“90% of most impressions are made in the first 30 seconds of a meeting and they are not based on the substance of your proposal.”

Your image is a critical but frequently ignored issue in starting a business.  Whether we are communicating "one-to-one" over the telephone, "one-to-a-group" such as at a small business meeting or "one-to-a-hundred" as during a presentation, other people's impressions of us are very important and we should work hard to make sure that their first impression is a positive one.  Here are some tips:

  • Learn to Say: how are you, please and thank you.
  • Understand the situation in terms of the audience, their needs and their style. In today’s diverse environment your attire, language, & aggressiveness must be appropriate to the situation.
  • Research your audience or target before you communicate. Google, Facebook and LinkedIn are great and easy sources to get information.
  • Be professional in speech.  Preparation is key.
  • Be punctual, or call to defer or explain. 
  • Find common points of interest like occupation, school, where you grew up or family.
  • Everything including business cards, answering the phone, dress and presentation are critical to the success of your efforts.
  • Give your name, your company name and try to learn their name or names.
  • Put a signature on your emails with name, e-mail address and phone number.
  • Dress and manage for the opportunity you want and not the one you have.
  • Coordinate and match your wardrobe and be true to your style.  Don’t try to be someone you are not.
  • Understand yourself and the situation when choosing clothes, accessories and makeup.   
  • Incorporate humor and stories into your presentation.
  • Vary tone, detail and emotion to create interest and avoid boredom. 
  • Start strong, close stronger and have an action follow up.
  • Use visual aids, gestures, emotion and movement to enhance your presentation.
  • Be prepared for surprises and don’t get flustered.
  • Look at people when you are speaking with them face to face.
  • Do not interrupt conversations, particularly with customers, to answer your phones or check text messages.
  • Do not look at your mobile devices during conversations.  Silence them.
  • When in a meeting or a room full of people think about where you are positioning yourself with regards to the people you are communicating with.

Provided by Westchester SCORE

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