Avoid First Impression Failure

First impressions are a big deal. First impression failure is an even bigger deal because they are difficult to overcome. Usually our first impressions stick like glue. Case in point was Mike Lindell’s interview on Jimmy Kimmel Live. I don’t think Mr. Lindell was given interview coaching (or at least not good interview coaching). When moving to a large audience platform like Jimmy Kimmel, it is important not to blow your first impression to a mostly new audience.

I know I am usually a proponent of more movement rather than less. However, Mike Lindell’s appearance on Jimmy Kimmel Live Wednesday night, April 28, 2021 was an example of when less would have been more. Mr. Lindell is also a great study in why it is important to understand what signals you give off to others and how they are perceived because he blew his first impression.

I’ve been asked to comment on popular figures more often lately. There are many pop culture websites cranking out comment. I did not go into watching Jimmy Kimmel with any preconceived notions of Mr. Lindell. I’d only seen him on My Pillow commercials and honestly, was rather ignorant of his Trump support status and voting machine litigation.

Here are the observations I sent into the media company*:

Mike Lindell’s appearance on Jimmy Kimmel Live Wednesday night was a study in distraction. This is a man who wants desperately to be a big shot the likes of former President Trump but has a real problem owning the platform he created.

Rather than leaning back, chin up with repetitive accordion hand gestures like Trump, Lindell leans forward, draws his shoulders in, clasps his hands together between his knees and rocks forward like an eager child. In general, he uses many, many gestures in a floppy way which distracts the viewer from his words. It is like a magician using slight of hand to keep you looking in one place while the trick is happening somewhere else. He pointed at Jimmy but it wasn’t very forceful if he intended to put Jimmy in his place.

He became increasingly uncomfortable during the interview and his toes were tapping to let out energy and nerves. It felt like he was uncomfortable in his own body.

Your mom was right when she told you to keep your fingers out of your mouth

Near the end of the interview, when Jimmy was drilling him on his knowledge of computers and the voting machines, he covered his mouth a few times which could indicate deceit. Perhaps he was covering up for being caught not knowing what he’s talking about. He also put his thumb against his top teeth during one of the few times he leaned back a bit and took on a slightly Trump-like, looking-down-his-nose at Jimmy. Was this a subtle and subconscious “F-you” moment? This also was near the part of the interview where he cut Jimmy off the most and talked over him as if he was channeling President Trump’s debate with President Biden.

“Why won’t they look at the evidence?” was the strongest moment of the night for Mike when he finally opened his arms wide with his palms up. The “winner” of the interview was clearly Jimmy Kimmel. The overuse of gestures and energy negates any credibility Lindell begins to gain.

You can check out my TikTok on Mike’s behavior.

What do we learn from this?

  1. Do not cover your mouth or put your fingers in it!
  2. If you use a lot of movements, make sure they are purposeful. There is a fine line between useful gestures and distraction. Gestures which support your words, strengthens your points. Too much movement- or movement which doesn’t support your words- undermines your authority and intelligence.
  3. Know your baseline. Everyone needs awareness of what they do. We all have small habits which can be distracting or weaken our persuasiveness.

What can we do?

  1. Record your zoom meetings and watch them. I KNOW this is difficult and no one likes to watch themselves on film, but it is eye-opening.
  2. Have a First Impression Session with Moving Image Consulting to better understand how you come across. (Go to the contact page and send us a message to get a time.)
  3. Work with a body language coach who can observe what you do and help you mitigate the quirks and enhance your presence. The positive impact is truly astounding. (It is possible to change you habits over time. It’s no different than eating better or regular exercise. It takes a bit of persistence and the right knowledge from the experts.)

If you want to check your first impression and make sure you avoid first impression failure with new people you meet, please contact Moving Image Consulting.

*The opinions on this blog are meant for educational purposes only and are the sole observations of Alison Henderson.