I’ll never forget the time I failed epically as a public speaker.
It was for a special speaker audition. Our state library association was searching for event speakers, and I decided to apply, which was accepted.
I practiced my short presentation, which at the moment, I can’t remember the topic. Doesn’t matter. I bombed. I bombed hard.
To give you context, my major in college was Communication Arts. I gave presentations constantly. In addition, I have given speeches and presentations many times at my church, at conferences, professional group events, and more. I wasn’t a novice, but for some reason, I was tangled up the day I stood in front of a bunch of librarians.
It was so bad that after stumbling through the first few minutes, I stopped. I announced, “I’m going to start over.” Of course, this is an absolute “no-no” when it comes to giving a speech, but I didn’t care. I simply wanted to salvage what pieces I could from my tattered ego and walk… not crawl… off the stage.
Public speaking can be nerve-wracking for many, even for experienced professionals. However, despite my cringe-worthy introduction, the benefits of seeking speaking engagements can significantly outweigh the initial apprehension.
In this article, I’ll explain why financial advisors should embrace the opportunity to speak publicly, explore various types of speaking engagements, and address common fears associated with public speaking while offering practical solutions.
The Benefits of Seeking Speaking Engagements
Mastering the art of public speaking will deliver many benefits—some, unexpected. When you know how to stand in front of a group of people and communicate a message clearly and engagingly, there are several positive reactions going on inside your audience member’s brain. For instance, public speaking can:
Establish Authority and Credibility:
One of the primary benefits of speaking engagements for financial advisors is the ability to establish themselves as authorities in their field. When you stand before an audience and share your knowledge, you immediately convey your expertise and experience. This enhances your credibility, making it easier for potential clients to trust your financial advice.
Trust is the cornerstone of any financial advisory relationship. Speaking engagements provide a platform to connect with your audience on a personal level. As your listeners hear your insights and see your passion for helping them achieve their financial goals, trust is naturally fostered.
Provide Networking Opportunities:
Speaking engagements often put you in front of a diverse and influential audience. This opens doors to valuable networking opportunities with other professionals, potential clients, and even the media. These connections can lead to new clients and collaborations that can significantly benefit your practice.
Enhance Your Visibility:
Public speaking exposes you to a broader audience. You can leverage this visibility to attract new clients who are actively seeking financial advice. It also increases brand awareness and positions you as a recognizable figure in your field.
Educate and Empower Your Audience:
Beyond marketing yourself, speaking engagements allow you to educate and empower your audience. By sharing your knowledge, you help individuals make more informed financial decisions. This builds goodwill and may result in long-term client relationships.
The more frequently you give presentations, the more you will improve with each one. As you improve, your confidence will increase and you’ll carry that with you into every interaction you have with prospects, clients, and professional and personal relationships.
Types of Speaking Opportunities for Financial Advisors
Wondering where to start? You have a range of opportunities to choose from when seeking speaking engagements. Here are 5 potential areas to share your expertise with an interested audience:
1. Local Workshops and Seminars:
Hosting local workshops and seminars is an excellent way to engage with the community. These can be tailored to address specific financial topics, such as retirement planning, investment strategies, or estate planning.
2. Industry Conferences:
Speaking at financial industry conferences is an effective way to connect with peers and potential clients. It positions you as an expert in your field and can open doors to collaborations with other professionals.
3. Webinars and Online Presentations:
In the digital age, webinars and online presentations are increasingly popular. They allow you to reach a global audience, positioning you as a thought leader in the digital space.
4. Podcasts and Radio Shows:
Hosting your own podcast or appearing as a guest on established shows provides an opportunity to share your insights and reach a dedicated audience of listeners interested in finance and investments.
5. Teaching Opportunities:
Consider teaching financial courses at local colleges or adult education programs. This not only benefits your community but also establishes you as an educator and an authority in the field.
The best way to find out if there is an opportunity is to reach out to whoever is in charge of scheduling speakers or podcast guests. Make sure to clearly communicate how your expertise could benefit their audience. Many groups are searching for good speakers, so your query could come at just the right time. You never know unless you ask.
Overcoming Hesitation and Anxiety in Public Speaking
It’s natural to feel apprehensive about public speaking, but with practice and the right mindset, you can overcome these fears:
1. Preparation is Key:
Thoroughly prepare your material, know your subject inside out, and rehearse your presentation. The more confident you are in your content, the less anxiety you’ll experience. Creating an outline and speaking notes will help you stay on track with your topic.
2. Practice, Practice, Practice:
Rehearse in front of a mirror, record yourself, or present to friends or family to get constructive feedback. The more you practice, the more comfortable you’ll become. This is also beneficial when you’re given a time limit for your presentation. It could be 10, 15, or 30 minutes. It is crucial to deliver your presentation within your allotted time. Practicing your presentation will allow you to determine whether you need to delete parts of it or add to it.
3. Master Your Environment:
Arrive early at the speaking venue to familiarize yourself with the space. Test the equipment and become comfortable with the surroundings. You also will have the chance to meet members of the audience beforehand. Introducing yourself and learning a little about them will help you connect with the audience as a whole.
4. Focus on Your Message, Not Yourself:
Shift your focus away from self-doubt and anxiety by concentrating on the value of your message and how it can benefit your audience. There’s an old speaker’s trick. When you feel a little nervous, instead of looking directly at a few faces in the audience, look to the back of the room. It can help you focus.
5. Engage Your Audience:
Interact with your audience through questions, anecdotes, and relatable stories. Engaged audiences are more forgiving and less likely to focus on your nervousness. Beginning a question with “How many of you have…” is a great way to break the ice. When you agree that you also have shared the same experience or feeling, it causes the audience to identify with you and they’ll pay attention more closely.
6. Visualize Success:
Before you step onto the stage, visualize a successful presentation. Positive visualization can help reduce anxiety and boost your confidence. Another way to help you sound great is this: before going on stage or before the camera or microphone, stand to the side and pretend to yawn several times. This will relax your vocal cords. When you’re nervous, often that will cause your voice to become high-pitched and shallow. You want your voice to be warm, resonant, and soothing.
7. Seek Professional Guidance:
If your anxiety is overwhelming, consider enrolling in public speaking courses or working with a speaking coach. They can provide you with invaluable techniques and strategies to manage your fears. I highly recommend joining a Toastmasters Club chapter. They have helped thousands of people feel more comfortable with giving presentations. There are guided exercises that will help you improve your speaking skills, and everyone is supportive. Plus, you do get timed when you present, which is an excellent way to keep you on track.
Seeking speaking engagements is a powerful way for you to build authority, connect with potential clients, and leave a lasting impact. While it’s normal to feel apprehensive about public speaking, the benefits far outweigh the initial hesitation.
By embracing these opportunities and implementing strategies to overcome your fears, you can establish yourself as a trusted expert and propel your financial advisory career to new heights. It’s a win-win all around.