If you’ve ever painted your apartment you know it is 90% preparation and only 10% holding and swiping a brush to transform a room. Making a successful entrance – and by extension making a good impression – is much the same. The work you put in before you arrive makes all the difference and pays dividends.

1. Every Entrance Is Situational. Think about where you are going, why you are going and who will be there. Do your research. Even if it’s a friendly, intimate get together Google the other guests if you don’t know them. It will make it easier for you to remember their names. If you’re attending a business function or networking event doing your homework is crucial to maximizing the opportunity.

True story: I met Arianna Huffington 20 years ago when I accompanied a client to a taping of Bill Maher’s former show, Politically Incorrect. This was pre-internet, pre-google. Arianna had researched – lord knows how – and knew the names and professional credits of every one of the panelists. It’s not an accident she’s one of the most influential people in the world.

2. Go With Intention. Think about how you want to present yourself and how you want others to perceive you. Want to come across as smart, sophisticated, sexy and fun? Dress accordingly. It takes advance planning to pull off a well-balanced look that is smart, sophisticated, sexy, and fun. Nothing undermines a “wow” moment like an itchy sweater, too tight skirt or painful shoes no matter how amazing they look. Wincing is not a winning strategy. Your body language will give you away.

Be sure to scan the day’s headlines. Know what’s going on in the world and what songs, movies, books, shows and topics are trending. Practice how to talk about yourself – the hardest part of any conversation for many of us. It helps to do this in front of a mirror. If you can get over the discomfort of talking to yourself you’re halfway there.

3. Visualize. If you are going into new territory whether it’s a job interview, a networking event or a date do a mental dress rehearsal. Close your eyes, inhale deeply and see yourself looking and feeling fabulous, confident. To paraphrase the Buddha, what the mind believes the body achieves.

4. Confidence. This is where all the advance planning pays off. The preparation gives you confidence and you will project this as you “walk-the-walk”. My mother used to tell me, “Knockers up!” which meant shoulders back and chin up. Two things I look for when talent walks into an audition for the first time are confidence and courtesy. Make eye contact, own the room and show me you’re glad to be there.

5. Be On Time. I hate to break it to you but fashionably late is a myth unless you’re Beyonce. Making a late entrance says many things about you, none of them positive. If possible, be a few minutes early so you have a moment to check your lipstick, repeat your affirmations, and enter as your best self.

6. Be Present. With everything going on around you and details swirling in your head, it’s easy to get lost in a mental fog. Two quick ways to bring yourself back to present are controlled breathing (inhale deeply for 6 counts and exhale deeply for 6 counts) and feeling your feet on the floor. Literally gain strength from being rooted. Being present is powerful. Add your natural warmth and radiate charisma.

7. Own and project positivity. Set the temperature in the room. As Plato said, “be kind. Everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.” If you’re not feeling energized either stay home and save your entrance for a better day or smile and strike a pose. There’s scientific proof that smiling makes you feel better. Add 2 minutes of your most fierce power pose and you’ll be sure to feel on top of the world.

barbarabarnaabel_1337806302_87Barbara Barna Abel
is an on-camera coach and casting director and founder of Abel Intermedia, a talent development company based in Brooklyn, New York. She believes everyone has a story to tell and it’s her mission to help you tell it. Twitter: @BarbaraBarna