Five steps to effective communication

Episode 110: September 2020

Audiogram - BCBO ep. 110 - Five steps to effective communication

Whether speaking at an event, in a group, or a one-on-one with a client, communicate effectively is a critical part of your role as a financial advisor. This has become an even more pronounced with the COVID-19 pandemic, as many of these conversations have moved into the digital realm.

Joel Weldon, creator of the Ultimate Speaking System, joins the podcast to share his insights from doing over 3,000 speeches, along with some of the tools that he uses to help make concise, clear presentations that connect with an audience of any size.


Joel Weldon – 73% of a typical business person’s day is spent in communications – reading, writing, listening, and speaking. And especially in the financial services area, because when you’re speaking to a client or a potential client, you’re speaking about their money, and your ability to connect with that person is so much more important than the ordinary job has.

Ben Jones – Welcome to Better Conversations. Better Outcomes. presented by BMO Global Asset Management. I’m Ben Jones.

Emily Larsen – And I’m Emily Larsen.  On this show we explore the world of wealth advising from every angle, providing actionable ideas designed to improve outcomes for advisors and their clients.

Disclosure – The views expressed here are those of the participants and not those of BMO Global Asset Management, its affiliates, or subsidiaries. 

Ben Jones – Emily is out enjoying some well-earned time off, so I’m going to be hosting this episode solo. Advisors are often tasked with relaying a lot of complex information in a digestible form. And whether it be speaking at an event, public, or group presentation or one-on-one consultation with a client, you have to be able to communicate effectively in this business. This has become an even more pronounced challenge with the COVID pandemic, as many of these conversations have moved into the digital realm. This episode is loaded with actionable advice for you on speaking and presenting, whether that’s virtually, or in person. Our expert guest today is Joel Weldon, creator of the Ultimate Speaking System. Joel was inducted into the national speaker’s association in 1977, but Joel claims that he was not born a gifted speaker, and instead learned how to communicate effectively over time. He’s going to share some of that wisdom he’s gained for doing over 3,000 speeches, along with some of the tools that he uses to help make concise, clear presentations that connect clearly with your audience. First, I’ll let him explain his story because not only is it surprising, it’s wildly entertaining.

Joel Weldon – My career really began in 1974 as a professional speaker, but it’s not the typical career move when people look at speakers today, they usually find people who had an affinity for speaking. They were maybe class president or on a debating team, or love giving presentations. Mine was exactly the opposite, and this is one of the basic principles or beliefs that we have as part of the Ultimate Speaking System is being an effective speaker and communicator is a learned skill. It’s just like anything else that you do, whether it’s typing with 10 fingers, whether it’s being a golfer and being able to get close to par or lowering your handicap. It’s a skill that you learn by doing it over and over again. And I’m living proof of that. Because there’s nobody less qualified to do what I do, and yet I’ve been doing it for 46 years. When you were back in high school, Ben, what were you like? Were you outgoing, did you have a lot of friends, did you play sports? What was your high school experience?

Ben Jones – I mean I did all those things. You know, it’s funny you mentioned debate, I was on the debate team, I played football, track and field, individual sports. I had very eclectic group of friends from many different circles, so I would say I was somewhat outgoing.

Joel Weldon – Okay, well and you are outgoing today, but my experience was completely different. I didn’t do anything in high school. You look at my high school year book where it gives a background like all the things you just mentioned, there’s nothing there. I was on no teams, did no extracurricular things. I was in the bottom quarter of my high school class. I made the top three quarters possible. If it wasn’t for me, they wouldn’t be up there. And I did miserably, and I never could give a presentation. I never stood up in front of my classmates and gave a talk, a speech, or a report. I took a failing grade. I was terrified standing up in front of a group, I had no confidence, and the only thing I was good at was working with my hands. So after high school, I became a carpenter, and for the next eight years I was banging nails and digging ditches, making $62.50 a week eight years after high school. It doesn’t sound like the beginning of a professional speaker’s career, especially when you compare it to yours with your background in speaking communication, team sports, and being a popular guy. I did go back for my 50th high school reunion. Nobody knew who I was, and one lady said well you’re the guy who never said anything. And she said what do you do now? I said I’m a professional speaker. Well she almost fell over because it doesn’t make any sense, except if you accept that premise. That speaking effectively is a learned skill. If anybody ever told me when I was there that I would be in the Speaker’s Hall of Fame, and be named a legend in the speaking industry, and have been paid to speak at over 3,000 events, I’d say that’s impossible. But you can learn how to speak even better. 

