Becoming a Super Effective Speaker


I have been a professional speaker since 1972. I have read books about speaking, listened to tapes, watched great speakers, and most significantly, been forced to improve my speaking abilities or not be able to feed my family. In December of 2002 I gave my first annuity seminar in West Des Moines, Iowa. I had 26 people in the room and 16 buying units. I was able to obtain 12 appointments from that very first seminar. My mentor in the business could not believe that I could achieve those results in my first presentation. He knew that I had never given the presentation before and never sold an annuity in my life.

Is it because I am a born speaker? I don't think so! I almost threw up the first time I had to speak in front of an audience and was so nervous I almost did not leave the bathroom. By the time I was done with that first presentation I couldn't wait to get home. I took off my sport coat and peeled off my sopping wet shirt. I was so scared that I was literally drenched with perspiration. Now at 54 years old I can't wait to get in front of my audience. It becomes an addiction when you learn a few basic principles that I will share with you in this article. I will also give you the most important piece of advice about speaking and improving your performance at your seminars that you will ever hear.

The first thing you have to do is get very comfortable with the material you are presenting. Most agents will not have a problem with this because they are probably in the business and are very familiar with the material.

The next issue is gearing your material to the audience. You are going to have a wide diversity of experience and knowledge in your audience. Keep it simple and keep it interesting. And keep it fun! I find that humor is an absolute key ingredient in these seminars. They want to be entertained and have fun while they hopefully learn something of value. I tweaked and tweaked my seminar until I had the perfect blend of knowledge and humor. We want them to appreciate the knowledge we have given them, but they must feel that we are exceptionally competent and knowledgeable or they will not make an appointment with us. They will never make an appointment with us if they don't like us! Humor and warmth will be more important than the content!

If they do not like you as a person they will probably not make an appointment, and even if they do, they will not buy from you. So keep it simple, have a lot of humor, handle questions with grace and patience, and make them feel that all their questions are valuable and that there is no such thing as a stupid question. For an experienced speaker I recommend taking questions throughout the presentation.

Now for the most important piece of knowledge that I can share with you to make you the most effective speaker you can possibly be. You must videotape your presentations and review the presentation every time you speak for the first 5 or 6 times you give a new presentation. If you are speaking every week you may only have time to view a tape once a month, but the more you do it the better you will get. I don't care how long you have been speaking. Just watch yourself and take notes on what you need to do to improve your performance the next time you speak. You will not believe how quickly you will improve! I don't care how busy you get; you need to do this at least once a month. If you do, you will continue to increase your appointment percentages and increase your closing percentages. As every experienced producer knows, you start the close at the beginning of the seminar!

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