Tag Archive for: presentation tips

The Six Keys to Confident Presenting

Beverly Flaxington knows the investment and financial advice industry and she knows how clients and prospects think. I still remember how her explanation of personality types riveted the audience at a Boston Security Analysts Society presentation that I organized. I’m delighted to feature her advice below.

The Six Keys to Confident Presenting

By Beverly D. Flaxington


There are many very smart people in the investment business. It takes a lot of dedication, intelligence and discipline to obtain a CFA, or CFP or other investment industry
designation. Unfortunately when it comes to delivering the knowledge to others, many very smart people are sorely lacking in their ability to communicate effectively.

As a college professor I watch students struggle with this, and as a consultant and coach to the investment industry I watch advisors and portfolio managers, among others, struggle with this daily. It’s important to know how to communicate, and how to present because excellent information can get lost on the audience.

There are six keys to confident presenting to think about before the next presentation of any type, to one person or to many, you need to make:

(1)    Know why. Think about what you want as an outcome. Why are you delivering this material? Don’t just focus on content, think about purpose.

(2)    Know who. What is the make-up of your audience? What do they already know about what you are presenting? If you can research before the presentation, it’s great but even during the presentation ask for a show of hands of how many people know certain information. Or go around the room and ask what people know, and what they want to learn.

(3)    Create flow. This means chunking the information down. Have sections, or groups of material. Too many times a presentation is a mish-mash of all kinds of data, charts and background information. Look at your information for themes and categories.

(4)    Provide context. Adult-learning principles tell us that adults learn best when they can interpret information through a lens that they understand and recognize. Show the audience why they should care and the “so what?” about the material Don’t ask them to figure it out, make the link for them.

(5)    Understand your style of communication and that of your audience. Talk fast but your audience is more slow and thoughtful? Modify, and match to your audience.

(6)    Provide closure. What do you want the audience to do as a result of your presentation? What’s next from the meeting? What is the follow-up? State it. Get commitments.

Review your next communication in light of the six steps and see if there is anywhere you can improve for greater success.

Beverly is co-founder of The Collaborative and Advisors Trusted Advisor, consulting businesses devoted to the financial services industry. She is a human behavior expert, a college professor, an award winning and bestselling author and investment industry expert.


4 tips for reading your audience at conferences

When I prepared to speak at a Financial Planning Association national conference, the following quote caught my eye:

You don’t have good or bad audiences. You have audiences you read or you fail to read.

-Richard Hall, Brilliant presentations:
What the best presenters know, say and do

This made me think about how to read an audience.

4 tips for reading your conference audience infographic

1. Learn why your audience is there

Once you understand your audience, you can appeal to their hopes, fears, and dreams. I stress this in my writing advice, too.

When I’ve spoken to FPA audiences on “Writing Emails and Letters that People Will Read” people will be there partly for the CE credit, but also, more importantly, so they can connect better with clients and others.

Borrow a technique from me: Ask your audiences to fill out a brief survey before they attend your talk. Of course, this is most effective if participants must register and provide their contact information well in advance of your presentation.

On the other hand, today there are apps that let you poll a live in-person audience. Those polls, with results projected on-screen also help to keep your audience engaged.

2. Listen

Listen to members of your audience and what people tell you about your audience, including any sensitivities. Ignore this information, and you may offend. You’ll certainly fail to make the best possible impression.

You should also listen to what people say during your live presentation. During webinars, I often have a colleague monitor the chat for me.

3. Look

Look at your audience. Make eye contact. Assess what seems to resonate and what falls flat.

4. Ask questions

I’m a big fan of interactive presentations. When people participate, especially when they apply the information you present, they learn more. This also raises the positive energy in the room.

I have had great experiences with asking members of in-person presentations to break into groups of two or three to do an exercise to apply the lessons I’m teaching them. The level of the participants’ buzz helps me to understand how engaged they are.


Note: I updated this post in December 2022.