The Apprentice: 5 lessons in first impressions

Lord_sugar_sir_alan_the_apprentice

The tenth series of The Apprentice kicked off this week, with the usual array of buzzword bingo, bombastic music and talk of “becoming the next big thing” in business. Despite the artificial context and editing, it’s interesting to see how the candidates tackle a real-life challenge: making a good first impression that sticks (in the right way).

Both the initial introduction with Lord Sugar and the selling task highlighted some important points in self-presentation. This post picks out some of the best bits from Episode 1, but doesn’t spoil the ending!

1. Remember your elevator pitch.
How do you want people to remember you? In an interview, pitch or sales situation, you may have just seconds to describe yourself. Think of a clear and concise way of articulating who you are and what you do. Otherwise, you could fall into Steven’s trap — talking so much that we all forget your point.

2. Don’t use words you don’t understand.
The girls’ team chose the team name ‘Decadence’ because they thought it sounded elegant, and may or may not have something to do with a decade. If you use words you’re unsure about, especially when describing yourself, you’re already at a disadvantage. Stick to what you know. (Nick advised the girls to rebrand.)

3. Practise your demo beforehand.
In a surreal moment, Sarah frantically bashed a toilet brush against a bucket (trying to prove its durability). Yet she couldn’t answer fundamental questions about the product. If you want to demonstrate something, practise first and anticipate the various questions that might arise.

4. Present a united front.
If you’re presenting with a colleague or as part of a team, you’ll need to show a united front and support each other. The open bickering and backbiting in both teams ¬— in front of potential customers — was awkward and uncomfortable. Remember that your teammates are an extension of you. Leave disagreements behind the scenes.

5. Watch your language.
Buzzwords, outrageous personal statements, baffling mixed metaphors… let’s be honest, it’s why we enjoy The Apprentice. Since we’re not on TV, few of us would fall into such dramatic traps, but it’s still worth remembering that language is one of the most important tools in making your first impression. (Click here for more tips of choosing the right language to present.)

The opening episode of this series’ The Apprentice can be seen on BBC iPlayer until mid-November in the UK.

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About the author

Gemma Falconer is a Campaign Manager for Citrix. She is part of the EMEA marketing team and looks after the webinar programme, email nurturing and content creation for the UK. In her spare time, you'll find her diving around a volleyball court, trying to learn Portuguese and eating cake – lots of cake! Connect with her on LinkedIn and Twitter More blog posts by Gemma Falconer ››
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