During the summer, at The Magic Circle, one of our more distinctive members gave a short lecture. Laura London stands out in a crowd even though she no longer wears the tight leather outfits she did a few years back.Laura London, entertaining Prince Charles

She still has bright red hair and lips which I am sure command attention wherever she goes. However, despite her distinctive look, Laura adopts a softer, gentler approach to many of her close-up performances and ensures that the spectator appears to be doing the magic themselves.

Laura is a firm believer however that “It’s not about the magic, it’s about you. The first words you say, the way you look, the person that you are and the kind of personality you portray are the first things that people judge you on.”

In Laura’s case I imagine that many people she meets assume her character will be something different to how she comes across one on one. I am sure this works to her advantage.

It got me thinking though. Normally we say that ‘you never get a second chance to make a first impression’. The implication being that the first thing people assume about you will determine what they think and remember about you. I have always taken this to mean that if you don’t create a positive first impression you won’t get a second chance.

Watching Laura deliver her lecture and chatting with her afterwards has caused me to rethink the idea which I now see as too simplistic.

If the real you is distinct from the first impression people perceive, this can work for or against you. For most of us there is a risk in cultivating a degree of incongruity, which is what Laura does. It works well for her and the ‘real’ Laura is typically less ‘outrageous’ than her appearance might lead one to expect.

If someone forms a less than positive first impression of you as a professional or a performer they may well switch off.  Typically you will struggle to recover from this disadvantage. If however the initial impression you give commands attention. you want to avoid disappointing people unless what you do or say is truly impressive and memorable in its own right. This is what I think Laura does and it’s not easy.

Who else do you know, or know of, who stands out through their appearance and first impressions but which seem to be misleading as compared with their natural style and approach? Does the incongruity work for them or against them?