Deliver Successful Virtual Seminars

Delivering Successful Virtual Seminars

Published June 24th, 2020 in Blog |

In this virtual environment, advisors are having to adapt to delivering their services online. From short informational videos to live webinars and educational seminars, advisors need to prepare for success doing things in a new way.

In a recent episode of the Rainmaker Multiplier On-Demand Series, host Jason L Smith sits down with his own speaking coach, hall of fame speaker Joel Weldon, to guide advisors with tips and advice on how to be more effective in their virtual presentations. Joel, creator of Joel Weldon’s Ultimate Speaking System, provides some practical ideas and actionable steps to help you feel more confident and more excited about delivering your message online.

The New Normal

Times have changed. At least for now, there are no packed conference rooms or in-person meetings. Advisors are holding everything from reviews to conferences online. But with this change in our normal business environment, there are both clear and subtle differences to consider. These differences will influence how to present yourself and deliver your message to new and existing audiences.

Beginning from the speaker’s perspective, Joel outlines some of the more important differences that advisors need to think about. When doing a presentation in a virtual format, your connection to your audience is naturally more limited than it is in an in-person environment. Especially for large audiences, there can be an energy that’s lost over platforms like Zoom. In live, in-person sessions speakers are able to see and feel an audience’s responses to what they’re saying. Speakers can hear the laughter of the audience, see when people sit up to listen more closely to an important point, and just sense the general tone of the room. These are critical elements that are lost to some extent in a virtual meeting. In order to keep your expectations positive, these elements are something for which you need to prepare.

Distractions can be more pronounced in virtual meetings too. Joel refers to the three most common distractions as “The Three Ps:”

  • People
  • Phones
  • Pets

When you’re holding meetings in the office, there can be phones ringing in the background or people walking around. However, in virtual meetings you want to rid yourself of these distractions. Your connection with your audience is already altered by being online, so anything that can further distract from that connection should be eliminated.

Another major difference with delivering virtual presentations, especially larger ones, is varying arrival and departure times of your audience members. Online delivery formats make it easier for people to join sessions late or leave early. This means people can miss key points. When delivering virtual presentations, advisors should prepare for this and make sure to restate their most important message throughout the presentation. Joel refers to this as a “golden thread” – a sentence that summarizes your entire message and can be repeated throughout the presentation.

Audience Perspective

Changing perspective, there is a lot that is different for audience members attending virtual seminars now. Advisors should be aware of these differences in order to anticipate their audience’s needs in this new environment.

Typically, virtual seminars are free. Not all of them are, but when they are it is more likely to see a disparity between the number of registrants and the number of attendees who actually attend. Some registrants will watch the archived recording later instead of attending the live event, but you won’t see the same kind of turnout you would when people register and pay for live, in-person events. Online events, especially when they are free, require less of a commitment on the audience’s part.

Another thing to keep in mind is that even participants who do attend may be multitasking. Because they are less visible, studies show that many people will do other work, eat, or prepare food, or even shop online during virtually delivered seminars. People are also more likely to attend virtual events in casual clothing or even pajamas.

None of this should discourage speakers from delivering powerful and effective presentations. As with in-person events, speakers simply need to be aware of their audience and what their audience needs to hear. According to Joel, there are only three things that a presenter should ever plan to discuss:

  1. Something that meets the audience’s needs
  2. Something that helps them overcome their fears
  3. Something that reinforces their victories

If your content doesn’t connect with one of those three topics, it doesn’t matter how the attendees are dressed or what else they might be doing – you will have lost them anyhow.

How to Prepare

Whether you’re preparing for an online or in-person delivery of a presentation, some underlying principles remain the same. Joel outlines five steps advisors should always follow when preparing an effective speaking engagement:

  1. Define your audience: Ask yourself: “Who is my audience?” “Who are you trying to reach?” “Are they existing clients?” “Are they friends of clients?” “Are they a combination of clients and prospective clients joining this virtual presentation?”
  2. Determine your audience’s needs, fears, and victories: Once you know who your audience is, consider what is most important to them. What do they need to be doing that they’re not doing now? What worries or concerns them? What keeps them up at night? What are their victories or successes? How can I reinforce those victories or successes for them?
  3. Determine your golden thread: Based on the information gathered in the first two steps, what is your golden thread? What is the core message you want to reiterate to your audience? Make the golden thread very simple and clear.
  4. Determine your call to action: What are you going to ask your audience to do as a result of what they are hearing from you? Typically, this will be to make an appointment to meet you or attend an online call platform such as Zoom or Skype and continue the conversation to make it relevant to their specific situation.
  5. Decide on the content of your presentation: After you’ve gone through the first four steps, then you decide what you are going to discuss. Most financial advisors try to do this step first. They start with the message, however, the information you gather in the first four steps should determine the content that you use.

For virtual meetings, another informal step advisors can take is doing a practice run or even just running through the experience in your head. Don’t overthink it but try to imagine various scenarios and how to be prepared for them. Use your own experiences to ask yourself hypothetical questions like, “What if I can’t get a virtual background?” “What if my microphone stops working?” “What if my audience has technical difficulties?”

Don’t feel like you have to overprepare though. Joel points out that many of the same principles of in-person presenting still apply to virtual delivery of presentations. These include:

  • Having a clear picture of what you want to say, so you don’t have to rely on memorization
  • Making the presentation about the audience by changing I, me, and mine statements to yo and your statements and
  • Most importantly, be yourself

Conclusion

Especially in an online environment, advisors want to present who they really are. If you aren’t a great presenter, that’s fine. Don’t take yourself too seriously. Just be yourself.

Remember that the goal here is to create lasting connections with your audience that could turn into long-term client relationships. When people begin to engage in person again, the hope is that you will meet some of these people. You want them to see the same person they met online and feel like they already know who you are. As Joel summarizes his message in his own golden thread, “Speak to your audience about what they need, in an organized way they can follow, and get yourself out of the way.”

Following this advice, advisors should be on their way to delivering highly effective speeches and presentations, virtually or in person. For more advice like this, other practical tips, and information on Joel Weldon’s Ultimate Speaking System, listen to the podcast here.


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