Every Advisor Needs Their Own TED Talk
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What if you rid your presentations of financial jargon, history lessons of the markets and the dreaded PowerPoint slides?
You can become a client-attraction magnet with a simple, 18-minute talk.
You have probably heard of the “TED talk” phenomenon, but are likely unsure how it applies to financial advisors.
The format that launched 1.5 million YouTube views daily
Ted is not a guy who hosts great speeches.
TED talks were not founded by Ted Turner, Ted Kennedy, or Teddy Roosevelt, although each of these 20th Century luminaries could deliver a powerful, moving speech.
In fact, the TED talk concept was started by a Silicon Valley architect who hosted a dinner party that was billed as an anti-conference.
TED stands for technology, education and design.
The early TED conferences brought together experts in different domains who were passionate about their topics. The mantra was no boring Power Points or one-hour lectures. There were no scripted presentations, just brilliant people taking the stage to talk about things that fascinated them.
In its early days the TED conference actually floundered… until it adopted the format that we know today. It is 18 minutes, supposedly the limit of the human attention span and highly-scripted.
A brilliant but introverted lab scientist could deliver the most powerful presentation to 1,400 TED conference attendees and a worldwide audience online.
One of the most popular TED talks ever was delivered by Susan Cain, perhaps the world's most famous introvert.
The secret sauce behind a great TED talk
In a recent Harvard Business Review article, current TED Talk impresario Chris Anderson outlined the process for creating an unforgettable TED talk.
It begins months before the conference with what Anderson calls "framing the story," which means outlining a concrete beginning and end of the narrative.
Frame your story as a personal journey of discovery.
A successful talk should feel like a "little miracle," changing your audience's perspective on a part of the world.
Rather than trying to cover everything, focus on one specific issue and give examples from your personal experience.
Don't read a script – memorize your talk. Put key talking points on note cards if you are concerned about forgetting something.
Make frequent eye contact. Pick five to seven friendly-looking people in different parts of the audience and look at them as you speak.
Don't move around too much. Stand still and use hand gestures when emphasizing a point.
Use visual aids only to demonstrate highly visual concepts that cannot be easily explained.
Rehearse by delivering your talk at smaller gatherings before the big day arrives.
With preparation, even the most nervous or uninspiring speakers can give a dynamic performance.
Creating your own TED talk
Let’s look at the case of an advisor client of mine who applied the TED model to his boring, ineffective investment presentations and became a client attraction magnet.
When I met him, he was doing a lot of technically-oriented investment presentations and promoting them heavily but getting only 20 people to attend (and garnering no clients) from the average talk.
In more colorful language, he told me, “Presentations don’t work to add new advisory clients.”
I said, “Ok, I understand your results have been discouraging, but have you heard of TED talks?”
He said, “Of course, I’ve watched a bunch on YouTube, but they don’t have anything to do with an advisor’s investment presentation!”
I said, “If you are willing to try, there is a way to take your content and create a TED-style talk for your practice.”
He remained skeptical as to whether the results would be different to his previous marketing talks.
He felt like his presentation had nowhere to go but up and but agreed to try something different.
We re-designed his presentation using the TED talk model and simplified its focus on making the case for his investing philosophy.
For example, his old slides were filled with historical charts, trend lines, and lots of bullets in small text. Some slides contained as many as four charts!
His new slides had one key visual per slide and we avoided charts altogether unless they were essential to the story.
It was not so much about creating new material as it was stripping-down his narrative and visuals to the essence of his investing philosophy so the audience did not need a degree in economics or business to grasp the concept and decide if it was a viable option for the long-term.
He framed the story as his personal journey of discovery of an investment strategy that could be adopted by the mass affluent individual investor.
The advisor embraced the process of creating this new talk and had fun with it.
He owned and polished it, even trying it out by buying lunch for offices in his building and testing out his new pitch while they munched on free sandwiches and chips.
The talk built to a “big-finish” where he gave his audience the option of hiring his firm to manage their money.
Because the story became much more compelling, we were also able to better promote it and generated 187 registrants for his presentation, an amazing nine-times his average attendance.
Within seven days of delivering the new talk, he had $3 million in assets in the sales pipeline and lots of other leads and sales conversations.
And, we had a video of the presentation he could use in his practice, potentially for years to come.
Channel your inner TED for fun and profit
You might not be preparing for the main TED stage, but like it or not, you’re being compared to TED.
Your audience will respond to being inspired, engaged, and entertained.
On the flipside, a boring lecture on economics, a ponderous history of the markets, or a deep dive into the minutiae of estate planning will put your attendees to sleep.
Adopt some of the TED talk strategies to your presentations and watch your results soar!
Bob Hanson is the co-author of Marketing Power for Financial Advisors. I have summarized what works and what does not in advisor TED talks in a new presentation checklist, 11 Ways Any Advisor Can Attract Clients like a Magnet. Access it here.