Every Speaker wants to draw as large an audience as possible, and I'm no exception. I love it when the room is filled with people. Still, a few years back when I approached a room in which I was scheduled to speak, I was surprised by the overflow crowd-there were at least as many people in the hallway as there were in the room.
I started by asking the audience why they were there. A very attractive young woman in the first row asked if I remembered Margie from the Chicago office inquiring whether the popularity sales skills I was teaching would work in a social setting. I explained that I speak to more than a hundred audiences a year, so I didn't remember Margie. Then she asked: Would practicing looking positive, upbeat, and pleasant make a woman more attractive to men? I said I was almost sure it would. She said, "That's what you told Margie, and that's why we're here."
I found out later that after I had given Margie that advice, she and half a dozen other single women in her company had decided to test my theory. They agreed to meet every Friday at lunch in one of the conference rooms to practice looking pleasant, friendly, and positive. After the first meeting, they decided it would be helpful to practice at home for a week before meeting again. The following Friday, each of them would role-play meeting three different men for the first time. The women critiqued one another's performances and made suggestions for improvement.
They ran these meetings once a week for six weeks before they had to stop. Word had leaked out of what they were doing, and dozens of women began showing up-far too many for such an intimate format to work well.
These meetings were based on a handout I used when training salespeople. I had knocked off the handout in a few hours when a salesperson told me he had forgotten exactly what he should practice at home after going to one of my training sessions.
The little handout proved very helpful. Some salespeople used it to practice, whereas others read it over before a major presentation. Most agreed it taught them how to make a good first impression.
The importance of making a positive first impression on anyone-potential client or potential mate-cannot be emphasized enough. When we asked men who had just gotten engaged what attracted them to their fiancées when they first met, most said it was how classy, positive, energetic, enthusiastic, and upbeat their future wives were. Over and over, we heard answers such as, "She was so vivacious," or "She was enthusiastic"-or "bubbly," or "friendly." "I was immediately attracted to her," many of them told us. Interestingly, while 68 percent gave some sort of physical description of the woman they were about to marry, only about 20 percent of those men described their future wives as gorgeous or sexy, whereas more than 60 percent described their personalities. That was what attracted most of them in the first place. Even men who were marrying very beautiful women were more likely to emphasize their fiancée's personality over her physical beauty. They typically said things such as:
"I took one look at her, and I knew she was the kind of person I wanted to be with."
"She was so well mannered."
"She was the kind of person any guy would be proud to be with."
"She was enthusiastic."
"She was so full of the joy of life."
"She seemed so at ease with the world."
"She was the kind of woman you could take anywhere and be proud."
"When she talked, I felt so good."
"I didn't know if we'd become lovers, but I was sure we'd be friends."
"It was a joy being around her."
"She was poised" (or energetic, decent, kind, articulate, clever, entertaining...).
I don't mean to understate the effect of physical beauty; there is no question it attracts men. But even when they first meet a woman, it's usually the woman's personality that makes her seem special. The words men used most often to describe their fiancées were classy, nice, friendly, kind, elegant, self-assured, poised, and so forth. As it happens, in most cases the men using these words were not themselves poised, elegant, self-assured, or classy. Nor were their fiancées, in reality.
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