The Five Elements that Separate Great Speakers from Boring Drones
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How are your speaking skills?
Can you command an audience? Are seminars and webinars part of your marketing plan? Are you booking at least 65% of the qualified seminar/webinar attendees into appointments?
In my 40 years in business psychology and as a business coach, I’ve rarely seen a financial advisor make more than $1 million a year without great speaking skills. Many advisors have good interpersonal skills.
But rarely do can they rivet and motivate an audience.
Many years ago, after speaking to 1,000 brokers in Las Vegas, the presenter’s topic following me was how to speak in front of groups. He jokingly said the number one fear among Americans is speaking in front of a group. The number two fear is dying.
Number three is dying while speaking in front of a group.
It’s no wonder that so few are willing to subject themselves to the risk of rejection from an audience. In fact, 25% of stage performers suffer anxiety disorder to the level of panic. But if you are willing to take the chance of presenting to large groups who could build your business, here are a few skills you need to possess.
The three traits of great speakers
1. Great speakers have great content
Many speakers present platitudes and concepts. But the best speakers give audiences ideas and tips they can use immediately.
2. Great speakers get audiences to participate
Most speakers stand in front of an audience and lecture. But the best presenters get engagement. The attendees are encouraged to raise their hands to answer questions, interact with other audience members, and even participate with a speaker on stage.
3. Great speakers are entertaining
The legendary Tonight Show host, Johnny Carson once said, “People will pay a lot more to be entertained than they will ever pay to be educated.” San Diego State University did a study that showed memory and retention increased by 83% when points were associated with humor or funny relevant stories.
When you think about your favorite speakers, didn’t they all display those three traits? My rule of thumb in presenting to any group is to engage attendees every five minutes. I will not only ask for hands to be raised, but also bring members up on stage to illustrate concepts. One of my favorite tactics is to walk in the middle of the audience and ask attendees to stand up while I ask them questions.
Not only do great speakers possess these traits, but they structure presentations in a way that is best received by an audience. There are five steps to every message you present. This sequence will help you in constructing any presentation for any group. In fact, it doesn’t matter whether you are speaking to a college class, a peer group, or to seniors for a seminar on Social Security. These steps will make any presentation better.
Here is a template that will work in any presentation. All you have to do is fill in the blanks:
Five steps to great presentations
1. Ask a rhetorical question and then pause for an answer
Instead of launching into a concept, ask the group first whether they are interested. This gains participation and whets their appetite to hear more. For example, “How many of you would like to increase the benefit you get from Social Security?”
2. Make your point
This is the place to present your concept. Answer the rhetorical question. For example, “You can take Social Security at 62 years old. But you will minimize your benefit for the rest of your life. At full retirement age, your Social Security benefit will be much more. But if you wait till 70, your benefit will be 8% more income per year until 70 than if you take it at full retirement age of around 66.”
While this example is only a placeholder, it’s also when to make your point.
3. Illustrate the point
Mention that most Social Security recipients apply for benefits at 62 while also minimizing their lifelong income. Fewer seniors apply at full retirement age, while a small number wait until 70. Mention that the full retirement age benefit breaks even at 83 years old. If the senior lives longer than that, they are better off waiting till 70 for a higher benefit. (If you are a Social Security expert, realize these are only examples of how to construct a presentation. Not a commentary on the facts of social security.)
4. Apply the point
Tell the audience how to make use of the points discussed. For example, you might say, “According to many gerontologists, you are likely to live 10 years longer than your parents because of medical advances and better lifestyle choices such as not smoking. If your parents passed at 83, you will probably live to be 93. In that case waiting until 70 to take Social Security benefits would likely earn more than $120K more than if you took it at 66.”
5. Tell a story
Facts tell, stories sell. The best speakers are also those who tell the best stories. These are personal anecdotes, your own experiences, or even your colleague’s examples that add emotion to the points you’re making. The only things that will be remembered when you leave the stage are your stories. For example, tell a story of a senior who was tempted to take Social Security 62 but waited till 70. Tell a story about one of your clients who kept working a few more years in a new career they never would’ve engaged in had they bailed out of the workforce. Tell a story about a couple who waited until 70 and then bought a vacation house with the extra money that Social Security provided.
These five steps are part of the sequence great presenters always use. Good speakers will present for about an hour and then take a break. Great presenters using these five steps capture an audience for up to 90 minutes.
Without these steps, you will lose an audience in less than 20 minutes.
There are far too many speakers who think they only have to present facts and concepts. In my new book, The Virtual Sale, I make the point that whether you are presenting a financial plan to a couple or to a thousand attendees during the virtual seminar, you must get participation, use humor, and give applicable concepts the audience can use right away.
None of my coaching clients in the last 40 years have made more than $1 million in fees or commissions without conducting seminars and presenting material brilliantly as great speakers. As you learn these skills, your income will also increase.
I would love to send you a free video, “The Five Steps to Great Presentations.” Write me at [email protected] or call 714-368-3650. We can spend a few minutes talking about your future presentations.
Dr. Kerry Johnson is “America’s Business Psychologist”. He is the best-selling author of 16 books and a frequent speaker at financial conferences around the world. Peak Performance Coaching, his one-on-one coaching program, promises to increase your business by 80% in 8 weeks. To see if you are a candidate for this fast track system, click on www.KerryJohnson.com/coaching and take a free evaluation test. You will learn about your strengths and what is holding you back. Or call, 714-368-3650 for more information.