Body language: Make a million-dollar first impression in seven seconds

We are always transferring information through our bodies, consciously and unconsciously,” says Catherine Molloy, international guest speaker at TEDx Enniskillen.

he has travelled from her home north of Brisbane to Fermanagh for the event at the Ardhowen Theatre today.

Catherine became interested in body language as a teen and began studying it full time at 19. She has a Master’s in neuro-linguistic programming and qualifications in business, leadership and management.

“I wanted to learn about others as that is what all the courses are about, however body language is very subjective, it is never the one thing and it takes years to understand,” Catherine says.

“The gold is in learning — in understanding your reactions and how they can be perceived by others.

“I quickly learnt that we are always transferring information through our bodies, our actions stemming from what we think, consciously and unconsciously. I started to understand my own body language, and how to greet others and make them feel great.

“I was working in a bank, and they brought out body language tapes, and I took them home and watched them. I was soon topping sales for Westpac, our biggest bank back then.

“What I learned is that there is a fine line between influence and manipulation — and influence is used for good. So, for me, it was all about that customer service. I only let customers know about products that were actually better than what they had.

“It was about giving that great customer service, and sales just followed. I remember being in one branch and they said, how did you get the sale? These have been our customers for 18 years without purchasing. I said, ‘I spoke to them’.”

Catherine delivers workshops globally, coaching participants on how to motivate and energise others when speaking publicly, and how to be more conscious of their own “energy language”.

“When we talk about body energy language, it means you can feel who that person is and what emotions they are displaying. We can feel someone’s energy beside us before we even look at them.

“For example, we are cool when feeling calm and relaxed, and we start to heat up when we are angry or frustrated.

“Everything is energy and we can alter our energy by changing our thoughts, our state of mind and behaviours.”

Catherine Molloy

Catherine says she is looking forward to coming to Fermanagh.

“I visited Ireland in 2019 for the first time. We went through some family history then,” she says. “My father’s side are Ryans from Tipperary, and my husband is Molloy, so we might have a little bit of that Irish luck hopefully!

“I am going to be talking about how to hack the secrets for conscious communication. What you think you see isn’t always right. I believe that you can watch and learn from this talk and pick up some quick hacks to create more win-wins in your life through how you communicate.

“I was invited to TEDx Enniskillen after I authored my last book, The Conscious Leader.

“I have a message that I know consciously changes the way we communicate, and it helps people to create more win-wins. And when we create more win-wins in life, we are happier, right? The number one problem in life today is the way we communicate. I have shared this message with many audiences and many people come up to me and say, ‘I really needed to hear that’.”

Catherine’s book, The Million Dollar Handshake, outlines how to immediately make a positive first impression.

“Online, we get two to three seconds to make a great first impression, face-to-face you get around seven seconds, and on stage we get up to 15 seconds.

“Have you ever met someone and liked them straight away? And have you ever met someone and you didn’t like them? Well, let’s say you meet someone who you don’t like, it can take up to 12 more meetings in order to take away that first negative impression. Creating that good first impression gives you a chance of having an ongoing relationship.

“First impressions do count — and few have as much impact as your handshake. A handshake can let the other person know if we are nervous, over-excited, confident or interested in them, and it can tell us so much about that person.”

Catherine says the secret to mastering an influential handshake involves five simple steps.

“Firstly, maintain good eye contact,” she advises.

“Secondly, consider the degree of firmness of your handshake. You have met people who have shaken your hand and it has felt really firm. What do you think they think of your handshake? The interesting thing is, in a nanosecond we can alter the degree of firmness of our handshake so we match the other person’s.

“Some people shake with soft hands because they don’t want to hurt you, so if we match them, it mightn’t be the handshake we like, but guess what? They like it. Similarly, if someone has a really firm handshake and you match that, then they will like that.

“The third is make sure your webs touch (the area between your thumb and index finger).

“The fourth one is, only shake two to three times. If you shake more than that, you become a bit of a pumper. Maybe you’re excited or maybe you’re nervous, but that energy is transferred to the other person.

“Shake for two to three seconds only. Don’t keep holding on to the person’s hand because that’s very uncomfortable, and we saw that a lot with Donald Trump’s handshakes.

“He held the Prime Minister of Japan’s hand for over 19 seconds, and afterwards, Shinzo Abe stood up and rolled his eyes and sat back down. The video of that is online.”

To impress others, in addition to delivering the perfect handshake, she advises: “Dress for the occasion in a similar way to the people you are meeting.

“Believe in yourself, because when you believe in yourself, others will believe in you too.

“And then make that great eye contact, deliver your million-dollar handshake and be present. Listen and ask questions.

“The world needs you to be you, just a little more conscious; conscious of self, conscious of others, and also conscious of context.

“Each of us can and do make a difference. Together we are like ‘boom, boom, dynamite’.”

For more from Catherine Molloy, see For information on TEDx Enniskillen, visit

Belfast Telegraph