Ben Jones – Just to correct the record, I don’t know that I would claim that I was popular. I said I really had lots of friends in eclectic circles, I didn’t say that they liked me. And so when you decided to start speaking, maybe take us back in time a little bit: What was your first speaking event, and then did you go about learning through the school of hard knocks? Or did you hire a trainer and a coach?

Joel Weldon – It’s an interesting story, and it started, I know exactly the date, September 4th, 1969. Tempe, Arizona. And that was my first presentation. It was a sales meeting that I was running, and there were 17 people in the room, and after the meeting was over, I was packing up my stuff then, and a guy comes in, a and older gentleman, and he said would you like some feedback on the meeting? Now what would you have said then? 

Ben Jones – I would have said yes.

Joel Weldon – Well I said yes, too. He said okay, first of all this was the worst meeting I have ever attended, and you are the worst speaker I have ever seen in my entire life. Now I don’t know what you would have done, but I know what I did: I started to cry. And he said Joel, stop crying, you’re 28 years old, you’re a grown man, you’re not a baby. I said well, you know I’ve never done this before, I knew it wasn’t good, but I didn’t think it was that bad. He said yeah, it was that bad, but I’m going to fix you. I said what do you mean? He said Tuesday, on the 9th of September, I want you to come to the Tempe Toastmasters with me, and we’re going to teach you how to speak. So on September 9th, 1969 at Brad’s Coffee Shop in Tempe Arizona, I went to the Tempe Toastmasters club. Never heard of Toastmasters, didn’t know what it was, so I joined that club and I made a decision: I’ve got to learn how to speak and communicate. And I never missed a meeting for five years, and then 1974 every year they’d have a speech contest and I happened to come home and I had the flyer with me and Judy said what’s this? I said oh, there’s a speech contest for Toastmasters. She said are you going to enter? I said oh no, I don’t think I could enter a contest, I’m not that good. She said yeah, you’ve gotten really good, you should enter the contest. So I entered, and I went all the way to the world finals. 60,000 competitors that year in 1974, Disneyland hotel, 2,000 people in the room, and I placed in the top three in the world. And it was written about in the local Arizona Republic, our newspaper for the state of Arizona, “Young Man Comes In 3rd In the International Speech Contest Out Of 60,000 Competitors”. And the phone rings. And a guy says hi, this is Paul Cronin. I’m the president of the Phoenix Independent Garage Owners. I said okay, and he said I read the paper, and we need a speaker for our banquet. Would you be our after dinner speaker? I said sure. He said well first of all, we need to talk about money. I said okay, and he said how does $25 sound? I said well, I guess that’s okay, where do I send the check to? He said no, we give you $25. I said I get $25 to speak? And he said yeah, and you get a chicken dinner.

Ben Jones – Joel’s first belief is to keep in mind that anyone can learn to be a strong speaker. So if you’re looking to improve your communication, pay close attention to the actionable advice that he’s about to share with you – especially his know-how-feel paradigm.  Many advisors do a lot of speaking, and prior to the pandemic, seminars, conferences, industry events, I mean these were all things that were a normal part of work life for advisors. And some of them have even kind of lead presentation and training; even fewer though have hired a speaking coach. So some of them have gone through those presentation training classes, but even fewer have had a speaking coach, and so as we move into this virtual world, I’m curious from your perspective why do you think advisors should care about this topic today?

