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Paralanguage - can make or break your practice

Your voice and body language conveys 93 percent of your communication message – make this message count.

Monique Rissen-Harrisberg, CEO and founder of The Voice Clinic, believes that
a strong, steady voice and good presentation skills are essential skills for financial planners. “The voice is responsible for conveying 38 percent of every communication message whereas body language is responsible for 55 percent of the message and the actual content of the discussion only conveys 7 percent of the communication message.”
The non-verbal message

“Among the problems we have identified when assessing financial planners during
their initial consultation is that they are wellschooled in financial investment but not as focused on communication skills,” she says. “Yet the way that financial planners build a relationship depends on the way that they communicate. The voice, body language and content all have to be excellent otherwise they are essentially wasting their time. The way they speak, present and persuade will motivate the individual to invest in a certain direction,” she says. “One of the keys to success is how one
presents oneself to clients. A good voice, intonation and body language express
confidence in one’s abilities and help to build rapport with a client. Attending training to improve my speech and body language has in turn helped improve my presentation skills, aided my career in terms of being able to confidently express myself, conduct meetings and present proposals to clients”, says Lisa Beattie, corporate finance associate from Bravura Capital.

Using your voice to gain trust

“Studying the body language of the voice is known as paralinguistics,” adds RissenHarrisberg who has been responsible for training the likes of Adrian Gore and other industry thought leaders. “For example, if people speak softly they show that they lack confidence whereas if people speak loudly they seem arrogant and aggressive. “You need to create an impression that is in accordance with audience expectations using your voice. For financial investors, this image is one of competence and to do this you need to speak with a low pitch, clear resonation and neutral accent. Your tone should be varied and interesting to make it easy to understand and listen to your presentation,” she says.

Relating to your audience

Following on from Wende David’s article on plain language (Anyone Fluent in Mumbo Jumbo – Financial Planner issue 35), RissenHarrisberg emphasises how your register and terminology need to adapt to your audience. “Financial planners are experts in their field so they may not be aware that concepts that are obvious to them could be foreign to the audience. Presenting to a financially educated audience will be different from presenting to the uninformed audience. For
an educated audience, the financial planner will use more sophisticated jargon to show off their knowledge, whereas for the uninformed audience the communication needs to be easier for them to relate to”.

“Another important point to remember is that (as a financial planner) you are selling an idea, you are selling trust and most of all you are selling a promise. And that means you are actually selling yourself. “Make a point of being presentable and
professional at all times, take the time to listen carefully to clients, always be well prepared, cut the jargon and find common ground with your clients,” adds Hollard’s Andre Froneman.

Top three tips for a superior presentation
1. Establish credibility by creating a good image both visually and vocally.
2. Relate your facts and figures to the target audience.
3. Create a rapport and feeling of synergy, especially with the more uninformed audience who will be sold largely by the impression you make.

Finally, we leave you with this age-old wisdom: “skill in the art of communication
is crucial to a leader’s success. She can accomplish nothing unless she can
communicate effectively.”
With the actual content of your discussion only accounting for a small percentage of your communication message, ask yourself whether you are satisfied with the message your voice and body language is conveying to clients