Emma Bannister is the CEO of Presentation Studio - a presentation communication agency - and author of the book ‘Visual Thinking: How to
transform the way you think, communicate and influence with presentations.’
Are poor presentations costing you clients or business? Here are four tips for improving your client presentations.
A powerful presentation is our most critical tool in financial planning today. We use them to build buy-in with our team members, to communicate our big ideas to clients and connect with stakeholders to inspire them into action.
Yet the majority of the time, our presentations are bland, full of numbers and data, and the only impact they have is to get people running for the doors – if they haven’t already fallen asleep in their seats!
Our important and urgent messages are hidden in badly designed slides, complex paragraphs of information, and screens of bullet points that have no clear purpose or call to action.
Bad presentations can cost you clients.
While you may not be able to magically transform a poor presentation into a powerful one overnight, to truly educate, energise and inspire your clients, then the following are some small changes you can start with.
1. Present, not report
One of the biggest mistakes we make – especially in the financial services sector – is to try and present a report. There is a big difference between the two.
A presentation supports you and what you are saying. The slides are designed to help clients understand and remember. You use visuals to evoke emotion, infographics to simplify data and diagrams to explain a process. If you were to print out a presentation, it would contain only key points and visuals.
A report, on the other hand, is a standalone document that has lots of information – facts, stats, data and graphs. This document can be read on its own like a magazine or brochure.
If you present your report on screen, your clients will be confused with the small text and lack of focus. It is a distraction while you are speaking. You’ll start to see heads lolling and eyes scrolling iPhones.
So, if you’ve got lots of supporting information and data, leave it out of your presentation and provide it in the report document that everyone can refer to later.
2. Share the insights, not the data
Sure, numbers, stats and facts add credibility to your arguments, but it’s important not to drown out your main message with this stuff, which can be very dense and hard to understand. When we do this, we completely lose our clients – especially if it’s a client who doesn’t work with this stuff on a day-to-day basis.
Be clear on how whatever numbers you are showing are relevant to your clients. For any other information that doesn’t support the main message, supply a follow-up document.
If you usually use graphs and charts in your presentations, try using a few key infographics and visuals, like photos, instead. The aim is to support what you are saying, rather than just repeat it.
3. Make it emotional
I know, in finance we’ve traditionally been taught to do the opposite, to just present the facts. But these days, the best presenters are those who can use a combination of facts and emotion to explain a future place that everyone wants to work towards.
Remember, people buy from people they like. We buy based on how we feel about something – or someone. It’s your passion and authenticity that will help you to bond with your audience. Images and words, even video, that paint a picture or emotion like happiness or sadness can help your cause.
That emotional pull is what will impact their decision to ‘buy in’ to what you are saying.
4. Be honest
It’s important not to try and hide or cover up negative information or numbers. Nothing turns people off more than when you fudge the truth about a client or company’s financial position, even if you think it’s in their best interest.
Be future focused and take ownership of the problem. Explain the steps you’re implementing to turn things around to minimise loss, and how your organisation can help with this too.
You need to be open and honest about the current situation, and what is involved in the journey to get to the desired outcome – together.
Bad slides and presentations are used like a security blanket to hide things under. So, start with small changes to your content and attitude, and stop hiding and hoping for the best.
When you do this, you’ll stop putting together poor presentations that cost business and start presenting powerful ones that transform into real results.