Joel Weldon – Well, first of all being an effective communicator is something they do all day long. University of Missouri just completed a study and found that 73% of a typical business person’s day is spent in communications – reading, writing, listening, and speaking. And especially in the financial services area, because when you’re speaking to a client or a potential client, you’re speaking about their money. You’re speaking about their retirement plan. You’re speaking about their current assets, and your ability to connect with that person is so much more important than the ordinary job has. So being a highly effective communicator is not just being a speaker in front of a group, so in the hundreds of financial advisors that I personally coached one-on-one, or use our system, one of the biggest feedbacks we get is how much better their one-on-one presentations have gotten. Their client annual reviews or quarterly reviews. Their interview with a high net worth prospect coming in for a second opinion or stress test, or creating a virtual family office and working with their COIs, and how much better their one-on-one communications have gotten because it’s all part of a system. How you can communicate what’s in your brain, your thoughts to the mind of your listener that is clear, and concise, and compelling, and is credible. So it’s such a valuable skill, the other reason that advisors should be using speaking to grow their practice, it positions them as an expert. And Ben, you do a lot of speaking yourself, and when you’re on a stage or a virtual stage today, it edifies you. You have an expert status, and then you get to that ultimate level which is called a results leader. We have thought leaders, but then we have results leaders, and that’s what the advisor wants to be in their niche in their marketplace perceived by their potential clients to be the go-to person when it comes to retirement planning or exiting their business, or Social Security choices, whatever their specialty is. So their ability as an advisor is so critical, and yet like you say very few of them are investing their time, effort, and energy to improve that skill level because they’re under that misconception, “Well, I’m just not a speaker. I’m just not comfortable. I tried it once, it didn’t work, and I don’t want to do it again. I don’t want to do a video, I don’t want to do a webinar, I don’t want to do a podcast. I just like moving the numbers around, and working one-on-one with my clients.” That’s a misconception. You can learn how to communicate more effectively. And that’s why I think I’m so effective at what I do Ben, is because that’s where I was. So I know there’s nobody I’ve ever worked with one-on-one that was worse than I was. 

Ben Jones – I love it. Now Joel, one thing I do want to ask you is that a lot of your experience was in these live speeches. And as we’ve moved to digital first kind of period of communication here, what do you think the biggest challenges with communication and speaking in this digital first environment?

Joel Weldon – Okay, wonderful question, because this is where most of our training has been focused on, because there are no live meetings. I mean there are a few, but basically everything from a team meeting in a company, we are talking to your own team members, any of these presentations now are being done in a virtual format. So the biggest challenge is connection, because if you think about the old days prior to COVID-19 when we used to go into a meeting room. If we had 50 of your advisors coming to hear you give a talk at 9:00, by 9:05 let’s say, almost everybody is there. And if you’re going to talk for an hour, the chances are nobody is going to get up and walk out on you. That’s not true in a virtual world. If you’re watching on a camera and you can turn your camera off, and your name appears, they don’t know if you’re there or not. People can get up and leave, people come in at all different times in a presentation, so one of the tools we’ve created is because the audience comes and goes, you have to use certain things in a virtual presentation you don’t do in a live presentation, like saying an expression like this: Let me go over those three basic premises that we started with, because they’re so important for what’s coming next. In other words, repeat some of your earlier comments so that the late arrivals are at the same page as the bulk of your audience. And do that throughout your message. Also, because you can’t control when they leave the presentation, you want to put your close in the opening. So one of the things that we provide is a tool called know-have-feel. And Ben, I’m sure that you have been to a meeting, turned to somebody sitting next to you, and said these exact words: “What’s this guy talking about? Where’s this thing going?” Has that ever happened to you, where you have no idea what the speaker is trying to do?

Ben Jones – I feel like more often it’s happened to people listening to me. 

Joel Weldon – No, you’re way too modest. But seriously, have you ever thought that to yourself? What is this all about? 

Ben Jones – Uh huh.

