suit and tie for guys; and an evening dress for ladies. Executive means long-sleeved shirt and pants for guys; and blouse-skirt combo or dress or jacket for ladies. Smart casual dictates no jeans. Strictly no jeans. Casual means anything goes, as long as you feel comfortable.
 
Dressing is an art. It is not a science. There are no hard and fast rules to follow. If you really would like one, then my advice would be to work on your first impression. Make it right the first time and every time!

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We are honoured to partner NUS High School of Mathematics and Science again this year for the dining etiquette workshop. Since the successful run last year, we have all been looking forward to a new batch of graduating students and a brand new menu.

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In today’s context, dining is more than just the food. It is the entire package that matters. Think ambience, dressing up, food presentation, company around the same table, silverware finesse, small talk and much more. Thus no efforts were spared to make tonight’s dining etiquette workshop a resounding success so as to give the students an experience they will always remember.
 
Welcoming the students at 6pm, the ballroom was soon filled with 19 tables of students, many of whom were dressed up for tonight’s special dinner. It was a delight to see the guys sit the ladies down at the tables. Naturally excited as many would be, there was banter around the tables and considerable movements too as students from different classes were all eager to take selfies and photos with one another.
 
Before dinner commenced officially, I shared some simple, yet effective tips on how each could impress at the dining table. Whether it is business or a simple gathering, learning how to bring out the best in each and every one of us is dependent on us having the right attitude, dining etiquette and proper table manners. This is the holy trinity of successful dining skills. 

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Much as we know a lot of effort was put in the chef in preparing the delectable three-course dinner meal for tonight’s dining etiquette workshop, so too must we do our utmost best in being good guests who genuinely enjoy one another’s company, relish in the communication and soak in the grand ambience.
 
Enter the appetizer – a generous serving of mixed garden greens. Trust me – there’s something healthy behind this bowl of mixed garden greens, especially when it’s fresh and void of dressing. 
 
This was followed by the entrée. The students were given the option to choose between oven baked chicken roulade or pan fried barramundi fish with lemon butter. It was indeed a difficult choice to choose as both were indeed heavenly. 

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In between the different meal courses, I decided to spice things up by including a Best Dressed segment – an initiative brought over from last year owing to overwhelming positive response. To up the standards this year, I brought along a professional photograph who gave each Best Dressed nominee and thereafter Best Dressed couple nominee a photoshoot. Initially shy, the nominees all warmed up slowly and gamely played on.

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And before dessert was served, the Best Dressed competition commenced. Amid the cheers and claps of encouragement, the couples marched in on the red carpet. A sight to behold, they took pains to pose and this sent the ballroom into a frenzy as each class attempted to outdo the rest. On stage to pitch for why the entire NUS High cohort should vote for them as Best Dressed Guy or Best Dressed Girl, I gave each student air-time. From their short presentation, I really marvel at their intelligence, wittiness and creativity…some of which had the entire cohort in laughter stitches.
 
As the night lingered on, it was time to say adieu. Even after more photos (and at my insistence, a group photo for each class on stage) later, the students were still reluctant to leave. Who would want to? 
 
The teachers had to cajole and coax the students as the chartered buses were ready to ferry them back. Goodbye NUS High. Well done students. I really enjoyed myself being your trainer and emcee. And I look forward to receiving another batch of students next year.

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