Financial advisors are generally viewed as a gregarious bunch. And while this is true for some, it serves as unnecessary pressure for those who don’t feel as comfortable in front of crowds. This is difficult in an industry in which public speaking and being able to think quickly on your feet has so much impact on your success.
I recently attended an event that ran the gamut from incredibly experienced speakers to those who knew their material but were obviously pretty green in terms of public speaking.Which got me to consider the advice I'd give to those who want to calm the tension and feel more at ease when faced with a public speaking opportuinity. These tips can be applied in pretty much any client acqusition or client engagement opportunity as well
Practice as much as possible: Practicing is the surest way to guarantee your nerves will be at bay once you get in front of your audience. If possible, try practicing in the room where you’re presenting. Anything you can do to simulate the actual event environment will make you feel more sure of yourself and comfortable. Many people even opt to practice in front of an audience so that they are accustomed to seeing faces and responding to people’s shifts, reactions, and body language in the moment.
Make a connection: Granted, you might be speaking with the ultimate goal of selling whatever it is that keeps food on your table—whether its planning strategy, investment advice, or something else—but take the opportunity to go beyond what it does for you, to what it does for the people you are selling it to. What do they experience as a result of being the recipient of your advice, product or service? How does it relate to their experiences in the moment they are listening to the presentation—what they did just before coming, or what they might have to do later in their day after leaving? They key is to trigger something personal in them through your speech, something that they can’t help but relate to.
Be human: This advice I stole from Simon Sinek, because it’s so true and provides such powerful impact. When I speak, I always find a way to remind people that I have a life outside of the present moment. I do my best to refer to my children, or my home-life—which actually happens quite naturally. This not only makes me appear “human” as Sinek advises, but it also gives people a point of connection, an opportunity to relate to me on another level apart from what I’m telling them in the moment. Essentially, it makes me more credible.
Clear your mind: Before you present, if possible, take about ten minutes just to clear your mind. Meditate on the goals you want to achieve before walking out of the presentation. Imagine a successful experience in which you have completed the presentation, answered your audience’s questions to the best of your ability, and received praise for a wonderful job. Don’t be distracted by your nerves in this time, but don’t ignore them either. Acknowledge their presence, take a deep breath, and do your best to get your mind to focus on the positive. This will allow you to begin the presentation with the poise and confidence necessary to do your best.
Coaching questions from this article:
- What have been your biggest hurdles in public speaking and how have you faced them in the past?
- What evidence shows that you’ve previously been successful at making a connection with your audience?
- What sort of ritual do you employ before you speak to help yourself feel more at ease with getting up in front of a crowd?