Joel Weldon – And so the know-have-feel is the answer. So if the first few minutes of a presentation you tell the audience what are they going to know? What are they going to have? Are they going to know statistics, examples, what’s happening with the current tax law? Are they going to have a hand out? Are they going to have a follow-up material? Are they going to have an opportunity to come in for a second opinion and talk about this virtually one-on-one with you? Plant that seed of your close in the opening. And then how are they going to feel? Are you going to feel more confident? You’ll be more excited. You’ll be focused. Whatever that’s going to be, but telling the audience up front what will they know, what will they have, and how will it make them feel? 

Ben Jones – In addition to the idea around know-have-feel, I love and have already used Joel’s advice about opening with your close. Using these two points in a digital environment can really improve the effectiveness of your communication. Before you give a presentation though, you need to do some planning.  When we start first thinking about the need to do a presentation and prepare, what do we need to know up front? 

Joel Weldon – Alright, great question. So just imagine later this afternoon you’re going to go to a hotel and live meetings are now allowed in Utah, and there’s going to be 50 people in the room, and we want you there to talk about safe driving. Can you quickly tell myself and our podcast audience here a couple of the dos and don’ts that you might talk about in this presentation to be a safer driver. So tell me some things we should do and not do.

Ben Jones – Well, if you ask my wife, you would not listen to me on this topic, but the first thing I would want to know is what is the size of the audience? 

Joel Weldon – There’s 50 people, but just tell me what would you do or not do to be a safe driver.

Ben Jones – Well I would follow the rules that are laid out, so not speeding, wearing my seatbelt. 

Joel Weldon – Seatbelt, not speed, what about texting, drinking, eating? 

Ben Jones – Well definitely not multi-task. 

Joel Weldon – Don’t multi-task when you’re driving.  Should you signal?

Ben Jones – Yup.

Joel Weldon – Well those sound pretty good, don’t they? 

Ben Jones – I mean not being an expert, they sound pretty good. 

Joel Weldon – Okay, but I think you, why I stopped you because I think you were going in the direction that I would hope our financial advisors listening to this are going to go. Because the very first thing you should have said to me is instead of the size of the audience, who is the audience? So ask me that question? 

Ben Jones – So Joel, who is the audience I’m speaking to?

Joel Weldon – Oh, they’re 50 NASCAR drivers, and NASCAR has been having some accidents on the track, and they wanted you to come in and talk about safe driving. Now let’s go over your content so far. Okay, we’re going to obey all the rules, we’re going to signal, we’re not going to speed. How are we doing with our audience? Are they connecting with your message? I don’t think so, and that’s what your advisors need to do. The presentation begins with who is your audience. Second thing, and if they just do these five things, they will structure a magnificent presentation every time. So the first question is the clearer that you can get as a presenter of who you’re talking to, you can go to Step Two which is now that I know who’s there, what are their NFVs? And that’s an acronym for needs, fears, and victories. What does this audience need to be doing? Let’s talk about exit planning, if that’s going to be the subject of a webinar, of a podcast, or a video that an advisor is going to make. Exit planning, well what do they need to know? They need to start planning early. They need to know some of the things that happen when you sell a business. They need to understand some of the psychological impact they’re going to have when they’re not working anymore that a business they have devoted their whole life to creating. So that’s part of what they would need. Fears are worries. What keeps them up at night? Or concerns. And victories are what are their successes? So that’s Step Two. Who is your audience? What are their NFVs? When you know those two things, you can create what I call a golden thread bin.

Ben Jones – Okay?

Joel Weldon – That’s one sentence that summarizes this entire message. So since we are talking about exit planning, I’ll just make up a sentence and let’s say the sentence is how to retire getting maximum income from the years that you have invested in your business and enjoy the rest of your life. That’s what we’re going to talk about. Step Four is what’s the call to action. Now a call to action doesn’t have to be a sales situation. A call to action can be a do, think, or feel. And Ben, if you just think of every presentation you give, even if it’s to one person, what are you going to ask them to do? Or what are you going to ask them to think? Or what are you going to ask them to feel? Or you can do all three. If we’re doing a webinar to people who are thinking about exiting their business, one of the things that they should be doing is coming and talk to you on a one-on-one basis and setting up a private Zoom call. Step Four is the call to action.

