Presentations have become increasingly important marketing tools for top advisors — but they still strike fear into the hearts of many. At my firm, CEG Worldwide, we have been using both in-person and Web-based presentations successfully for years to reach out to our ideal prospective clients, and we now coach elite advisors on how to use them as well.

Of course, it’s not just about creating content, although that is important. You also have to get your message out into the marketplace and deliver it with confidence.

Here’s how you can conduct presentations that will demonstrate your expertise and credibility to affluent members of your target markets, connect you with audiences and inspire potential clients to work with you.


Before you can inspire investors with what you have to say, you have to get in front of them — and that means building a list of people to reach out to through your marketing campaign.

Often, advisors (and other professionals) may simply buy an email list. Don’t do it. Such lists are almost never well-matched to the prospects you are trying to reach.

Your goal is to emerge in the center of the community of investors you want to serve. So get everyone on your team to work together and create a master list of every relevant person who would be interested in attending your presentations: clients, prospective clients, current and potential strategic partners, and centers of influence.

You can also reach out to corporate organizations, affinity groups and the media about doing strategic partnerships — you deliver useful presentations to their constituents, and they provide you with contacts.

Email these prospective attendees, letting them know that you are hosting a complimentary presentation in which you’ll offer key strategies for making smart decisions about their wealth. List some of the key issues that you’ll discuss, and provide a link to sign up.

If you have written any white papers or e-books that are relevant to your audience, offer to send them a free copy for attending. Of course, ensure that all such communications are reviewed by your internal compliance department.

Think briefly about format, since different presentations may be suitable for different audiences. Webinars are appropriate in situations where travel is difficult. In-person presentations may require a longer lead time for invitations, as you’re asking people to commit to time away from their offices.


Once you have the audience, you must deliver a presentation that is interesting, clear and persuasive. Consider using the following six-part structure, which many financial advisors we work with have used to create effective hourlong events.

1. The welcome. Open your presentation by making attendees feel welcome and motivating them to stay around for the whole thing. Be warm and sincere, so they know you’re glad to have them join you. Attendees want to know right away what’s in it for them, so tease a few of the highlights. Spend five minutes or less on this.

2. Your credentials. Next, tell the attendees why they should listen to you. This part should take you two or three minutes. Don’t rattle off your experience and the great schools you’ve attended — every advisor possesses similar credentials. To really be compelling, tell your personal story — the events that caused you to care so deeply about helping people achieve their goals. By conveying your passion, you will impress and inspire
the audience.

3. The body. This is the meat and potatoes part of your presentation — the primary reason that people have shown up to listen to you. The specific issues you cover will depend on whom are you targeting, naturally. If you are trying to attract a certain niche, focus on that group’s specific financial challenges and offer solutions. If you’re presenting to a broader affluent audience, discuss some of the big concerns that today’s high-net-worth investors tend to face (such as asset protection, estate planning and tax reduction). This part of the presentation should take about 30 to 35 minutes.

4. The offer. This is the moment you have been building toward — your call to action for getting ideal prospects to meet with you. Encourage attendees to begin implementing solutions to their biggest challenges. And take a few minutes to explain that, in the coming days, you’ll offer a second-opinion service: You can assess their financial goals and values and determine how well their portfolios are currently positioned to achieve those goals and values. If they are in good shape and don’t need to change their course, you will promise to tell them so. If you see that they could improve their situations, you will offer to help them. Give them a phone number, email address or other way to follow up with you.

5. Q&A period. Attendees — just like clients — want to be given the opportunity to be heard. So open the floor to questions. This is easy for an in-person presentation, of course, but most webinar services also offer chat or audio capabilities so attendees can weigh in and ask questions. To help stimulate discussion, have a team member ready to submit questions that you’ve prepared in advance. Plan on spending about 10 minutes on this.

6. A strong close. Wrap up by reiterating the main points that you just covered and reminding the audience that you can help them solve their biggest financial challenges. Restate your passion for helping investors achieve their goals and wish attendees the best as they move forward. As with the introduction, speak with warmth and sincerity. This should be very short — just one or two minutes.


There are off-putting moves that can put a monkey wrench into an otherwise good presentation. Here are some things to avoid.

  • Don’t give a hard sell. Your main goals are to share information, show yourself to be an expert, and offer a second-opinion service to help audience members assess whether they are well positioned to achieve their own aims. Nothing will turn off the audience faster than a salesman encouraging them to buy, buy, buy.
  • Don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good. Some advisors will insist that every little element of a presentation be perfect before they go live — and they never conduct a single presentation. Your presentations don’t have to be flawless. If you are 80% happy with your presentation, then present it. Your audiences won’t be as critical as you might think they’ll be. If you deliver relevant information and good advice and then offer to evaluate their current situation, they will respond.
  • Don’t use prepackaged content. Ready-made presentations tend to be slick, generic and too focused on sales. They also don’t have your voice or your personal story — two key elements that will help you stand out. Remember, the affluent want to work with experts, so you need to position yourself as an expert who can inspire and guide them to success. That inspiration and expert positioning can come only from you — not from a box.
  • Don’t get discouraged. Confidence comes from practice. The best way to be great at presentations is to do them again and again. Our own first presentations were much less smooth, and less well-attended, than the ones we’re doing now. But we kept at them and they are now huge drivers of business for us. As you conduct more presentations, your ability to inspire attendees will grow and you’ll generate great results.

As with any effective marketing strategy, the right process is vital. It’s the time you spend on the prep work that ultimately gives you great results.
So take the time to find and invite the ideal prospective clients you want to present to, and then build a structure for your presentation that is sure to appeal to those prospects. If you do, I can assure you that presentations will soon become one of the most effective ways to ramp up your business.

John J. Bowen Jr., a Financial Planning columnist, is founder and CEO of CEG Worldwide, a global training, research and consulting firm for advisors in San Martin, Calif.

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