All RIAs need a presentation that summarizes their value proposition, a five-minute firm-overview presentation. If you do not have a scripted presentation about your firm or have convinced yourself that you don’t need it scripted out, you’re fooling yourself. If your five-minute presentation is anything less than great, you're shortchanging yourself.
I’ve been a speaker at advisor events since 1996 and have moderated the Financial Advisor Webinar Series
weekly for the past five years. I’m a good writer but not a gifted speaker. However, whenever I take a few minutes before a presentation to write my ideas down in the "notes" section of my PowerPoint slides and use that as a script—rather than speak extemporaneously—my ideas are always expressed more cogently. Point is, I’m speaking from experience in giving you the ideas below about how to present your firm to prospects for the first time.
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Rewrite Your Script Every Time. If you allow yourself to believe that you are so familiar with your presentation that you do not need to prepare every time you meet with a new prospect, you are probably hurting yourself. Spending a few minutes refining your script before each presentation to each new prospect will make your presentations far more successful and more targeted to each prospect. The deliberate act of preparing and thinking about the presentation will improve your effectiveness.
Your Live Presentation. Live presentations need slides and a script. You can do this presentation live and in-person or on the phone while sharing your screen over the Web. I'm defining this to be really clear about the different ways you are presenting your pitch to prospects and how you can reuse the same information across diffferent media. Some people will be able to get your message one way and others will want to consume your ideas another way.
Graphics, Not Words. If the slides for your live presentation are filled with words, you’re doing this incorrectly. Slides should have text no smaller than 20 points, and preferably little of it. Using a 30- or 40-point font-size for headlines along with 18-point or 24-point text for subheads is good. Slides should not have complete sentences. Just shorthand language. Bullet points three or four words in length. (Like the previous three sentences.) And even this terse text should be sparse. In addition, large pictures should accompany your text. Choose graphics that tell a story. If you’re speaking about the estate tax exemption jumping to $10 million, for example, then use a picture of a senior-citizen couple toasting to champagne, or maybe you can find a picture of older people jumping in the air in celebration. A funny or surprising image is best. Your words can be serious while your graphics are humorous. It's best to use simple graphics to illustrate financial concepts. If you are telling people they must choose between a Roth IRA and traditional IRA, a graphic with a scale could work. While you are speaking in detail about the choice between traditional and Roth IRAs, for example, your audience sees a graphic that explains the words you are speaking. A graphic can make a complex financial concept easier to understand. This way of communicating is better than displaying text on slides and spelling out a concept word-for-word. If you’re just reading text off your slides, you’re not using the graphical nature of a slide show correctly. That's why TV is such a great and "hot" medium. So don’t create slides that you will read. No one wants to listen to you read your slides. It took me about 10 minutes to use clip art in Microsoft Office to make the IRA graphic shown above. It took me years of making presentations to do it well.
Your Live In-Person Presentations To Prospects.
Most in-person presentations will probably be made in your office. Ideally, you have the latest technology for making presentations there. That means your prospect is viewing your presentation on a big-screen TV that is connected to your computer. Even though you are in the same room as the prospect, it’s best to use Presenter View
in Microsoft PowerPoint to deliver live presentations. Presenter View means your clients see your slides full-screen on a big screen, while you are looking at the slides on your computer. In Presenter View, while your prospects see your slides in full-screen mode one one monitor, you see your notes as well as your slides on another monitor that only you can see. So if you have a highly graphical presentation, the prospects are viewing the graphics illustrating your presentation while you are scanning detailed notes. To display your presentation on your computer monitor and simultaneously on a big-screen high-definition TV, you will need cable with a male HDMI plug on one end and a male display-port or HDMI male plug on the other end. Check your computer monitor to see if you have a display port cable or HDMI cable. Instead of a cable you can also display your computer screen on an HDTV using Google Chromecast.
Using this equipment ensures you’ll be displaying your computer monitor at a 1280 x 1080 resolution, which is standard now for 60-inch HDTVs that cost about $750 to $1000
and on good computer monitors that cost about $600
(also see this Dell
). If you want to really do it right, consider a touch-screen monitor
for an additional $250 or an all-in-one computer/monitor with an Ultra-High Definition (2560x 1440p) Touchscreen Monitor for an additional $500
, depending on the power of the computer you need.
Your Live Online Presentation.
All of the information above also applies to creating a presentation that you will give online as well as to a live in-person presentation. Many people won’t take the time to come to meet you in person until you have had a brief phone conversation. If you are speaking with prospects over the phone, then you’ll want to use a screen sharing application to remotely provide your firm’s overview presentation. There are a lot of online screen-sharing applications, like Webex and GoToMeeting. A free one that is easier to use than Webex or GoToMeeting is Join.Me
. And don’t tell me your prospects are in their 60s and 70s and older and can't do online meetings. Even older people with minimal tech skills can navigate a browser to Join.me, input a meeting number you read to them over the phone, and click “enter.” It is that easy. Use Presenter View so that you share the monitor your prospects are viewing in full-screen mode and display your notes with your slides on a second monitor. You’re using the same version of a presentation to do online screen sharing that you would be using if the prospect was in the same room with you. The only difference is you're on the phone and sharing your screen over the Web.
A 24/7 Version Of Your Firm-Overview Presentation.
The second version of your firm overview presentation is a video. The video should last on or two minutes and distill your live presentation down to its three or four main points. If you know how to use a video editing program like Camtasia Studio
, you can create this video yourself. Simply record an online delivery of the presentation using Join.me, Camtasia Recorder, or some other screen-capturing software. Then edit it down to two or three minutes. If you need help with video editing, Camtasia offers a marketplace of video editors you can hire. (My company, Advisor Products, can also do video editing work for you.) Just pick three snippets from a five- or 10-minute presentation about your firm, noting the beginning and end of segments you want to incorporate into the two-minute version. (You may need to convert the video before you can edit it, and you can use this free open-source transcoder
.) That video makes you available to tell prospects about your firm 24/7. Your firm-overview video should be posted your website and be open for anyone to see. It is a very important marketing component for any RIA, but I'd bet that less than 3% or 4% of RIAs have a great firm-overview video on their website. The closest thing are the eMoney videos (including one narrated by Donald Sutherland). Those are very well done but they do not explain your investment philosophy and unique abilities and do not target local clients. Alongside the firm-overview video, post special reports about your specialties and financial planning topics and make those reports and videos available to prospects only if they submit their contact information. That gives you a lead-generation funnel