  1. Who is your audience?
  2. What are their needs, fears, and victories?
  3. What’s the golden thread?
  4. What’s the call to action?

Now, Ben, only now, should you start thinking of the content of what you’re going to say. Now again, if we go back to your career that you have spoken a lot, I imagine that you have never heard anybody say these words to you when you were asked to make a presentation. Ben, talk as long as you want.

Ben Jones – Yeah, no, as a Chatty Kathy I usually get the opposite.

Joel Weldon – Ok, well having been paid 3,000 plus times, no one has ever said Joel, talk as long as you want. They say you’ve got 45 minutes, you’ve  got two hours, you’ve got four hours, you’ve  got a full day. But nobody says as long as you want. So if you think as an advisor, if you’re listening to this, every presentation you have is going to limit how much time you have. And yet, you have more content than that time. You could talk for days about exit planning. But you have 30 minutes. How do you know what to talk about? And this is the answer to your question. The only thing, in my opinion, that can be in this presentation, is something that meets a need of your audience. Or something that helps them overcome a fear. Or something that reinforces their victories. And if it doesn’t do any of those three things, you can’t talk about it.

Ben Jones – Does the structure of a presentation change based on the length?

Joel Weldon – No. Whether it’s two minutes or two hours, it’s got to start somewhere and end somewhere. It has to be relevant to the audience. It needs to have a call to action, a purpose. What are they going to do, what are they going to think, or what are they going to feel? And it has to end with some kind of an impact. 

Ben Jones – This is a really powerful five-step framework. Because in the end, it requires you to step into your audience’s shoes and cut everything else out that is not relevant. To reiterate the five steps – they are:

Step one, to be clear on who your audience is.

Step two is to consider their existing needs, fears, and victories, NFV.

Step three is to come up with a golden thread. What is that one sentence that summarizes the entire talk?

Step four, develop a call to action. 

Step five is to use the above steps to plan your content.

Now speaking of content, a mistake I often see with presentation slides is way too much information packed on to one slide. You don’t want to inundate your audience with distractions and bullet points. Remember, you want to focus your visuals very carefully.  

Joel Weldon – So here’s my basic rule on visuals. First of all, a visual must be visible. Now one advantage we have in the virtual world, we don’t have a guy 6’4″ in front of you like you have in a meeting room. So normally, when you do a live event, my recommendation is the only part of the screen in a meeting room the audience can see is the top third, guaranteed. Maybe halfway down. The bottom third of a screen is almost invisible in a meeting room. So we never put anything on the bottom third. So that’s one thing. But on a virtual presentation where they’re looking at their laptop, that’s a no-brainer you can use the whole screen. But the rule of thumb that we have in the Ultimate Speaking system is simply this: the only thing on the screen should match the words that you’re talking about. So let’s go back to the needs, fears, and victories. So if I said to you, the only thing that you should be talking about are what the audience needs. So what’s on the screen? The word needs. That’s it, no fears, no victories. Because we are not talking about that yet. So the suggestion is avoid bullet points. Avoid multiple images. One single thing. That’s it. And then one other technique that’s very simple to use is if you’re telling a story, you use a black slide. And the screen is blank. So there’s nothing to distract from the story and you as the story teller. And of course the story has to have a point. So what does that mean for you? Well what Charlie did when he exited his business, click, number one, he planned early. That’s all that’s on the screen. Click. Now how much does a slide cost you, Ben?

Ben Jones – To make?

Joel Weldon – Yeah.

Ben Jones – Nothing.

Joel Weldon – Nothing. So why would you put five things on one slide and you’re only talking about one of them at a time? Put them on five slides. And then use as many images as you can instead of words.

Ben Jones – Yeah, that’s always been my favorite part of presentation building is images over bullet points and words.

