When’s the Last Time You Worked on (or Even Thought of) Your Delivery?

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If you’re a regular reader of our blog, you know that we like to cover topics that are relevant to financial services marketing and PR. Beyond content marketing and the media, as we’ve written about before, we work with many of our clients to train them for media appearances. But, the reality is that many of the tips and training exercises we share during media interview simulations are applicable whether you’re appearing on national television, speaking at a conference, or pitching yourself to a potential new client. Heck, if you’re still holding steak dinner seminars, they’ll even work during those.

If you’re sitting there saying to yourself, “Thanks, but I know how to present myself,” we would argue that even the most seasoned CNBC guest — who you’d think could give a presentation in her sleep — has something to gain by reexamining the messages she’s delivering, how they’re being delivered and her ability to connect with the audience. Chances are, you too are missing countless opportunities to engage prospects, partners and clients because you’re too comfortable in your (supposed) ability to communicate and present.

Craft a message and stick to it

Whether you’re on TV, the stage or in a meeting, you have a finite amount of time to get your message across. Clock’s ticking! Make sure that the time really counts. Before you begin, really think about the points you want to get across and what people want to hear. It’s important to step back and consider your audience, their wants and needs, and whether they match up with the messages you’re delivering.

For instance, you could be on CNBC 100 times and each time be asked about your expertise in stock investing. Still, you might not have once said something like, “Well, Kelly, I work with people who are preparing for or already in retirement, and income is on their mind every day, every hour. That’s why together we build portfolios that deliver income as well as the potential for growth.” See what happened there? In less than five seconds you just told a national audience what you do and who you serve.

The power of three

We’re all busy and quickly forget topics from a conversation we just had. This is important to recognize, because gaining and capturing someone’s attention is your best chance to convert them. Think about it this way: if you had 30 seconds with a wealthy prospect in your town, what three key points about yourself and your understanding of their position would you share? Whatever they may be, write them down on a card and commit them to memory. Review them often in front of the mirror, when talking to your partner, or even your dog. Have them in front of you if you’re conducting a prospecting call or during an interview (well, not a TV appearance!). Start and end the conversation with these three points. Make sure they cater to the pain points of your target audience and showcase the benefits of working with you.

Invest in preparation and mind your non-verbals

Before you start to worry about what you’re going to say, there are some important things to consider. First, know the venue. Is this a media appearance? Are you on-set? Staring into a camera while stuffed into a tiny dark room at a satellite studio downtown? Or, are you at a new business pitch? A board meeting? Talking to a roomful of retirees? A panel member at an industry conference? Will you be standing at a podium? Are you confident enough to work a stage? Simply put, the more you know about your surroundings, the better you can prepare yourself for the presentation.

Next, you’d be amazed by the number of advisors and money managers who have gone through our financial media training simulations who never realized that their body tells a story. As much as people will be paying attention to your words, they’ll also be (consciously or unconsciously) tuning in to the non-verbals you’re conveying. Here are six basic dos and don’ts to keep in mind:

  1. DO make eye contact. This conveys confidence and truthfulness.
  2. DON’T let your eyes shift back and forth. This sends a message that you’re nervous and possibly lying. (Did you see Tom Brady’s “Deflategate” press conference?)
  3. DO lean forward. This shows that you’re engaged and want to be closer to whomever you’re talking to. Remember Larry King on CNN? He was masterful at this.
  4. DON’T shift or sway in your seat. Fidgeting is distracting and makes you look nervous. (Did you click the Tom Brady link yet?)
  5. DO use hand gestures if it comes naturally to you. Done right, this can emphasize your points and offer viewers/the audience cues that what you’re saying matters.
  6. DON’T wave your hands wildly. A good rule of thumb is to keep your hands within the frame of your body. Use them to your advantage; don’t let them be a distraction.

Circling back on Tom, we’re certain that win or lose, after this weekend’s big game, he’ll be interviewed again and either appear cool and confident, or nervous and untruthful. Now that you’ve read this, we’re willing to bet you’ll be paying closer attention at his next press conference.

Editor’s Note: This post is a collaboration between Jimmy and another member of the GregoryFCA team, Jessica Attanasio.