By Binh Nguyen
When financial advisors are able to establish themselves as effective public speakers, it’s often a powerful boost to their businesses, personal development and professional opportunities. Embracing your voice, incorporating it into the way you brand yourself and using it as a platform to inspire, inform, or lead others allows you to set yourself apart as an advisor.
Why It Is Important to Be an Effective Public Speaker
Take advantage of public speaking engagements whenever the opportunity presents. Establishing yourself as an expert who is able to speak confidently will benefit many aspects of both your life and business. Many advisors have seminars where they teach prospective clients about aspects of wealth that families and individuals should be aware of. Others earn the opportunity to speak at conferences in front of peers and potential referral sources. Public speaking is a very powerful tool and gives you the platform to share your message.
How to Ensure Success
The two most important things to remember before going into a speaking engagement: Practice and prepare. Do your research; make sure you know who your audience is and how the room will be set up. Practice is an essential part of speaking success many often overlook. When you come practiced and prepared, you are more confident and ready to execute.
Ensure success by assessing your comfort level and presentation style. Some prefer using Power Point, while others enjoy a more conversational approach. Think about whether or not you will need notes, an outline, or if you’d prefer to feed off of the audience. When you have to present in a manner that does not typically suit you (because it will happen eventually), practice and preparation can help you become more comfortable with it.
Tips for Taking the Stage
After you have prepared and practiced, the time will come for you to actually take the stage (or, the front of the room in a small, but crowded, conference room). So, how do you speak effectively? By speaking with intent. Speak in a way that you move those around you to action. You want your audience to understand what you’re saying, feel your authenticity and want to do something because of it.
For those who get nervous when tasked with speaking to a large audience, they tend to cope with crutches like using filler words. This is completely normal, and there are things you can do to avoid letting the “ums” and “likes” sneak into your presentation. If you find yourself getting turned around and using filler words, or feeling nervous, try slowing down your rate of speaking. Take a few deep breaths, speak slower and really focus on what you are saying.
Ah, the evaluation. Many advisors who engage in speaking opportunities often miss this critical step. After you speak, try not to fall back into your regular, busy routine right away. Make sure you are always improving and adapting your public speaking approaches to be more effective next time.
One way to evaluate yourself is by taking note of the audience during your presentation. Look for positive or negative cues. Is your audience nodding, smiling, taking notes, or laughing at your jokes (pity laughs count)? These are signs your presentation is engaging and your audience is receptive to what you are saying. On the other hand, maybe your audience is talking or on their phone the entire time you are speaking. This is a bad sign that shows your audience is not connected and may be rejecting what you are saying. You may also consider asking a colleague or friend to sit in the audience to give you feedback. Once you have evaluated how you did, you can improve what needs to be worked on and stick with what seems to work well.
Public speaking can be very useful if done effectively. There are many ways for you to utilize your voice and there are many opportunities to do so. Speak up, speak effectively and speak so that others will listen intently.
Want to learn more? Listen to our latest podcast on How To Be An Effective Public Speaker or download Turning Press Into Profits: A PR Guide For Professional Services Firms.
Binh Nguyen is an account coordinator at Flackable, a national public relations and digital marketing agency headquartered in Philadelphia. Learn more at www.flackable.com. Follow Binh on Twitter at @Binh_4thewin.