Meeting and greeting people in the events industry is vital and first impressions really matter as they live long in the mind, those handshakes matter. They are an important and fundamental part of our personal and business life. It may look simple from the outset, but it really can turn awkward and distract from doing such a good first impression.

We can all remember those bad handshakes and that initial introduction to somebody new and instead of the solid, firm and confident hand shake that we expect we are thrust into a limp fish, a crushing gripper or a sweaty slip.

That good impression you were looking for can really go wrong with that first handshake mess up, my favourite big handshake mistakes are as follows;

  • The Limp Fish– This has to be one of the worst, not gripping properly and just grabbing skin, this really does portray no confidence and that they are a push over so please be a bit stronger and give off a better impression.
  • The Sweaty Slip– Sometimes you really can’t help those sweaty palms especially when you are nervous and it can be normal for a lot of people but when shaking hands in stressful situations like a job interview it can be quite awkward.  All you have to remember is to dry your hands before hand there is no excuse.
  • The Pinch– When shaking hands there is no place for a pinch, ok the Queen might do it but there is no place for it in real life. This to me gives off a real impression that I am not bothered about shaking your hand or that I am better than you I don’t want to shake your hand.
  • The Hand-Holder– There is definitely a timelimit on how long you shake hands with someone as no one wants a hand holder, there has to be a limit of up to 3 shakes then anything after that just gets a bit weird. If any longer it can be distracting and you miss the proper introduction of meeting someone, so lets not be awkward.
  • The Avoider– Again you don’t want to be someone who does it too quick and avoids eye contact, this sends out signals of under confidence, shy or they just don’t want to meet you.
  • The Crushing Gripper– A handshake is not a power competition, there are people out there that just want to crush and prove how strong they are, nobody likes these people as you don’t want all your fingers broken. It can get quite uncomfortable; you start you wonder why they want to hurt them and think you just want to run away.

Ok maybe there is a little bit more to a handshake that meets the eye and it takes a little getting used to, but it really does help to gain that great first impression. To me, if I get any of these handshakes, then I know they are lacking the basic social skills and emotional intelligence. Then I thought, maybe people just don’t realise what they are doing and not aware of what is happening, but I have some excellent news.  It can be changed quickly and easily.

Here is a few tips of what I think can help (Free help) to make a good handshake.

  • Confident Attitude
  • Good posture and stance
  • Give a big smile
  • Hands interlink at the web of your hands
  • Firm grip (not too limp but not too strong)
  • Eye Contact
  • Shake 2 or 3 times from your elbow
  • The let go
  • DONE!

So now we have the fundamental areas of a handshake, but come on, nobody is perfect and it can go wrong. If this happens then we have a fail safe, for whatever reason you end up with an awkward grip or an unintentional pinch or those sweaty hands. It is best to say sorry, tell them its not what you expected and that it wasn’t a proper handshake and lets try again. Always remember, you never get a second chance to make a first impression so it’s vital not to mess up.

Last but not least there is a number of cultural differences and customs to consider. What I have said is appropriate here but over in Asia and the Middle East things are different. When I was over there they much prefer a weaker handshake, not always appropriate for men to shake hands with women in Islamic countries and that people in Thailand don’t like shaking hands at all.

I really hope you can take some of this and use it to shake hands properly and really give that great first impression you are looking for. Here is a little video for you to look at the worst handshakes.