How to give a compelling financial services presentation

Woman giving financial services presentation

Mark Newton

Managing Director

Posted on January 14, 2015

‘Several hundred million copies of Microsoft PowerPoint were turning out trillions of slides each year,’ says design guru Edward Tufte, but ‘alas, slideware often reduces the analytical quality of presentations’.

If you are giving a financial services presentation to a professional audience, you can’t afford to get it wrong. A good quality presentation is an indicator of a good quality product and a good quality firm behind it.

So here are our tips for pitching your products and services to financial services professionals.

  • Be clear. Focus on the essential information you want your audience to take-away from the presentation.
  • Be logical. Consider using Barbara Minto’sPyramid Principle’ to structure a persuasive argument.
  • Say less. Prioritise the key points. Remember Steve Jobs’s simple Tweet-like slides?
  • Design carefully. Keep slides on brand, uncluttered and visually appealing. Less is more.
  • Use data well. Be careful your use of statistical charts and graphs doesn’t distract your audience from hearing your message. Of course they’ll want specific details, but present only the key points visually and share the details on paper or online. A well-crafted infographic can be worth a thousand numbers in a boring table.
  • Give sources. Keep all stats timely. Out-dated statistical information and unsourced data diminish your credibility. If possible attach a narrative to the numbers, with explicit examples. Doing so improves the audience’s connection to their meaning.
  • Get the tech right. Do a technical rehearsal. Remember to bring the right adaptors. Give yourself time to get everything working before your scheduled start time.
  • 10/20/30. Guy Kawasaki (who has seen more presentations than most people) recommends the 10/20/30 rule: 10 slides, 20 minutes, 30-point font minimum.
  • Interact. Don’t drone on. Stop and ask questions from time to time. Do straw polls. Watch for inattention and change your style as required. Encourage questions and audience participation to develop further their understanding of the financial services you’re presenting them.
  • Rehearse. You don’t need to learn your presentation by heart or write it out word for word but you should know what you want to say for each slide and you should have the facts at your fingertips so that your presentation runs smoothly and you look and feel confident.
  • Don’t read out the text. Your slides should reinforce your speech, not the other way around. Don’t read out the words on the slides.
  • Make eye contact. While presenting important financial data, make an effort to connect with your audience. Making eye contact lets people know you’re speaking to them; talk directly with them when you can, rather than above their heads or to the floor below.
  • Use customer language. Address your audience’s needs and problems using their language not your own.
  • Don’t overstate your case.  Use well-documented examples they can relate to and encourage feedback. If it’s their business you want, your objective should be to maintain their attention and encourage them to continue the conversation after the presentation is over.
  • Use the right tools. Check out our article about PowerPoint, Keynote and Prezi.
  • Don’t be evil. Presentations have the power to enlighten, entertain and engage. Or you can waste everyone’s time with meaningless slides, shoddy thinking and banality. They say that villains get the best lines, but as Garr Reynolds shows, when Darth Vader adopts PowerPoint it all gets a bit dull.

We’d love to talk to you about ways to make your presentations more powerful with our financial services design experience. Contact us for a free consultation.