5 Ways to make a great first impression on your online classmates

Student waving at her laptop

Since the pandemic started, online meetings have become part of the new normal, especially with millions of students around the world attending virtual classes. Despite these changes, research suggests that online or blended academic programs will actually increase in relevancy in the future.

Video conferencing tools have become the reality of life, such as Google Meet, MS Teams, Facebook and Instagram messenger, Telegram, among others. That said, it’s best to learn how to adjust to this way of meeting new people, rather than interacting with them in person.

It may take a bit of getting used to, as social norms for virtual communications are a little different from that of face-to-face interactions. You might have to put in more effort to make a good first impression on your classmates when you meet them online. Read ahead to explore the importance of first impressions and how to make a good first impression.

Why should I focus on creating an excellent first impression on my online classmates?

You will be growing, learning and working with your classmates throughout your program. You may even have the opportunity to work with your classmates after graduation since you are interested in similar industries. Some people are able to form friendships with their classmates that last a lifetime.

In most cases, first impressions heavily influence a person’s thoughts about you and set the tone for your future relationships. An excellent first impression of friendliness and helpfulness can help you create and nurture great friendships with your classmates.

On the other hand, not putting in the effort for your first online meeting with them can put them off and result in you losing a chance to form lasting bonds with them.

How do I create a good impression in virtual meetings with my classmates?

Here are a few practical first impression tips for virtual meetings with your classmates.

1. Dress for the occasion

Good physical appearance is vital in making a good impression. People who are meeting you for the first time have only your appearance as the first insight into your personality.

A 2009 study published in the Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin found that your clothes play an important role in you making a good impression.

Make sure you dress properly according to the occasion. For instance, if it is for a formal meeting arranged by college authorities, you might want to stick to business casuals. However, if it’s a more relaxed setting, wearing a blazer or a suit would seem out of place.

2. Pay attention to your background

In most cases, we seldom pay attention to our backgrounds when we take a virtual video call. Avoid this habit—your background is one of the first things that the other person notices and shouldn’t be overlooked. An appropriate background can go a long way in creating the right first impression.

The ideal background would be tidy and uncluttered with a solid base and natural lighting. If you don’t have anything that’s suitable, many conferencing apps offer a wide variety of built-in background images that you can choose from to cover your location.

3. Speak to the camera instead of the screen

Direct eye contact is another excellent technique to project credibility and honesty, and it also shows that you are paying attention to what the other person is saying. However, it can be difficult to maintain eye contact over a video call as compared to speaking with them in person.

In most cases, you end up speaking to the image of the other person on your screen and losing eye contact with them. Always remember to look at the webcam or the camera of your laptop while speaking. This will make the other person feel your sincerity towards your conversation.

4. Use the mute feature in group meetings

If you are living with your family or sharing a place with other roommates, you might have unexpected interruptions in the middle of your call. It can be difficult to avoid these disturbances, so use the mute feature on your microphone unless you are speaking to ensure that the others on the call aren’t disturbed by the noises.

Using the mute feature when necessary leaves the impression that you’re considerate enough to avoid making distractions on your end.

5. Don’t try to change your personality

Making a good first impression doesn’t mean you need to change yourself entirely to fit in. Pretending to be someone you’re not can make you feel uncomfortable and can leave you feeling dragged in conversations that are supposed to feel light and  organic.

To avoid this, you should focus on showing who you are as it can help you feel more confident, relaxed, and more open to interactions with other people. Your body language projects the confidence and self-assurance that you need when you are content with your personality.

A vast selection of industry-oriented online programs offered by Niagara College - Toronto (NCT) can help you build your confidence and provide you with soft skills that can brighten your career prospects by helping you create an excellent first impression on prospective employers and future colleagues.

Click here to browse through the programs available at Niagara College Toronto.