How to win your audience with a good handshake


Your job interview has gone great…and then it happens, you shake hands. For the inexperienced hand-shaker, this can make or break your chance to leave a lasting impression.

So where do you start? In today’s society, we live in a hands-off mode. No handshake, a simple acknowledgment like “wassup”, “hey,” even “good afternoon” will do. But really, it won’t.

So why is a handshake so important? The handshake is a universal greeting. A way to come across as being open. Think about it.

Would you want to do business with someone who approached you with crossed arms? Doubtful. How about with someone who is extending their hand to you?

It is a very different situation. Think of a handshake as a disarming tactic. Instead of being nervous, extending your hand makes you come across as being likable and in the process, can help put your business associate at ease.

So now that you know why a handshake is so important, here are 4 steps to a good handshake

Step 1: Make eye contact
I’m not saying to have a staredown. Instead, look them directly in the eye to give them the assurance that you are the right person. Remember, looking past them suggests distrust.

Step 2: Extend your hand
In this situation, the one thing you don’t want to do is to deny a handshake. This sends the wrong signal and can end any chance you have of getting that job, acceptance letter, etc…because it suggests that you are a closed person.

Another thing you want to avoid is lock-arm. Don’t come in too stiff to where you are like a robot. Instead, relax and raise the arm slowly and extend your hand. Be natural and casual, but not too loose.

Step 3: The grip
This is the key part of a handshake. So you have mastered making eye contact and extending your arm/hand. Now, slowly reach your hand out. Remain firm (but not too firm), and grip the persons hand. Squeeze it like you are holding a tennis racket or golf club with one hand.

Step 4: The release
Once you have completed the handshake, the last step is to release. For this part, you can play it by ear (or hand). Some people hold a handshake for 2-3 seconds. Others hold a handshake while continuing the conversation. Just be sure you pay attention so that you aren’t still in handshake mode when they have clearly moved on.

There you have it. A guide to the right handshake. Give yourself a hand, really – now it is time to practice.

To help familiarize yourself, find someone, a friend, co-worker, a family member and greet them. Pretend you are closing an important business deal, receiving a scholarship, meeting the President of a company. You will be amazed at how far a handshake can go.

So when you shake hands, how long do you typically shake hands for? Share your method below in the comments.