Joel Weldon – Yes.

Ben Jones – It just really drives points home better and people remember those images and the words you say with them. Joel says that anyone can learn to speak. But remember, everyone has a different personality. So I asked Joel, how do you leverage your own unique style and personality in a presentation so that it lands correctly with the audience? 

Joel Weldon – As a financial advisor, the single most important quality that a potential client needs to see in you as the advisor is they must trust you. Would you agree with that, Ben?

Ben Jones – Totally, I mean, that’s what we sell, yeah.

Joel Weldon – So one of the basic beliefs I mentioned about learned skill is the first belief. The second belief, that’s the foundation of something that I teach and in our system, be you. Be yourself. Speaking effectively is not a performance. It is not a show. It is being congruent. Especially in financial services. I mean just imagine that somebody acts like Tony Robbins. I mean they got energy and enthusiasm and they’re running all around and they do this presentation and somebody says they want to come in for a second opinion. They come into the office and they’re with the advisor for three or four minutes, and they say, well wait a minute, who are you? You’re so different than the guy I saw at the meeting. Oh, well, that was my performance. No. The most important thing is trust. And that’s by being credible. And the way you develop trust is to be you. Now, Ben, you’re probably saying, but what if you’re dull, boring, and monotone? Which I know some of our listeners are right now. Then that’s how you should speak. You should do a webinar dull, boring, and monotone. You should do a live presentation being dull, boring, and monotone. Because if you try to be enthusiastic, if you try to be somebody you’re not, you’ve lost all your credibility. And you’re not going to be comfortable.  Well, I think what overcomes that, Ben, is the content. If what you’re talking about is so relevant to their needs or so relevant to helping them overcome their worries and concerns, they’re going to pay attention. And one of the things that we teach is using humor by using visuals and not having to be funny. And that you can use a visual that creates energy when you don’t have any. And that’s a very simple tool to use. But remember the first basic belief is that it’s a learned skill. Second to be you. And the third one is tweaks. It’s little things that you can do that make the big difference. Little things. And humor is one of those little things where you can just drop in something. So, as an example, I worked with one of our advisors and he was talking about retirement planning. And one of the things he said is that when you retire, you’re going to have enough money to have the home of your dreams. And then he was going to put a picture of a beautiful house. I said what if we put this picture up and then I found the picture of a trailer up on sticks like posts, about four feet off the ground, with tires on the roof and old cars in the front, just a mess. And I said what if you said those exact words that when you retire you can have the home of your dreams, click, and then this dumpy house appears. And all you have to say is oh, I don’t mean this house, click, I mean this house, and then there was a beautiful home on a hill with a white picket fence and beautiful landscaping. So the idea of using something that’s the opposite of what you’re doing. And again, you don’t have to be funny to do that, you just let the visual create the humor, which energizes your audience. And that’s why humor is so important. It energizes your audience, it opens them to your ideas.

Ben Jones – I love that. Now, a couple of other questions for you, Joel, on personality and style. So we all know that communication, while we’re talking verbally on an audio program here, a lot of communication happens nonverbal. And when you’re presenting, what are the biggest nonverbals that you need to manage?

Joel Weldon – Well I’m going to go back to the second belief. Be you. There are people that are not very animated. And if they are encouraged to use big sweeping gestures or to run back and forth on the stage, or to do something on a virtual call where they’re just stepping out of their comfort zone, they’re going to become uncomfortable. And part of that becomes the word self-conscious. But when you’re not self-conscious and you’re you, the chances of being relaxed are so much greater. So again, I would go back to that premise that I can’t even remember when I watched the video of one of my clients or we’ve talked on a Zoom call and I got into how do you move your body. Because I don’t think it’s as relevant as we’re making it. Now on a virtual call, where most of the image of the speaker is their face and their head and shoulders, then the most important thing on a virtual call is never take your eyes off the camera. Because normally if you are into virtual communications, you would use a separate camera like I have. You want to keep that camera 3″ to 4″ inches above your eye level, so you’re always looking up, not down. Yet the screen of your computer or laptop is lower than the camera. And the tendency is for the ordinary speaker is to look at the pictures of the audience when they’re talking or answering the questions. But then what everybody else sees is not their eye contact, they see them looking down to the right or the left. So the premise would be, if Ben is in the bottom left, I might just — Ben that’s a good question, right back to the camera, and talk to Ben in the camera. 

