How to make meetings a success before they even start

By Henry Brown

Making a good impression in the first meeting with a client is always difficult. It goes without saying that the way you conduct yourself, your body language and of course the actual content of the meeting itself are important. But what you probably didn’t realize is that half of that first impression is already made before you’ve even said one word. Even if you conduct the rest of the meeting perfectly, if you don’t get those initial details right, you could miss out on some good opportunities. Here’s how to make a good first impression before the meeting even starts.


When you’re setting up the meeting in the first place you’re probably organizing it through email. The way that you write an email says a lot about you. If you get it wrong, they’ll already have a slightly negative view of you before you arrive. Always begin with a greeting, in a professional setting it should begin ‘Dear’ and always use their surname; you’re business associates, not best friends. You can be less formal and go with a more casual “Hi” greeting once you get to know them better. After that, thank them for agreeing to meet with you and offer the time that is most convenient for you. Then close with a formal sign off. Don’t try to be chatty with them at this stage, the relationship needs to remain professional.

Arrive on time

Punctuality is vital; if you turn up late it’s not going to look good and they’ll probably decide that they don’t want to work with you, regardless of what happens. They won’t take any excuses either; offering them just makes you look even worse. If you’re unfamiliar with the area where the meeting is to be held, consider driving down to the place the day before just to make sure you definitely know where it is. On the day of the meeting, leave extra early to account for any trouble along the way.

Your car

The kind of car you drive says a lot about you. An old rust bucket suggests that you aren’t even making enough to fix your car up, so why would they want to work with you? You should also give it a good clean with a diesel pressure washer as well. A dirty car makes you look careless and tells them you’re not into details and aren’t really that bothered about this meeting. Turning up in a nice, clean car shows them that you’re doing well and you’re putting effort into the meeting.

Your clothes

If you manage to get all of those other things right, you could ruin it all by not dressing properly. Turning up in scruffy clothes gives a terrible first impression, but even if your clothes are clean and neat, wearing the wrong type of clothes can hurt your chances. You need to gauge the tone of the company you’re having the meeting at and dress accordingly. For example, if you’re meeting with a modern tech company, you might want to go for something more casual. But if it’s the type of company where suits are likely to be the norm, you’ll want to follow that example when selecting your clothing.

All of these small details add up to a first impression before you even get through the door, so don’t underestimate them.


Henry Brown is an online marketing executive. When he isn’t talking shop he’s roaming the streets of London, uncovering the extra-ordinary in the ordinary.

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