The average human attention span is shorter than that of a goldfish.
You read that right.
While a goldfish can stay focused for 9 seconds, most people can hang in there for just 8 seconds.
So I ask you, if your seminar audience is going to tune out before you’ve finished your first sentence, how can you possibly hope to set more appointments during your seminars?
Hint: Let me tell you a story based on one advisor’s success.
Storytelling is the #1 Strategy for High-Converting Seminars
When we asked Advisorist member Marc Geels to explain his seminar success, he literally told us a story.
Actually he related the story he shares with his audiences.
He begins by asking people if they know whether they’re working with a tax planner or a tax preparer.
It’s an important distinction.
But rather than explain, he launches into his story:
“Remember watching TV and seeing the coverage of the tax law change? People were lined up at the courthouse. What were they doing?”
Marc is referring to the change in federal tax law in 2017 that cut state and local tax deductions beginning in 2018.
But there was a window of opportunity to prepay property taxes by December 31, 2017, and take the full deduction.
“It made sense,” he continues. “It was all over the internet that you weren’t going to be able to deduct your taxes.”
By now, many people in the audience are realizing they missed out on this opportunity to cut their 2018 federal income tax.
That’s when Marc tells them something they’ll never forget:
“Here’s how you know if you’re working with a planner or a preparer: did you get any sort of notification from your tax person at the end of 2017? If you didn’t, odds are you are working with a preparer…not a planner. A planner would have called you to have you save taxes.”
With this, Marc has captivated his audience emotionally.
But to seal the deal, he needs the rational brain to kick in and reinforce the message.
So he continues: “We called about 100 of our clients and said, ‘Hey you see those people lined up on TV? Here’s what they’re doing, and I think it applies to you.’ Because we knew what they were paying in property taxes and what they were giving in charitable contributions.”
Marc estimates that his firm saved clients a quarter of a million dollars in income taxes.
All because he took the time and initiative to make 100 phone calls.
Now isn’t that more effective – and interesting for everyone involved! – than spending 20 minutes trying to explain the difference between the jobs of a tax planner and tax preparer?
Let’s Put the Power of Story to the Test
Marc has found first hand that storytelling is the best way to relate value to an audience.
For example, as a financial professional, you’re no doubt concerned that 44% of Americans don’t have enough cash to cover a $400 emergency.
And that 33% of American adults have saved NOTHING for retirement.
But it’s doubtful that those statistics will make a lasting impression on your audience – they are too impersonal and have no emotional weight.
Now, what if you have a story about someone who literally died on the job…working as a door greeter or fast food cashier at age 86?
Or better yet, a story about how you changed someone’s future by getting her to work with you before it was too late?
(Case studies are in essence stories you use to communicate to prospects how you help, why they might need your help, and what results they can see with you .)
This is Your Brain on Stories
It turns out that we are hard-wired for stories.
Stories literally put our whole brain to work:
- The ancient “reptilian brain” (brainstem and cerebellum) is our survival nerve center, and a problem in a story gets its attention.
- The Limbic brain is stimulated by emotions, and once a story turns positive, the Limbic is activated.
- The Neocortex (our language and logic center) listens for the facts and reasons to justify the emotion that triggered the Limbic.
But it gets even more interesting.
You know that little voice in your head that gets you wondering if you remembered to lock the front door… when you should be listening to the speaker?
Turns out that stories so consume the brain that even your little voice is focused on ways to use elements of the story you’re hearing in your own life.
Stories even drive physical reactions too.
Our brains release cortisol during stressful parts of a story, and dopamine as the reward for a happy ending – meaning that our brains simulate as if we are experiencing the events of the story first-hand, in order to learn the lessons the story conveys.
That’s how powerful stories are not only for capturing attention, but holding it too, as well as pre-selling (via the natural simulations our brains create when we listen to stories) the result you achieve.
How to Use Story in Your Seminar Presentations
The secret to high-converting seminars is to inspire people to want to change their financial habits… and to let you help them.
The problem is that most of your audience is risk-averse.
They want information and probably need your help, but they seldom show up ready to buy.
To get attendees to make an appointment, you need to grab their attention and keep it for more than 8 seconds.
You need enough time to plant one compelling idea that ELICITS a desire to know more and REINFORCES that desire with reason.
You need a story that:
- Captures the heart and sells to the brain
- Is largely true, ends on a positive note and has a clear outcome
- Makes the complex sound simple and easier to understand
- People will remember after they go home
- Sounds (and is) authentic – not promotional
Your story should answer three questions:
- What do you want your attendees to think differently about?
- What do you want them to understand about their problem and your ability to help?
- What action do you want them to take?
Integrate Storytelling with Effective Follow-Up Tactics
As you probably know by now—if you’ve been following us here for long—the full solution is never just one thing.
You need an integrated approach to get the maximum effect of this strategy (though you’ll certainly see results by making this one simple change today).
Here are a few quick takeaways to help make your storytelling strategy even more effective.
Work with a Successful Seminar Planner: You want someone who can deliver highly qualified, high net worth prospects.
Start Building Rapport Early: Even before the seminar event, reach out to attendees with an introductory phone call, emails and last-minute text reminders. Show you’re thinking about them.
Be Customer-Centric: Your attendees want to know what’s in it for them. Keep your focus on how they benefit… not what you’re selling. It really is all about the customer.
Greet All Your Attendees: Make a personal connection even before you start to speak. Talk to individuals and the group as you’re waiting for everyone to arrive and settle in.
Build in a Sense of Urgency: This is just one of many presentation techniques you can use to get them to say, “Yes.”
Be the Professional to Trust: We always recommend holding educational seminars and not doing the dinner seminar. It’s all about the information and what you can do for people.
Ask for the Appointment: Closing is not always easy, but there are techniques that can help, such as including a signup sheet along with the feedback form.
Follow up with All Registrants: Every time you follow up, it’s another opportunity to make contact, nurture a relationship and maybe reach someone who failed to show at your event. It takes persistence.
Above all practice: So you don’t have to read or sound rehearsed.
Watch Marc Geels explain his story-telling technique below: