10 Tips For Becoming A Public Speaker Who Can Talk About Money

by drjim on October 15, 2008

It Can Be Hard To Do A Good Job Talking About Money

It Can Be Hard To Do A Good Job Talking About Money

Money – it’s a love / hate thing. We all would like to have lots of the stuff; however, most people (us included) would probably rather lose a finger than have to sit though yet another incredibly boring presentation about the green stuff. Why is this? It’s actually pretty easy to understand what’s wrong with most presentations about money: it is presented in a boring way, the PowerPoint slides that are used are crammed with numbers that are way too small for any human to be able to read, and the presenter often uses vocabulary that we don’t understand. What can be done to fix this?

We already know that one of the most effective ways to deliver a presentation that will “stick” with your audience is to tell them a compelling story. A presentation about money should be no different – it’s the story that you tell that will get your point across. Keeping that in mind, here are some tips that will make your next presentation on money unforgettable:

  1. K.I.S.S: No, not the rock group, but rather Keep It Simple Stupid. In other words, whenever you talk about money there can be the tendency to say too much. DON’T DO IT! Instead, before you create your speech write out a single sentence that contains the message that you want your audience to walk away with. Then, when you are describing some financial tool re-read this sentence and determine if what you are talking about supports it. If not, then drop it and move on.
  2. Come Early, Leave Late: This is just a basic speaker tip; however, it’s even more important when you are talking about money. Making sure that you don’t have to worry about your equipment or the room gives you more time to focus on what you are going to be saying. Not having to run out at the end means that you can provide more detail for those who really want it.
  3. Bring A Partner To Help – Mr. Handout: Since much of what you may be talking about can be (a) complex and (b) detailed, this is one speech that you do want to provide a handout for. However, don’t do what too many speakers do and just give everyone a copy of your slides. Instead, create a special handout that provides detailed information about things that you didn’t have time to cover.
  4. Careful About Colors: Since so much of what is shown in any presentation on money is charts, you need to carefully check your colors. Stay away from the common color-blindness colors and make sure that all of your text is readable from the back of the room.
  5. Shut Her Down When You Don’t Need Her: All too often an audience in a talk about money can start to pay more attention to the slides than the speaker. One way to put a stop to this is to either turn off the projector every so often or, even better yet, put a completely black slide into your deck when you want all eyes on  you. It’s startling and it works really well.
  6. Do The Dark / Light Thing: Making your PowerPoint slides readable is critical. One way to help this happen is to make sure that the contrast between your slides’ background color and the foreground colors is very distinct. For a large room, I’ve found that making your slide background dark while making your text and drawings light colored makes everything readable even from the back of the room.
  7. Turn Off The Hollywood Effects: PowerPoint and other presentation applications allow you to go wild on how one slide goes away and the next one shows up – transitions. Here’s a suggestion : don’t. Either pick one transition and use it throughout your presentation or only vary the transition when you really want to draw attention to the new slide. Otherwise you risk training your audience to look forward to your next transition and not what you are saying.
  8. Don’t Create A Fighter Pilot Eye Exam: I can’t tell you just how important this one is – make sure that you keep your font selections to a minimum and make sure that all text is large enough to be read. I like to choose “sans serf” fonts because they don’t have the loopy stuff and are generally easier to read. I’ve also found that the 18 pt font size is the smallest that you want to use, otherwise it just gets too hard to read.
  9. Remember What A Picture Is Worth: Instead of trying to overwhelm your audience with words that describe technical financial terms, instead try to use more charts and graphs. Displaying a chart and then talking about it gives your audience time to apply your words to real situations and promotes understanding and retention.
  10. Remember That Only 5 lbs. Will Fit In A 5 lbs. Bag: Avoid the #1 sin of public speakers who talk about money – putting too much information on a single slide. We can fall in love with the way that we describe something and we like to add more and more details to it. However, take a moment and think about your poor audience. Try to present just the bare minimum amount of information that they need on each slide.

By following these simple tips you can create a powerful presentation that makes an impression on your audience and leaves them with the thoughts and ideas that you want them to have.

Have you ever given a presentation that talked about money? How did it turn out – was it well received or did your audience go to sleep after your second slide? What made your presentation work / not work? What did you think about the last financial presentation that you went to – did the speaker follow these tips or did he/she make you want to leave? Leave me a comment and let me know what you are thinking.

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{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

john kelly July 4, 2009 at 1:19 pm

Hi Jim,
As with other presentations it is always good to open with what the audience is concerned about, interested in, why they are there, what key issues/questions they have?
Usually easy to harmonize/spin with the very same material you have prepared. We all seem to have common concerns. Good way to help them get engaged.
Thanx for your fine materials.
My best, John

Reply

Dr. Jim Anderson July 9, 2009 at 9:30 pm

John: a very good point. I guess that even when you are speaking about a “universal” topic like money, your introduction is the key to delivering a great speech…!

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