It’s said that moving house, divorce and job interviews are three of the most stressful things you can do in life. While there is no doubting this, for those who have done it, giving a best man’s speech is probably up there too.
The thought came to me recently when my cousin got married, which reminded me of the terror I felt nearly 25 years ago when I got to my feet to give a best man’s speech. I don’t remember much about delivering it, or indeed the meal before, other than the rising feeling of nausea as the time for me to stand up and speak got closer.
Of course, if you’ve delivered a speech of any kind, you may be familiar with the fear that can come with public speaking. According to statistics, 75% of people say they are anxious about talking in front of an audience, and yet it can be one of the most effective ways of promoting yourself and your business.
For financial planners, arranging an event and acting as key speaker can be a hugely effective way of attracting new clients. It allows you to be seen as an expert, which could create new business opportunities and brand recognition.
If anxiety around public speaking is stopping you though, there is some good news, as there are several simple steps you can take to help you give an award-winning presentation. One of these is to write a speech that engages, entertains, and informs the audience.
Having a well written speech can help boost your confidence when you start speaking, as you know exactly what you want to say and how to say it. So, with this in mind, discover three simple tips on how to write a speech that will impress audiences, and help generate business.
1. Give yourself plenty of time to write it
During my career, I have watched CEOs pen their speech on the way to a public event, and high-ranking directors try to “wing it” in front of audiences. It will come as no surprise to learn that on both occasions it ended in a disaster, and ultimately damaged the reputation of the speakers.
Worse still, they snatched defeat from the jaws of victory, as their incoherence and verbal stumbling meant they came across as unprofessional and disorganised. Instead of generating new business opportunities, those attending shook their heads while listening and then gave the speakers a wide berth during the coffee break.
In the busy world of financial planning, making time in your diary to write a speech may seem like a luxury you don’t have time for. In fact, it could be an extremely shrewd investment, as it will help ensure that your message is delivered in an engaging and authoritative way, which will boost your reputation and bring in potential business.
2. Make your speech topical
Consider news events that you can use to bring your speech to life. Even better, keep an eye open for the more bizarre and amusing events, as this will provide an opportunity for humour that could help you connect more quickly with your audience.
While the world of finances may be fascinating for those within it, to the wider public it’s often seen as complicated and, all too often, a little boring. Bringing your subject matter to life using recent and humorous events will ensure you’re seen as someone who communicates complex information in an understandable way.
This will increase the chances of those in the audience wanting to talk further.
3. Provide examples through stories
The aim of your speech is to provide enough information for the listeners to say to themselves: “I’d like to know more” or “I want to benefit from that too”. Only then will they ask for a follow-up meeting with you.
An effective way of doing this is to introduce the issue or problem you’re discussing using a short story. While you cannot divulge sensitive data, providing an example of something you have helped others with through the medium of a story, could help the audience relate to the problem and ask for your help.
If your event is about pensions, for example, you might want to tell the story of a client who came to you thinking they could enjoy the lifestyle they wanted, but when you checked, they couldn’t. You could explain what a shock that was to the client, although now, thanks to your help, the client is enjoying the type of retirement they dreamed of.
Don’t explain how you did it, just the end result for the clients, and maybe the fact that they now send you postcards from various parts of the world whenever they take one of their many holidays.
Practise your speech, then practise again – and again and again
The best way to ensure your well-written speech turns into potential business is to deliver it like a professional. Ask any professional how they achieve the perfect delivery and they’re likely to tell you in one word: practise.
This will help ensure you do not lose your way halfway through reading your script, and if you practise to the point that you know it off by heart, you can maintain eye contact with those listening. This always helps engage those in the audience, again increasing the chances of generating potential future business.
The key here is not to practise once or twice, it’s to practise over and over again. When you get to the point where you really can’t face practising it again, you’re probably halfway there.
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