Ben Jones – Joel’s second belief in case you missed it, is be you. This is really sage wisdom, especially in a digital first world. Now if you’re wondering how Joel gives such compelling advice, it turns out that he’s had years of feedback to hone his system and delivery. And you can do that as well. Feedback and constructive criticism are crucial to improvement in any endeavor.  Let’s shift over to improvement.  So you do your first presentation. I’m a big fan of feedback, even, when at times it’s brutal to hear. We kind of go through the exercise, we get our structure, our presentation, we think we’ve got it down, and we give the presentation. It’s not going to be excellent the first time, right? How important is it to practice and solicit input from others before you get up on that main stage?

Joel Weldon – So this is such a powerful thing and this is one of the best tools that I’ve ever created and I’ve used it for 46 years. At every live presentation I’ve given, the audience critiques me. We have a little green 3″ x 5″ card, and it has between, depending on how long I have with the group, between three and six questions. So let’s go to the three questions that you should always ask your audience, even virtually you can do this and you can put it on the screen and the chat box, here’s my e-mail, and I want you to just answer these three questions. Based on our webinar today on how to retire and sleep well at night every night, the first question would be on a 1 low, 10 high scale, how valuable were these ideas for you? 1, it was a complete waste of time, 10 it was really great. Give a number from 1 to 10.  Alright, second question is, of all the things that we talked about, these five different steps that you need to follow, what was the most important to you? What was your best takeaway? And let’s focus on those five steps. Of those five steps, which one was the most valuable for you?  And then the last question is what can I have done to make this time together that we’ve had even better for you?  And those are the three questions I have asked literally millions of people. I’ve gotten the answers to. And it’s been the single greatest thing I’ve done to improve my own speaking ability. Because if you keep doing what they love and stop doing what they don’t like, the one other great advantage for an advisor, because they usually are using the step process. The five steps to retirement, the three most important things about tax planning, whatever it is. So just imagine if you’ve talked about the five things about retirement, and number four, nobody put that as the best idea. What do you think happens in your next presentation? The four most important things. And then the next time if number two doesn’t come up, the three most important things you need to know. And that’s how I’ve crafted my material over the years is whatever didn’t come up as the best idea on at least some of the cards, I dropped. Because obviously it didn’t make an impact on the audience. So that’s one of the tools that feedback can help you do. And unfortunately some people don’t want to know, they just want to, just tell me how great I am and then when you’re finished I’m going to tell you how great I was. No, you really want to get the hard truth. And that’s what being in Toastmasters teaches you. Because every speaker is evaluated, and you need to be critiqued.  Let’s go to the practice. I don’t recommend memorizing anything. I think you need to just talk naturally. Now, you need a plan. You need a structure. But if you’re talking about what you know so much about, as a financial advisor if you’re talking about taxes and not paying too much in taxes, you know a lot of stuff on that. Remember, you’re only going to have 30 minutes or an hour; you’re not going to be able to tell everything you know. You’re going to pick the most important things that meet their needs, fears, and victories, and you’re going to make it relevant to them. But it’s so important that you focus on that part of it.  

Ben Jones – If you spend any amount of time with Joel, you will find his enthusiasm and passion for his work to be absolutely contagious.  Joel is also a competitive water skier, and even more amazing, next year he turns 80 years old.  Yes, you heard that right.  Now, I have been truly inspired by Joel’s zest for life, so I just had to ask him, what is his secret?  

