by Frank Maselli
Reviewed by Gary W. Silverman, CFP®
Gary Silverman owns a fee-only financial planning firm in Wichita Falls, Texas. He is the editor of the financial newsletter Personal Money Planning, writes the newspaper columns Your Money and Biz2Biz, and hosts the cable talk show, Money Cent$.
Prior to moving into the wonderful world of money I was as an industrial trainer. As such, I designed, created, and gave numerous presentations to a wide range of audiences. With that background, marketing through seminars was a no-brainer. Through them, the core of my advisory business was built. Over the years I took a break from seminars and began teaching business courses in college, but a year or two before the Great Recession, I decided to get back into the seminar game.
Because of this, I was interested in what this book by Frank Maselli, Seminars: The Emotional Dynamic, had to say. After all, there is always something to learn, and its subtitle: Advanced Presentation Skills for Financial Professionals, promised to upgrade me.
As you might gather from the title, Maselli's book is about developing an emotional response.
The essence of a super-successful seminar is your ability to create, tap into, and control a specific pattern of emotions in the minds of the audience.
Specifically, what this book does is "... examine seminars from the audience's perspective and explore what is going on in their heads while you're doing the presentation." So, to get down to the chase, I'm skipping over the chapters that convince you seminars still work, are worthwhile, and you can do them. I already believe that and you won't likely buy the book if you don't believe that, too.
A brisk reading of the text uncovered some things I was doing wrong or less than optimally. For instance, I was starting to let my PowerPoint slides pace the seminar (and I was using way too many slides). Instead, my pacing should have been coming from the feedback I was getting from the audience. In fact, even before the seminar started I was messing up. Rather than take the time to meet and greet, pre-selling myself to my attendees and getting to know what my audience was like, I was hunkered down in a corner going over my notes one last time.
Maselli has come up with nine different emotions that can and should be touched. An example of that is confidence. Two kinds of confidence were examined-both vital to turning attendees into clients. First, the audience needed to be brought to a place of confidence in you. That one seemed obvious. The next is a bit more subtle, for they also need to have confidence in themselves. After all, if they didn't feel confident that they could make the proper decision on who to hire, neither you nor anyone else is getting the job. In other words, are they confident in their ability to choose a person in whom they can be confident?
One of the first emotions I read (I do skip around a bit) was fear. In years gone by, seminar "experts" told us to scare attendees into our arms. I wanted to make sure Maselli wasn't one of those. While he does talk about it, his thought is not to create fear, but rather to help the audience "... identify, understand and overcome the fears they already have deep inside them!"
But this book isn't just about emotion. It also covers how to prepare for, run, and follow-up the seminar. There's a great section on preparing for and handling the Q&A. And while I may not be a fan of all of his techniques, they did make me think about how to handle specific circumstances.
You can tell he has a wirehouse background as some of the discussion seems to have a
"production" flavor. However, fee-only advisers and counselors will easily be able to implement Maselli's ideas and techniques
Did I agree with everything in this book? Of course not. I doubt that I agree with everything in any book. That didn't keep me from learning (or being "reminded") how to give the right presentation to the right people the right way. As he says ...
"This whole discussion is not about turning out thousands of copies of any one style or delivery. It's about giving you the tools to find your own style and empowering you to be yourself."
Anyone who does or is looking to do seminars will be able to add this book to their own tools and create more effective and beneficial seminar events.
The Frank Maselli Company (2009)