Most people feel like they’re experts in something - and this is usually themselves. You know what sort of person you are, how you operate, and what you do for a living.
But do you know these things well enough to talk about them for a minute without hesitation, deviation, or repetition?
It’s worth giving this a go. Pretend you’ve just sat down with a new client, who’s asked what it is you do, why you do it, and why they should go for your advice.
This might sound simple enough, but in practice it can be a different story. You may find yourself starting off well, before realising halfway through that you forgot to mention a point, which ties into another one, which helps explain another point, and before you know it you’re repeating yourself in long-winded sentences.
By this time your client, who will usually be baffled by the world of finance anyway, could be completely flummoxed.
Showing What You Know
The reason for this is that there’s a difference between knowing something, and communicating it.
If you know a lot about a subject, you can provide an almost endless list of information on it. But these may not come out in any particular order, may overrun, and you might find yourself repeating things without realising.
By contrast, effectively communicating a subject means not only do you know this information, but you can easily show how it fits together in a logical order. It means you’ve got clear, concise answers to every question – never saying too much or too little, and never deviating from the exact question asked.
This is why it pays to write down a list of everything you could possibly be asked about yourself, your business, and your advice. Draw from your rich experience to create a checklist that covers everything relevant to your proposition, and write down an answer to every single question.
Once you’ve done this, rewrite each answer in more simple terms. The simpler you can make it, without distorting the meaning, the better. At this point, you won’t have any information written down you didn’t already know. But your ability to communicate this information in a simple, direct way will improve enormously.
Trust the Checklist
Communication is a two-way street. No matter how strong the information is in your head, if you can’t get it out effectively, your client won’t be impressed.
This game might sound far too junior to play with the knowledge you’ve built over many years, but it really pays to give this exercise a go.
Remember that before every flight, airport staff go through an extensive checklist of what needs to be done before a plane can take off. On this list may be things they remembered doing only five minutes ago. But as the stakes are so high, they can’t afford to not to check again.
Bringing this mindset into your client meetings will boost your business. Treat the stakes of the meeting as airport staff would a flight. Create your own ‘answer checklist’ - and once you push yourself to answer questions in this way, the results may surprise you.