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Making your seminar presentations count

Presenting to a room of potential clients with clarity, conviction, credibility and authority is now a critical business skill, says Phil Calvert, founder of LifeTalk

All too often I’ve seen that look of despair when the email comes through from HR saying, “Your manager has recommended you attend Presentation Skills training”.

At some point in their career, colleagues of all ages and
rank receive the email and
the expression on their faces
is always the same – even amongst hardened sales staff. So it’s not surprising that Presentation Skills training is the course most often ‘bunked off’ at the last minute with a visit to the dentist for root canal work suddenly becoming quite appealing.

Yet, possessing great presentation skills is as important today as it has always been. Although I’m
the first person to say that financial advisers should be embracing the Internet to interact and communicate withclients and professional connections, I’m also the first to suggest that the ability to speak and present in front of clients with clarity, conviction, credibilityand authority is now a critical business skill. Having great presentation skills is not an optional extra for today’s professional financial adviser; it’s essential.

An interesting offshoot of RDR is that more and more advisers at the quality end of the market are now putting greater focus on their personal communication skills. And that’s not surprising; what a waste it would be if all those hours of study for exams and careful development of your service proposition went to waste simply because you couldn’t communicate it.

Old style presentation ‘skills’ no longer hack it

The good news about today’s presentation skills training is that it’s moved on from how
it was when you last attended that course in the 1980s. And that’s just as well because your old-school skills will now be doing your presentations more harm than good.

Old-school presentation skills training had all the focus on doing things the ‘right way’
– the right way to stand, the right clothes to wear, the right way to position your hands, the right way to use a flip chart, the right way to handle audience questions, the right way to master your nerves and I’ve even been taught ‘the right way to smile’. Today, really good trainers will focus your attention on helping you to understand your personal presentation style and to be yourself.

There’s also the very real problem that when you speak in front of an audience, typically they will only remember around 10% of what you tell them – let alone then act on your wisdom. (We prove this statistic in our workshops). So no amount
 of standing the ‘right way’ or projecting your voice ‘the right way’ will make the slightest bit of difference to helping your audience to remember and act on what you tell them.

In our own presentation workshops we initially focus on helping you to feel confident about standing up and speaking to a group of people in the first place, and second practice a technique which will increase the amount they remember from that paltry 10% to as much as 90%. Yes 90%.

Let’s be honest, for most people, standing up and presenting to a group of people is one of the scariest things they’ll ever do. But they are often surprised to discover that their fear can quickly be transformed into excitement when they learn to know and appreciate their personal presenting style. Everyone’s style is different, but when you know who you are, you soon wish you had been hosting client seminars and workshops years ago. And let’s face it; most of the most successful financial planners around the world have used seminars and presentations as part of their communication armoury.

We’ve all heard the expression ‘People buy People’. It’s as
 true today as it’s always been, and a great presentation skills trainer will coach even the most nervous of course attendees to take the leap of faith to truly‘be themselves’ in front of an audience. When you drop your old-school skills and focus
on leveraging your personal presentation style, that’s when the magic happens.

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