A popular sales tool used by financial advisers is hosting seminars for both prospective and current clients. In this article I’m assuming that you are crystal clear on your objectives for the presentation and on your message to be delivered. Here are 5 tips to maximise the impact of your presentation at the seminar and to keep your audience engaged.
1. Cut down your number of slides, and then cut them down again!
The number one presentation killer…… You have a very good message to deliver, an excellent product to sell but you can’t understand halfway through why people are starting to nod off! More often than not, it’s because your presentation is just too long. The audience has just got bored!
A useful rule of thumb is to allow at least 2 minutes per slide (excluding the cover and end slides). That means if your presentation is 20 minutes long, there definitely should not be more than 10 slides. Otherwise you’re just flicking through slides and not engaging anyone, or else you end up rushing through the last few slides. Often these are the important selling slides too!
2. Reduce the content on each slide
There should not be more than 5/6 lines of text on a single slide. Why does this make sense? Because the audience have come to listen to you, not to read your slides! Otherwise they could just have asked you to email them a copy of the slides the next day. You are the main act and your slides are a summary of what you’re saying, not the other way around! Also if you don’t give them every little detail, this increases the chance of an engaging Q&A session afterwards.
If your presentation requires the audience to be given every detail, give them a hand-out at the end – how bad is it if they ring you the next day with a question?
3. Make your presentation engaging
OK, so now you’ve cut your content right down to the minimum amount of points. The next thing to do is to make the presentation more engaging. The last thing your audience wants is a load of slides with just a series of bullet points on each. I’m not suggesting you use lots of meaningless pictures and cartoons. However everyone loves some visuals so bring in graphs and diagrams to make points. A single video (no more) can add a lot but only if it is very relevant.
This can be a lot of effort but is really worth it. If you don’t have the PowerPoint skills yourself, use someone who does. You’ve gone to the bother of getting a room full of people together, it is so important now that you engage the audience fully. Oh and talk to your audience, not your slides!
4. Make sure everything works at the venue – perfectly!
Check out the venue beforehand and then on the day, get to the venue with loads of time to spare in case time is needed for any unforeseen problems. Nothing will damage your confidence and ultimately the delivery of your presentation more than rushing to try and sort out issues…. If possible, have someone there as a support to deal with any potential problems for you.
Is there enough parking nearby? Is the sound good enough in the room and are there enough chairs? What about the temperature in the room? Also, do a complete run through of the entire presentation with someone at the back of the room – not just the first few slides. Can they read the slides or is the typeface too small? Is the projector strong enough? Do all the links in the presentation work and will your video play properly? Once you see everything working perfectly, you will relax and can go and greet your guests.
5. Practice, practice, practice
I know, this is really obvious but so often ignored! The benefits of practice? Well first of all, the more prepared you are, the more confident you will be and the better your delivery will be! How many times have you finished a presentation and thought “I meant to say…… but just forgot”. This is less likely to happen if you practice. If you practice, you are more likely to stay on track in terms of the message and also your timings so you’ll probably finish the presentation stronger.
Finally spend some time thinking about the Q&A. What are the likely questions and how will you respond? What are the potential curveballs and how will you deal with them? How will you deal with any unexpected and very negative question – think how you’ll cut this off cleanly and quickly and enable yourself to move on. Listen to the news that day. If there’s a current and relevant story, develop a position on it. If you want an easy start to the Q&A, plant a question in the room to get the conversation going.