When it comes to workshops and seminars, everything matters. And I do mean everything. Too many times financial professionals think that if they just show up and dazzle people with their intelligence, then those in attendance will want to meet with them. Unfortunately, that could not be further from the truth...
Again, everything matters. Here are the top 3 mistakes that financial professionals make when attempting to conduct a meaningful workshop or seminar.
Mistake #1: Failing to practice
That’s right, practice. Until you have given your presentation 50 times, you aren't ready for prime time. You must know your material so well that the bulb on your projector could go out and you could just move over to a flip chart and continue without missing a beat.
To prepare, first write out your presentation word-for-word to read aloud. Then cut that script back to just a bulleted list and rehearse again. Finally, trim your presentation down to just a few keywords that will trigger what you'll talk about.
Which leads to Mistake #1 ½ : Putting all your speaking notes on the slides in a PowerPoint presentation
Your slides are visual notecards that capture main ideas, not complete thoughts. If you put everything on the slide, your audience will be reading that (and so will you) versus listening to you. Leave plenty of white space on the slide so that your core messages are the focus, not the clutter of too many words. Your notes can go in the script section of the PowerPoint, but even then, you don't want to be reading straight from that.
You may even want to branch out from the traditional PowerPoint presentation and try using a whiteboard or flipchart instead. It could be more effective at keeping your audience's attention.
When running through your presentation, practice first in front of a mirror first, record it to listen for any "ums" and "ahs," etc. and then move on to giving it in front of a small group to get constructive feedback, if possible. This will help you give the best presentation you can when you're in front of your target audience.
NOT doing this preparation ahead of time can lead to forgetting what you want to say, no logical flow making it hard for the listener to follow or relying too heavily on notes, which can take away from your connection with the audience.
Mistake #2: Missing a call to action
Many financial professionals think they'll just impress the attendees and this alone will cause prospects to line up to meet with them. In reality, this doesn't happen ... ever. If we're going to be honest, many times prospects aren’t coming to the event to get your information … rather, they are coming for the free food you're providing. Not what you want to hear, I get it.
But with that said, if they didn’t come for your steak, then you wouldn't have the opportunity to deliver your message at all. So use this opportunity wisely.
Without providing a clear next step for the audience to take, such as setting a no-obligation consultative visit, then they may instead choose to take action by seeking out another financial professional.
Any effective marketing message needs to have a clear call-to-action... it might seem like they should know what to do next, but why leave that up to chance? Walk them through making this simple, immediate decision. We have producers who use a powerful closing technique that creates a natural progression into setting up an appointment.
Mistake #3: Lack of stories
Storytelling is one of the most important aspects to conducting a meaningful seminar. Too many times, financial professionals feel they must talk about all the bells, all the whistles, and all the moving parts of a product they are pitching. If you are presenting based on product that would be an additional mistake.
Storytelling is the glue that ties all of the data, statistics, and dry, cold topic material together. It is also the only way you can take the attendees by the hand and walk them down the path to the desired effect or action -- by helping them to see themselves in the story.
A good storyteller will bring high level content down to the real world, practical level that allows an audience to understand as well as emotionally connect with the subject matter. We like to use a story "formula" which helps compel a listener to action.
The products and their features and benefits are not designed to promise a specific emotional state because it's intellectually-based. To have a chance at eliciting an emotional response, you have to tell a story. Without stories, specific to your presentation, it's hard to stand out and be different than the next financial professional giving an educational workshop. Storytelling is a valuable way to differentiate the content you're sharing.
Prospecting through workshops and seminars is an important aspect of your business, however, what's even more important is converting those leads into clients who place more business with you and provide more and higher-quality referrals.
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