Firstly, congratulations! If you are reading this post, you are either interested in public speaking or partake in public speaking! Either or, it’s an excellent way to educate, inform and influence more than one person at a time – and spreading the good word about the work that you do is good for business – and the profession!
As a professional speaker though, I know all too well the common mistakes that can be made. I may have done some myself in the beginning, but I share this post with you because I know many financial advisers will appreciate it – use it as a checklist!
1. Winging it – one of the most common mistakes I’m afraid. Some financial advisers don’t prepare enough and instead barge out in front of the audience, hands in pockets and hope for the best. The devil is in the detail – as they say! If you are a talented, experienced speaker, you might get away with this. However, chances are you won’t, and chances are people will notice. When you wing it, your presentation doesn’t flow, the audience can’t follow, and they become disengaged and stop listening. Never wing it. Respect your audience enough to prepare and rehearse. Your audience has made an effort to come and see your presentation, the least you can do is deliver a well prepared one.
2. Too many facts and not enough influence – Financial Advisers often fall into the trap of thinking that they have to inform, inform, inform and leave it at that. Not the case. An excellent presentation will create awareness, state the problem, show a solution, inspire change and deliver a call to action. If you focus on informing all the time, chances are no-one is calling you after the presentation for more information.
3. Waffling and running over time – goes back to mistake number one – prepare! An organised presentation can have up to six or more components that follow each other nicely and take the audience on a journey of discovery. When you construct your presentation correctly, you will feel far more confident which limits your waffle and stops you from going over time. No-one appreciates being presented to for longer than they were told – unless you are listening to Barack Obama!
4. Lack of evidence – your opinion alone is not enough to allow your argument [your point] to persuade your audience to act. You must provide support by way of facts, stories, case studies and so forth that will resonate with the audience. Luckily, in the financial advice profession there is more than enough data to support any financial advice presentation – just make sure you pepper it with the social proof too.
5. No call to action – most do an excellent job of closing a presentation by wrapping it up in summary but fail to include a call to action – what you want the audience to do as a result of your presentation. People aren’t mind readers; you need to tell them what you want them to do next, nicely of course! Fear of rejection is the major factor here but please, don’t forget this step – your competition doesn’t.
6. Dare I say boring – there is so much that comes into play here from the tone of your voice, to your interaction with the audience. Being able to ‘read’ an audience comes with experience, but as a presenter, you can tell if someone is bored or not by their faces. Remember to have some fun and use plenty of images – as a rule, have one image per slide. Don’t leave your personality at the entrance, be yourself and enjoy. Before your presentation record yourself practising and when you or someone else critiques it – watch out for the boring bits!
7. Bad body language – men please take your hands out of your pockets and clean your shoes! Do not cough into your hand, slouch or adjust any private parts while talking. You may laugh, but it happens! Make eye contact with people and smile. Lack of preparation leads to nerves which lead to bad posture. Women – like it or not, what you wear for a presentation is being critiqued more by the other women in the audience than the men! While I’m all for looking professional, my advice after years of presenting is wear shoes that you can walk in, stand in and feel comfortable!
I can’t say enough about preparation. I know fear and anxiety make a lot of financial advisers shy away from public speaking but the more you prepare and practice, the more at ease you will be. Being nervous before a presentation is a GOOD thing; it keeps you grounded and gets your energy pumping which means you deliver an excellent performance. The nerves will go away as soon as you start [if you prepare]. Those that aren’t nervous come across as cocky, and no-one likes a cocky presenter!
If you would like any more information about public speaking, please feel free to contact me.