Being able to make a FLUENT first impression doesn’t have to be as hard as you think. The beauty of first impressions is that we already know 3 things that are going to happen in the conversation, a greeting/hello, an introduction and a goodbye/farewell. If you can memorize and even script these 3 situations, then you bound to make a fluent first impression every time.
For me, learning to speak Portuguese has been a difficult journey, and very intimidating when meeting new people. At the beginning I always worried about making a mistake during an introduction, offending someone or making a bad first impression in general.
About 4 months into my learning experience, I decided to learn and memorize every possible greeting, introduction and goodbye I could think of. Suddenly I felt invincible and a lot more natural when meeting new people. My Portuguese didn’t sound so robotic, and surprisingly enough I was just saying the same words in the same situations over and over again. From my fluent first impressions, people were complimenting me on how natural my Portuguese was, even though I had only greeted them, introduced myself and used a few ice breaking techniques.
Using these techniques of having a fluent first impression, made me feel more confident and relaxed when speaking and it pushed me to work harder on improving my fluency in all areas of the language.
In this article you are going to learn how to make a FLUENT first impression in English based on these 3 most important aspects you’re going to be faced with every time, greetings/hellos, introductions/ ice breakers and goodbyes.
As most of you have probably learnt, the most commonly taught way to greet someone is
-“Hi, How are you?”
-“Fine thanks, and you?”
-“Good, thanks for asking.”
This phrase is 100% correct, and probably used 100% of the time by English learners. But doesn’t that get a little boring after a while? If you want to diversify your greetings a little bit, and make it sound more fluent, leave those text books in the classroom, there is another way. How does this sound.
That sounds a lot more natural right? So, what does UP TO mean?
The expression up to is a synonym of do. We use this in spoken English because as it’s more of an informal expression. When I greet someone with the question “what have you been up to?” I am asking them what have they been DOING recently.
The question is in the present perfect continuous so you will answer with the verb in the continuous. For example:
- “Hey mate, what have you been up to?”
“Ah, the same old, studying, surfing, going out, having some drinks with friends.”
- “Have you been playing guitar?”
- “yeah I’ve been playing a few times a week.”
- “You been watching the football?”
- “Nah, I don’t really like watching football.”
You’ll notice that’s its very common for a native speaker to use the present perfect continuous like this when greeting a buddy. When a person greets me this way the conversation seems to flow a lot more, and it allows us to summarize all the recent news very quickly and concisely.
To learn more about how to greet someone in English, have a look at one of our previous articles here.
Introductions/ Ice breakers
When introducing yourself in another language people are always going to want to know the same information, trust me, being a Gringo in Brazil I’ve had to introduce myself more times that I can remember.
-What’s your name? (you’re probably going to have to repeat it a couple of times or make it sound more English)
-Where are you from? (be prepared to describe you city geographically)
-What are you doing here? (People are always curious)
Another good way to make a good first impression is to get that person talking about themselves or their city. This can be done during the introduction phase as a way of breaking the ice.
- So, where are you from?
- Is your family from here/there?
- What did you think of the soccer last night?
- What do you think of this place/the beer/the music here?
- Don’t you just hate waiting in line/this music/the noise?
The whole idea of these ice-breakers is to get the other person talking while you simply sit back and listen. Sure, your probably thinking that this is a very impersonal exercise, but the purpose of this is to give yourself more confidence when approaching people in English. After doing this enough times, you’ll see that it starts to become a very easy and natural process and in no time you’ll be expanding your fluent first impressions to fluent everything.
No matter what the language is, we always have to say goodbye. But don’t you want to know how to express yourself and show that you really appreciated that person’s company? Sometimes in a second language it’s a little hard to do that from the heart.
I really love saying goodbye to people in Portuguese, as bad as that sounds, because there are so many cool, friendly expressions. Some of these words don’t exist or they would never be used in English for example, “some nao” or the word “saudades.”There are other expressions you can use in English which may not have the same meaning, but can be used in an endearing way nonetheless. For example:
- It was really great to see you, catch you later.
- It has been a pleasure, we’ll speak soon.
- It was nice talking to ya, have a good one.
- Take care/ take it easy, see you soon.
- Keep in touch (when you don’t see the person very often)
- I’m looking forward to seeing you soon
- See you next time.
- May the force be with you. (Used by Star Wars nerds)
In all of these situations I’ve explained, I’ve given you a scripted scenario of what is most likely to happen. Think of it as if you were an actor performing in a play. Whether it’s an introduction, greeting or goodbye, we know what questions are going to be asked and with a little thought beforehand, you can really make yourself sound fluent and give a great first impression.
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