Delivering powerful presentations is an essential task for any advisor. This is your chance to show prospects you are an honest, competent financial partner. But it’s not always that simple. Nerves, poor preparation and attendee indifference can all get in the way, so before you face the audience, try implementing these helpful hints as you plan, deliver and finish your presentation.
Preparing for the presentation
Take some time to rehearse before giving your presentation, says Brad Williams, president of Brad Williams Financial Services, Huntsville, Ala. Your attendees want to see if you are knowledgeable, but if you stutter and stumble through your presentation, the audience will not be impressed or confident in your ability to handle their finances.
“You can’t speak with conviction unless you know your material,” Williams says. “When a speaker knows his material and can speak with conviction and enthusiasm, then people will build confidence and trust. That’s when they’ll come to see you.”
To see how well you know your presentation, try testing your knowledge after you have rehearsed, suggests Mark Pruitt, founder and CEO of Strategic Estate Planning Services, Dallas. Take away your slides to see if you can speak without a script. If you are not at the point where you can completely talk unprompted, make a flip chart in case the projector or computer malfunctions during the presentation.
When preparing content, keep your presentation focused on a specific topic, advises Steven Johnson, chief investment officer of Ashton Royce & Company, Williamsburg, Va. Perhaps it’s January when taxes are a concern, or maybe there is upcoming legislation that could affect your prospects. Just find one relevant topic to keep your audience focused and interested.
“It’s like when you’re going to school,” Johnson says. “Anything over an hour is difficult to take, but a lot of presentations want to go an hour and a half or two hours, and then they need an intermission. I think it’s best to keep it specific, shorter and sweeter. I want to be done in 45 minutes at the most.”
With that in mind, try to limit the number of slides you prepare, Johnson adds. Ten to 20 slides, including an introduction and conclusion page, should be enough to highlight a few key items.
“You need to make good points, but there’s no reason to dwell about it,” Johnson says. “They really just want to find out if you know what you’re talking about.”
During the presentation, create an atmosphere that makes the audience feel comfortable by forming a sense of trust. Williams greets everyone upon arrival, he says, and provides a nametag for all attendees, so he can address them by name throughout the presentation. He makes sure to write the names himself, which ensures the print is large enough to read from a distance. As Williams is speaking, he makes eye contact with everyone in the room at some point during the presentation, as well, he says, and this especially brings the nametags into play.
“I never set up a room where I’m confined to just the front where I give the presentation,” Williams says. “I want to be sure I can move around. If someone asks something, I want to go over and engage them, and that’s where the nametags come in. I want to look them in the eye and address them by their first name.”
Industry publications; quotes from well-respected financial gurus, such as Warren Buffet; and relevant news stories are all effective means for establishing trust, as they validate your statements. But spewing quotes isn’t enough. You should also provide hard references or at least a source list for any statistic or fact you quote, Williams says.