Time for your 60-second make-over

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Some people love them. Some people hate them. Those 60-second slots  to introduce ourselves at networking sessions are business Marmite.
However you feel about them, they can be important when it comes to making the right impression on would-be customers.
Do well, and you might make a lasting business-client relationship.
Do badly, and you pass up a chance to impress.
Here are my top 5 tips to ensure you make the right impression:

1. Say who you are and what you do.
You’d be amazed how many people forget this. It’s worth saying it up front, and reminding people quickly at the end.

2. Talk about what you can do for potential customers.
So many people talk about themselves and list their products. Would-be customers want to know how you can help them – sell the benefits.

3. Create a way to be remembered.
Taking something visual along is a good tip. Will you be the bloke with the hi-vis vest or the woman with the hula hoop? You’ll stand out from the crowd.
Creating a verbal hook for the end of your speech is also a good technique – something which plays on words in your industry always goes down well.

4. Write it down.
If you don’t want to write down the whole 60-second speech, write bullet points. You will forget things, otherwise. It’s useful to have something to pull you back into the flow if you feel yourself getting lost.

5. React to things around you.
Think about the audience, the location, or if something funny has just happened. Don’t be afraid to work a little of that in at the last minute – it’ll make your 60 seconds seem fresh.

Don’t worry if it feels daunting – most of us felt like that until we became used to doing it. I certainly did!
Practise makes perfect. So even if you have a few stumbles on the first few occasions you speak, you will improve.
Remember, there’s always someone new at these events who won’t have seen your 60 seconds before.
You can make a great first impression on them, and change the way the rest of the group sees you, too.
It’s time for your 60-second make-over!

Maria Williams is a copywriter, professional blogger, and PR for small business. Visit www.wordsyoucanuse.co.uk.

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Lies, damned lies, statistics, and spin

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The latest opinion polls suggest that small business owners are evenly spilt on whether to vote for or against Brexit.

Deciding whether to trust either narrative has been extremely difficult, and there has been an interesting development during the EU referendum debate – the rise of fact checkers.

Many people say they are so tired of spin and skewed statistics that they no longer believe claims from either side. A number of media organisations and independent groups like 38 Degrees are now employing fact checkers to cut through the spin and give the public a clearer idea of the facts.

Spin over facts is a criticism which can be aimed at both sides right now. Boris Johnson continues to use the figure of £350m a week as the cost of EU membership to the UK. Yet, as the UK Statistics Authority has pointed out on a number of occasions, this is a GROSS figure before money which the UK receives back from the EU in rebate is deducted from it.

The chairman of the UKSA Sir Andrew Dilnot has spoken of his disappointment that the Brexit camaigners are continuing to use this figure – even on adverts on the side of their buses. He said its use misleads because its context is never presented, leading people to assume it’s a NET figure.

He said the £350m figure is “misleading and undermines trust in official statistics.”

On the Remain camaign side, Stuart Rose, chairman of Britain Stronger In Europe, refused to withdraw a claim that every UK household benefits from EU membership to the tune of £3.000 a year despite that figure’s debunking.

If you’re looking for an independent view, beware fact checking from media organisations which have decided to take a view on whether to leave or remain in the EU. Instead, look for independent sites.

Here are two authoritative fact-checking sites where you can go to avoid the spin:

Charity Full Fact gives you an unbiased view on a number of issues, and has checked many facts on the EU in the past few months. Read about them here.

The UK and EU was set up to give business people, journalists, politicians, and the public facts about out relationship with the EU. See its work here.

Maria Williams is a journalist, copywriter, and professional blogger. Visit www.wordsyoucanuse.co.uk