Think before you speak

Some speakers overestimate their speaking abilities and approach presentations thinking they can improvise a stellar speech. Without proper planning, though, a speech can go awry, leaving clients to their own thoughts instead of listening to you. Mitch Anthony and Scott West liken speech-giving to piloting a plane in their book "The Financial Planner's Guide to Persuading 1 or 1,000."

Your presentation should be as detailed as a flight plan, with a clearly defined beginning, middle and end. Decide what you want your clients to walk away with and keep it simple. Strip out anything that doesn't explicitly help you make your point. And of course - practice. The authors recommend advisors be so well-rehearsed they can predict when clients will laugh, cry or sit back in stunned silence.

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