Risky Business: How Audience Capture Can Sabotage Your Presentation

DesertDon’t let your audience or hosts “capture” you and ruin your presentation.

Great speaking starts with moving from the all too common mindset of Here I Am – my ideas, my thoughts, my goals, my objectives – to coming from a place of There You Are, where you can focus on the audience’s ideas, thoughts, goals and objectives. Yet, like most good things, you can take it too far and become so focused on your host or the audience that you lose your point of view.

We call it Audience Capture and it’s similar to Regulatory Capture. That’s where regulators like the Federal Reserve Board become so close to those they are supposed to regulate that they fail to do their jobs completely. Something similar happens when speakers become so focused on what their host or audience wants that they lose their energy, passion and message.

This is risky business for speakers. Your job is deliver a compelling talk to the audience in a way that creates action. While you should begin with an attitude of There You Are, shifting 100% of your attention to what others want risks the dilution of your message. The end result will likely not be as persuasive.

It can also happen in one-to-one conversations. Think about it. Have you ever had a one-to-one conversation where you set aside or modified your opinion or belief so that you could be more relatable to the person with whom you were speaking? Let’s call this Conversation Capture. Three of the reasons this happens are that we want the other person to:

1. Like us.

2. Agree with us.

3. Support us or sign an agreement.

If we do this consciously, it’s one thing. Oftentimes, however, we do it unconsciously and that’s risky business.

By setting your opinion or belief aside, you may not be perceived as someone with valuable thoughts and ideas. You will have entered the desert of wishy-washiness.

Now, take that one-to-one conversation and change it to one-to-many. That’s you giving a presentation to an audience of more than one person. If you fall victims to audience capture, you’ve more than entered that desert. You’re alone riding a dusty camel in the hot sun seeking an oasis.

So how do you avoid audience capture? Find the sweet spot between there you are and here I am. Acknowledge that there may be aspects of your talk that not everyone can relate to or agree with. Use stories and other techniques to overcome those deltas. The audience will respect you for paying attention to their needs and, even better, be more likely to buy into what you are selling.

The difference between winning and losing the deal often comes down to how information is presented. Do more than just wing it! Join The Speaking Intensive to learn more proven techniques from my career raising capital and as a Hall of Fame speaker.

“Transformational. A professional breakthrough.”

“Fantastic!! Ultimately a straight route to improve my impact and influence.”

“As much a Leadership Development experience as a Public Speaking course.”

“Thank you for pushing me to tap into “tools” I didn’t know I had.”

“Definitely the best program I’ve ever attended.”


© Copyright 2014 The Parisse Group, Inc.

Subtlety & Perception: A Quick Lesson in Presenting from the Federal Reserve

Federal Reserve Bank Logo

“The Ray Rice video for the financial sector has arrived” – or so says Michael Lewis in Bloomberg.

On NPR’s “This American Life” this past weekend, the inner workings of the Federal Reserve Bank were revealed in embarrassing ways.

The overriding concern is “regulatory capture.” That’s where regulators assigned to oversee an institution get so caught up in that organization’s culture they fail to regulate.

In this case Carmen Segarra, a newly hired regulator, was so shocked by what she heard that she started secretly recording conversations.

In one recording. the head of the Fed’s team at Goldman said that credibility at the Fed “is about subtleties and perceptions as opposed to reality.” To a regulator or a compliance officer, this is an absolute absurdity. What matters is facts and substance – real reality.

Regulations aside – what about when a speaker presents to an audience? What’s more important: form or substance? Content or delivery?

Obviously, both is best: stellar substance and dynamic delivery. But who would be more likely to get their message across? A speaker with a strong, authentic presence or one focused on facts and figures?

Don’t let “subtleties and perceptions” bury your message. Come to The Speaking Intensive, and learn how to bring out the strong authentic presenter in you.

Join the last open to the public program in 2014 on November 6 & 7. Presenters from Pacific Life, The Chicago Bulls, Merrill Lynch, LPL, Rockwell Collins and 40 other firms already have. Now it’s your turn. Catch the early registration discount before it ends on Friday!

“Transformational. A professional breakthrough.”

“Fantastic!! Ultimately a straight route to improve my impact and influence.”

“As much a Leadership Development experience as a Public Speaking course.”

“Thank you for pushing me to tap into “tools” I didn’t know I had.”

“Definitely the best program I’ve ever attended.”

© Copyright 2014 The Parisse Group, Inc.

OnWallStreet: Ten Thousand Thank Yous!


Exciting news! OnWallStreet magazine has placed my little book, Questions Great Financial Advisors Ask … and Investors Need to Know, co-authored with David Richman, on their Summer Reading 2014, Part 2: Top Picks on Amazon list! We are truly honored to be included with Storyselling, The Million Dollar Financial Advisor and the other amazing books on the list.

Questions Great Financial Advisors Ask … and Investors Need to Know really is little … by design. After all, we know where most of our most productive reading takes place, right?

While it may be little in size, this book is heavy in content. David and I compiled the essential questions the industry’s top advisors ask. The ones that lead to the probing and personal conversations necessary to diagnose and understand their clients – and potential clients – deep-seated feelings about money. By wringing out the emotion of investing, these successful advisors set clients on the rational road to achieving their financial goals. There’s even a chapter of “great questions to ask” organized by topic.

Here’s a freebie: “Who’s my client?”.



Check out OnWallStreet’s full list here.

Buy the book on Amazon!

LAB: 3 Tactics for Presenting to Diverse Audiences

Labradore retrievers: a diverse audience

Preparing for a presentation on leadership to doctors who manage group practices, I was warned that doctors tend to solve management problems based on their medical specialty.

  1. Ask a surgeon what to do about a difficult employee and chances are their response will be surgical: remove the offender.
  2. Those in the more cerebral specialties – such as endocrinology – think it through ad nauseam.
  3. Psychiatrists want to talk about it.

Doctors are not alone. Most people see and solve problems based on their education, area of expertise, interests and beliefs.

Marketing and sales professionals are highly likely to relate differently to you and your content than those from accounting or legal. The former will tend to respond to intangibles such as stories, humor and anecdotal evidence, while legal and accounting will react to facts, figures and tangible evidence.

LAB – Use it to reach your diverse audience.

Learn as much as you can about the audience ahead of time. Get a strong sense of how they think, how they go about evaluating and solving problems and where their biases and beliefs lie.

If you have a diverse audience, use an array of approaches. Offer just the right mix of stories and substance, humor and facts, and encouragement and evidence.

Evaluate your own mindset and biases. If you love humor, chances are you are erring in that direction. If you think technicalities are critical, you’re probably losing a good chunk of your audience. If you’re impatient and like to get to the point quickly, some are being left in your dust.

While you may not be able to please all the people, all the time, LAB will increase the percentage of your audience that will understand, accept and act on your message.

Join us at The Speaking Intensive. Presenters from The Chicago Bulls, Merrill Lynch, Rockwell Collins and 40 other firms already have. Now it’s your turn. Catch the early registration discount for September!

© Copyright 2014 The Parisse Group, Inc.

Alan Parisse

Hall of Fame speaker Alan Parisse has been coaching presenters and delivering keynotes for over 25 years. Named “One of the Top 21 Speakers for the 21st Century” by Successful Meetings Magazine, he is a keynote speaker for a wide variety of industries and organizations. Alan is a passionate presentation coach to executives, financial advisors, sports stars and sales presenters.




Lisa Casden has been coaching presenters for 10 years. A former professional figure skater, coach and choreographer, Lisa leverages her unique background and point of view to help speakers organize their physicality in ways that best support their message.