It’s understandably difficult to think about growing your business in volatile times such as these — but it’s essential that you do so anyway. As discussed in my past few columns, building or re-building your business necessitates that you carve out time both for “defense” and especially “offense” activities. We’ve already considered offense activities such as asking existing clients for referrals and more assets to manage, and creating strategic alliances with other professional advisors such as CPAs. This month we’ll consider an excellent way to acquire new clients and generate new business even in tough markets, and that’s the offense activity of giving group presentations.
An Invitation to Succeed
In our CEG Worldwide coaching programs, we differentiate between “public seminars” and “group presentations.” The critical difference is that public seminars are sponsored by the individual giving the talk, while group presentations occur in the context of an existing association or group which invites you to come and be their speaker. As an invited speaker, you automatically have enhanced positioning and credibility, as well as the subliminal — and in some cases explicit — endorsement of the inviting organization.
Start by contacting local groups and associations, such as chambers of commerce and Rotary clubs, as well as other organizations where your ideal client prospects are most likely to be found. Look first to professional groups, such as cardiologist or dentist associations, or to small business owners or real estate developer groups. And while you might at first think that it would be difficult to get a speaking engagement and attract an audience in today’s market, the reality is quite the opposite. In fact, it’s fairly easy to get an audience today because people of all kinds and at all levels of wealth are desperate for ideas, strategies and solutions.
As for the actual subject of your presentation, do not talk about investment opportunities per se, but instead focus on wealth management strategies and solutions. Individuals today need to re-think their entire financial situations, so you can deliver the most value — even in a short talk — by focusing on the specific challenges your audience has and by offering specific insights and solutions to these challenges. It’s critical, then, that you do as much in-depth research about your group’s needs and challenges as you can. You want your ideas and solutions to be relevant, to resonate, and to be immediately applicable to your audience. In this way, you’ll greatly enhance the value of your presentation, and the likelihood of gaining affluent clients from your presentation will increase ten-fold.
Preparing For Your Talk
To get the most out of your presentation, give the best talk you can possibly give. While not everyone can be a charismatic orator along the lines of Winston Churchill or Martin Luther King, there are still a number of easy and effective skills that you can practice and learn. First, once again, make sure you do ample research and prepare effective wealth-management-oriented solutions targeted to your group.
Second, prepare a handout. You can use projected slides if the right equipment is available, but it’s crucial not to over-rely on PowerPoint. What’s more important than what your audience sees and hears in real-time is what they take home, so you want to give them a handout that they can take notes on. (Adults learn in three different ways: aurally, visually or kinesthetically. Approximately 44 percent of adults are kinesthetic learners, which means they learn best when they have something to hold onto, something they can write on and make their own.) Ideally, you’ll have written a white paper that you can use as a handout, and even more ideally, your talk will be on the subject of the white paper, which will reinforce your positioning as an expert. If you do use slides, keep them simple, make sure the graphics are large enough to be seen, and keep the points you’ll make tightly tied to your overall theme.
Third, make sure that ahead of time you practice, practice, and then practice. Absolutely nothing substitutes for actually giving your presentation in front of a live audience, so gather your staff, your family, and your friends, and then stand up in front of them and do your best. (Going through your slides in your mind is an extraordinarily poor substitute for giving your presentation live.
Make sure you make at least one video recording of yourself giving your presentation in front of others, and then review that recording in a very specific way. (Ideally, you’d also discreetly record yourself in the venue and on the actual stage where you’ll be presenting.) First, since virtually no one likes the sound of his or her own voice, you’ll want to turn the picture off and just play the sound so you can get used to hearing yourself. Until you get past cringing at the sound of your own voice, you won’t be able to learn anything useful from your recording, so make yourself sit there and listen until you’re fine with it. You’ll probably notice that you make a great number of verbal faux pas, but in most cases, your audience won’t hear them because the human brain is programmed to correct ordinary speech errors and fill in the blanks.