Small businesses had quite the year in 2017, underpinned by the vote to leave the EU, and the subsequent fluctuations and uncertainty in international trade.
But in spite of this unpredictability, the UK’s SMEs flourished in the latter half of last year, and naturally, business people want to keep this ball rolling and ensure security for their companies to the best of their ability. Here are some tips from some of the country’s top business names, that will help you lay the foundation for a strong 2018.
The Perfect Presentation
We all know how important first impressions are in business, and this often means giving a strong presentation. Even the most talented businessperson can be derailed by lack of presenting skills, so don’t let yourself down by neglecting this essential area. Simon de Cintra is a presentation coach and author of ‘Unlock Your Business Voice: How to Sound as Great as You Think’, and has this to say about making your presentations compelling and impactful: “The most effective way to combat public speaking anxiety is to prepare, prepare, prepare. Getting used to the space where you will be conducting your presentation will help keep nerves at bay. This can be achieved by getting to your venue early, finding key distinct places in the room, and at each take a deep diaphragmatic breath, breathing in and out slowly. This method will help refuel your voice and slow your heart rate, helping you come across credibly to potential investors and clients.”
Dress to Impress
There are many dimensions to a first impression, and one of them is the way we present ourselves personally. If you show up to an important pitch not looking your best – or looking like a businessperson – then you have shot yourself in the foot before even speaking. A professional appearance is the mark of a reliable person worth taking a chance on, and if you are not willing to do what it takes to make this impression, then you will lose leads to your competitors. Businesswoman Michaela Jedinak is a fashion designer and personal stylist, and she believes that a look that is both professional-looking and flattering to the individual is central to making a good impression. “I believe that everyone is different and they should build on their own unique DNA rather than try to be a bad copy of someone else. There is the perfect outfit for everyone, it just isn’t the same one,” she advises.
Craft Your Words
Scrubbing up well and looking like a respectable businessperson is important, but it is surprisingly common for the value of the words we speak to be underestimated. Everyone attaches particular emotions and connotations to words and phrases which have an effect on their reactions when they hear them. This is why it is important for the words used during presentations to be carefully considered, and for potential audience impact to be gauged. You don’t want to inadvertently make a bad impression because of poorly-chosen words. Karen Meager and John McLachlan are NLP experts and run Monkey Puzzle Training, and they have this to say: “‘Transparency’ is a common example of a word that has good intentions by suggesting openness, honesty and integrity. However, the majority of the time, people actually want to refer to the term ‘clarity’ – it is not always a positive thing to be completely open and honest with those around you in the workplace, as there is always something that others should not know.”
Hone Your Confidence
We may have already discussed clothing, but personal appearance extends far beyond our choice of attire. People in business take a lot of clues from the way a person looks, and if they can see that you have pride in your appearance and take steps to maintain a neat look, it tells them you have positive character traits that they can make use of.
Anthony Lam is a specialist orthodontist, entrepreneur and head of Elleven Dental, and he insists that looking after your appearance helps boost self-confidence, as well as that of others in your abilities. He advises, “Well-maintained clothes, clean hair and nails are easily achieved, but making sure your teeth look the part can take a little more effort. If you suffer from unsightly teeth, it can be well worth making a trip to your dentist to see what improvements can be made. This may include a whitening solution, implants, or braces to to realign protruding or crooked teeth, which may seem like big steps but a healthier-looking smile can drastically improve first opinions of you, as well as improving your confidence overall.”