Have you seen the movie The Chef? Fandango describes it: “An out-of-work L.A. chef who opens a food truck in a bid to realize his culinary potential …” While this is an accurate description, we saw more.

In the movie, an established restaurant is going to be reviewed by a renowned food blogger. The chef knew the current menu was downright dowdy – better suited to the country club set than today’s foodies. So he created a gastronomic wonder of a menu – one that would amaze and delight both blogger and customers.

Then the owner stepped in: “We are being reviewed by the most important critic in the city. Now suddenly you are going to be an artist. Be an artist on your own time! Cook my menu!”

The chef knew better, but grudgingly cooked as commanded. As you can imagine, the food blogger crucified courses and chef – setting the movie off on an interesting direction.

Moving to real life, ever have this happen?

You have a great idea – creative, effective and targeted at current audiences. This one is the one. You feel it in your bones and see it in your colleagues. It’s exactly what people want to hear right now.

But senior management insists you stick with the tried and true. “This presentation has helped us grow for the past 5 years. We are not changing it now, when the stakes are high.”

So you do it the boss’s way … and it’s an epic fail.

Whose fault was it?

The boss’? Sure.

Compliance? Well … you know compliance!

Where do you land in the blame game?

What might you have done to create or at least compound the failure? Did you deliver that stock presentation with the same passion as you would have your new idea? What could you have done differently?

There are the high risk approaches – good ideas that might have you looking for a new job:

  • Move forward with your new idea and hope it is so successful that management will forgive your transgression as they focus on the result.
  • Slip in some of the new material without being too obvious.
  • Shut off the LCD projector and tell your compelling story.

Here’s a no risk approach: SHIFT SUBTEXT.

Move the subtext from something about which you are passionate under your words.

What is subtext? Text is the words. Subtext is everything else: how you say it, how it looks, and how it feels. In a movie, subtext is the action, the music, the visuals. In life, it’s the emotions and feelings that drive the way you deliver the text.

The trick is to replace the subtext you feel about the stock presentation with subtext from somewhere else. It may come from your feelings about family, a favorite sports team or the idea the bosses squelched. Shift the enthusiasm you have for that under the text of that past it’s prime presentation.

Go ahead … test drive it. Deliver Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address with all of the fervor, tenacity and zeal displayed when watching your favorite team in the World Cup of Anything. I’m serious. Find an empty room, close the door and do it. Full volume. Feels oddly strange and fun at the same time, right?

Now dial it back a notch or two and deliver your boss’ presentation. It may feel a bit “big” but it’s better, isn’t it?

As we write this blog post, Lisa and I are preparing for next week’s Speaking Intensive. Thankfully, we don’t have someone looming over us saying: “The program works the way it is. Always. Every single time. Why change it?”

Why indeed. Don’t worry. We aren’t re-making the entire “menu” but we are spicing up a recipe or two.

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. May sold out. Just 1 seat left in the July session. 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.