Why First Impressions Matter (Including in Politics)

Dr. Louis Perron
blog post louis

I happen to believe that the bellman is one of the most important staff in a hotel. It is the first and the last person you meet. The last time I checked into hotel Quellenhof, a luxury wellness resort in Switzerland, the bellman greeted me saying “hello Mr. Perron, good to see you again.” I was thinking: “Wow, does he really know my name? I’m not staying here that often.”

I experienced a different kind of check-in recently in a resort outside of Minsk. When I arrived I was asked to pay the presidential suite upfront and was handed the key, much like in a motel. I then carried our four pieces of luggage to the presidential suite myself because there was no bellman at the hotel.

Now, why do first impressions matter?

First impressions matter because we tend to judge everything that follows through the lens of the first impression. When the tea sommelier brought me my favorite water to my room at the Quellenhof, I had decided that the place really rocks. They couldn’t do anything wrong after that. On the other hand, when the Jacuzzi didn’t work in the presidential suite, I came to the conclusion that the place sucks. For a moment I was pondering to just write off the payment and move to the nearest Marriott.

What does this mean for politics? People will decide within the first five seconds whether or not to listen to your speech. Write your opening. Throw it out. Write it again and make it much more of an attention grabber.

Voters will give you even less than five seconds to assess a leaflet or another campaign material. If it looks like the usual election propaganda, chances are that it will be immediately dismissed as such and thrown away. Have the courage to produce materials that look different from all the others.

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