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How IFAs can make presentations meaningful

Simon Bucknall

Simon Bucknall

'I need to make sure I cover everything.' 'What happens if I forget?' 'I know, I’ll put all the information on the slides, so that way it’s there for people.' These are all classic elephant traps for a financial adviser preparing a presentation.

To be fair, the topic of finance does not lend itself easily to the spoken word. For many people, it is seen as dry, abstract, complicated or just too darn sensitive – unless or until something happens that affects the money in their pocket, then it gets interesting, fast.

The spoken word is a poor medium for transmitting high volumes of complex information. So it is unsurprising that financial advice makes for a particularly challenging topic on which to present from the conference stage or when pitching to potential clients. 

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Now for the good news. As a presenter, there are things you can do to give yourself a better chance of engaging your audience and getting your message across.

Get clear on the true purpose of your presentation

If you think effective presenting is about transferring knowledge or simply giving an update, think again. No audience comes in craving a data dump. There are vastly superior resources elsewhere for people to access that.

The true value of your presentation lies in the outcome; in how your audience responds as a result. How do you want them to think differently? How do you want them to feel differently? What action(s) would you love for them to take? 

Clarity on these audience-focused outcomes helps filter your content when preparing. True enough, you will want to impart some knowledge in your talk. But think of this as a means to an end, not an end in itself. Focus on what is really in it for your audience and you will not go far wrong.

If you only had 10 words, what would you say? Brutal but powerful.

I have had C-suite clients break out in a sweat attempting to answer this one. If you had to strip everything out, leaving you with only 10 words, what would they be? Aim for a meaningful phrase, not a shopping list of jargon.

This is about honing a crystal clear, core message, to underpin all that you have to say. If nothing else, make this stick with people. In doing so, you will succeed where most presenters fail.

Stories, stories, stories

This is a public speaking tip that is as old as the hills, but it works. We use stories all the time in conversation. Hugely effective for illustrating key points in a presentation too.

Be specific. You do not need a lot of detail for a story to be impactful. But the detail you do use is important. How long ago did the events take place? Who was involved? What was the challenge? What was the critical moment of the story?