I have known many outstanding investors who have not survived as financial advisors. Perhaps in a subsequent business life, they will be reincarnated as quants somewhere, possibly even enjoying great success. But as financial advisors, they were failures.
Why did these often brilliant investors fail as advisors? The missing ingredient was presentation skills. They had the knowledge but could not convey it in a persuasive manner.
Some people are born with great powers of persuasion. Others will never have even mediocre presentation skills. For most, presentation skills can be learned.
Let me give you an example from an earlier incarnation of my business in which I had a team of seminar presenters crisscrossing the country, training mostly rookie FAs. I had a team of five people giving seminars on telephone prospecting to rookie brokers in wirehouses. I maintained then — as I do now — that I could take a person with decent personal communication skills and teach him or her to be a masterful presenter.
My training process was fairly simple. Once I had hired someone as a seminar presenter, I gave them a set of cassette tapes of my seminar. Step one: Transcribe it by hand. Step two: Read it aloud, over and over, until it’s smooth. At this point, they still sounded like me, not them.
To make it their seminar, while preserving my own tried-and-true structure, I then had them condense their notes. If their first transcript was 200 pages, I had them condense it to 100. And then they would rehearse it, rehearse it and rehearse it.
The 100 pages would now get rewritten to 50 pages. And there was more rehearsal. Finally, for each half hour of seminar, they could have all the notes they could fit on one side of a 3 x 5 card. Naturally, they had to rehearse even more.
Guess what? By this time, they had a message. The foundation for great presentation, whether it is to be delivered to one person or 1,000, is absolute mastery of material.
With this as background, let me introduce you to a wonderful book. As I meandered through a bookstore in O’Hare Airport, it practically jumped off the table at me. The book is The Exceptional Presenter: A Proven Formula to Open Up And Own the Room by Timothy J. Koegel (Greenleaf Book Group Press, 2007).
The Five ComponentsMr. Koegel believes there are five components to any exceptional presentation. He says they should be used in a 60-second opening, and expanded to develop the body of a message.
I decided to test the author’s thesis against some of the greatest presentations ever. I did a Google search for “greatest speeches of all time.” I scored. Check out www.americanrhetoric.com, where you will find a list of “Top 100 Speeches.” So, I took the author’s “five components” and looked to see if these elements were in some great speeches. Judge for yourself.
1. Begin with a “Purpose”"I am happy to join with you today in what will go down in history as the greatest demonstration for freedom in the history of our nation.” — Martin Luther King, “I Have a Dream” Speech
“Ladies and Gentlemen, I’d planned to speak to you tonight to report on the state of the Union, but the events of earlier today have led me to change those plans.” — Ronald Reagan, Space Shuttle Challenger Tragedy Address
“I address you with neither rancor nor bitterness in the fading twilight of life, with but one purpose in mind: to serve my country.” — General Douglas MacArthur, Farewell Address to Congress
2. Objective/Purpose/Mission/GoalMr. Keogel clarifies: “Give the audience a 30,000 foot view of your agenda.”
“In a sense we’ve come to our nation’s capital to cash a check. When the architects of our republic wrote the magnificent words of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence, they were signing a promissory note to which every American was to fall heir.” –King
“Today is a day for mourning and remembering. Nancy and I are pained to the core by the tragedy of the shuttle Challenger. We know we share this pain with all of the people of our country. This is truly a national loss.” –Reagan