Joel Weldon – So I guess the advice I would give all of our guest members, you got to love what you’re doing.  With all the financial advisors that I’ve worked with, the most successful ones are the ones that just love what they do.  And because they love it so much, it’s never a job.  And that’s how I have felt about what I do.  If I wake up one morning, and I think, oh, I don’t want to get another call from an advisor looking at his webinar, or I don’t want to go do a talk on the Zoom call, I’m done.  I just get up in the morning; I just can’t wait to start working.  My youngest grandson is at Annapolis, he’s in his third year, he’s a mid-shipman.  And we talked about this idea of retirement, and he said, Pops, do you know what they call what a ship that is taken off the fleet becomes?  What the word is in the Navy?  And I said no, Barrett, I have no idea.  He said, we call it out of service.  He said why don’t you use that when you talk about retirement, because retirement means you’re going out of service.  And if you as a financial advisor love what you’re doing and you’re good at what you’re doing, why would you want to go out of service?  So yes, you could slow down, I have many advisors that are up in their 70s and 80s, and they work like half a day.  But they still have clients, they still go to their office, they still love what they do.  That’s what I would recommend, based on having gotten almost to these eight decades.  Love what you do, keep getting better at what you do, and then make it all about your clients.  It’s really all about them, and helping them be even better.

Ben Jones – That’s some really powerful, wonderful advice.  I appreciate you indulging the personal question.  And I really appreciate you taking some time to join us here on this show.  And if you were summarize our entire conversation today in one or two sentences, what would you say?

Joel Weldon – That’s what I was going to close with.

Ben Jones – Well, boom.

Joel Weldon – Because on page 148 of our toolbox, our printed toolbox that’s in our system, I summarize everything that’s taken me all these decades to learn in 22 words.

Ben Jones – Give it to us.

Joel Weldon – Are you ready?

Ben Jones – I’m ready.

Joel Weldon – Give me a drumroll.  Okay, here it is: speak to your audience about what they need in an organized way they can follow, and get yourself out of the way. 

Ben Jones – Thank you for listening to Better Conversations. Better Outcomes.  This podcast is presented by BMO Global Asset Management.  To access the resources discussed in today’s show, please visit us at  

Emily Larsen – We love feedback and would love to hear what you thought about today’s episode.  You can send an e-mail to [email protected] 

Ben Jones – And we really respond. 

Emily Larsen – We do. 

Ben Jones – If you thought of someone during today’s episode, we would be flattered if you would take a moment and share this podcast with them.  You can listen and subscribe to our show on Apple Podcasts, or whatever your favorite podcast platform is, and of course, we would greatly appreciate it if you would take a moment to review us on that app.  Our podcasts and resources are supported by a very talented team of dedicated professionals at BMO including Pat Bordak, Derek Devereaux.  The show is edited and produced by Jonah Geil-Neufeld and Sam Peers Nitzberg of Puddle Creative.  These are the real people that make the show happen, so thank you, and until next time, I’m Ben Jones. 

Emily Larsen – And I’m Emily Larsen.  From all of us at BMO Global Asset Management, hoping you have a productive and wonderful week. 

Disclosures – The views expressed here are those of the participants and not those of BMO Global Asset Management, its affiliates, or subsidiaries. This is not intended to serve as a complete analysis of every material fact regarding any company, industry, strategy, or security. This presentation may contain forward looking statements. Investors are cautioned not to place undue reliance on such statements as actual results could vary. This presentation is for general information purposes only, and does not constitute investment, legal or tax advice and is not intended as an endorsement of any specific investment product or service. Individual investors are to consult with an investment, legal, and/or tax professional about their personal situation. Past performance is not indicative of future results.  BMO Global Asset Management is the brand name for various affiliated entities of BMO Financial Group that provide investment management, trust, and custody services. BMO Financial Group is a service mark of Bank of Montreal.  Further information can be found at

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Notice to Canadian Residents: The information on this podcast series is not intended to be construed as an offer to sell, or a solicitation to buy or sell any products or services of any kind whatsoever including, without limitation, securities or any other financial instruments in Canada.