Making effective presentations to clients and prospects can be an excellent way to demonstrate your credibility as a financial advisor and build your business. To be effective, the content of your presentation must be interesting and relevant to your target audience.

“You must be able to engage your audience and deliver your message with confidence,” says Heather Holjevac, certified financial planner with TriDelta Partners in Oakville, Ont.

Adds Andrew Buntain, portfolio manager with Franklin Bissett Investment Management in Toronto: “Make your presentation memorable.”

Here are five ways to make effective presentations:

1. Know your audience
“Find out as much as possible about your audience prior to your presentation,” Buntain says.

While you may have your own agenda, Holjevac adds, you should determine what is important to the people you will be addressing. Consider such audience characteristics as demographic makeup, gender and age.

The level of sophistication among your audience members can vary widely, Buntain says. So, your presentation must be tailored in such a way that a novice can follow it, yet it will not be boring for a sophisticated investor.

2. Create a warm welcome message
The way you begin your presentation is key to establishing your credibility, Buntain says. Be warm and sincere; tell your listeners about yourself and share a couple of success stories. You might choose to tell them why you’re passionate about being an advisor.

To establish a connection and rapport with your audience, Holjevac says, you might start with a brief personal story. Or you might choose to talk about a topical issue of current interest. Your objective is to provide your audience with value and give them reason to stay for the entire presentation.

3. Get to the “meat and potatoes”
After your brief introduction, go straight into the content. Your story must be compelling and fascinating in order to hold the attention of your audience.

You might adjust your delivery style depending on the makeup of your audience. Regardless, make sure people understand what you’re saying and avoid jargon, Buntain says.

When explaining a process or a concept, use analogies — have a half-a-dozen or so in your arsenal. For example, you might liken the due-diligence process to a medical examination.

You will not need to get into complex details in a presentation, Holjevac says. You can arrange to follow up later with audience members who want more details.

4. Invite questions
You may prefer to address audience questions as you go through your presentation, or might ask audience members to save their queries for a question-and-answer session at the end of your talk.

Either way, addressing audience questions presents a great opportunity to clarify issues, ensure your audience understands what you are discussing and interact with your audience.

5. Close with a call to action
In closing, Buntain says, face the audience, make eye contact, recap what you talked about and ask whether the audience found the presentation interesting. Openly invite attendees to call your office for an appointment.

“Invite them to a one-on-one meeting,” Holjevac says, “which should be your goal.”