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Steal the Show: From Speeches to Job Interviews to Deal-Closing Pitches, How to Guarantee a Standing Ovation for All the Performances

steal_showA powerful way to master every performance in your career and life, from presentations and sales pitches to interviews and tough conversations, drawing on the methods the author applied as a working actor and has honed over a decade of coaching salespeople, marketers, managers, and business owners

Every day there are moments when you must persuade, inform, and motivate others effectively. Each of those moments requires you, in some way, to play a role, to heighten the impact of your words, and to manage your emotions and nerves. Every interaction is a performance, whether you’re speaking up in a meeting, pitching a client, or walking into a job interview.

In Steal the Show, New York Times best-selling author Michael Port draws on his experience as an actor and as a highly successful corporate speaker and trainer to teach readers how to make the most of every presentation and interaction. He demonstrates how the methods of successful actors can help you connect with, inspire, and persuade any audience. His key strategies for commanding an audience’s attention include developing a clear focus for every performance, making sure you engage with your listeners, and finding the best role for yourself in order to convey your message with maximum impact.

Michael Port is one of the most in-demand corporate speakers working today. His presentations are always powerful, engaging, and inspirational. And yes, audiences always give him a standing ovation.

An inspiring program full of essential advice for spotlight lovers and wallflowers alike that will teach readers how to bring any crowd to its feet.

You can buy the book from The Book Depository, or Amazon

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Herding as persuasion. What kind of shepherd are you? Or perhaps you are the sheep.

We fit in. We fit in with society, with our families, with our peers.

From a very young age, and from way back in the mists of history, we have been shepherded by our families, our tribe, our peers into conforming.

There was a time, and perhaps there are still times, when our very survival depended/depends on it.

So the urge to conform is strong in us,

especially in situations where we may not know what is appropriate, expected and safe.

I felt it when I attended a presentation early in my days in business.

He had already used various techniques that had me on edge, uncomfortable, aware of the not-so-subtle attempts at persuasion.

He had audience members becoming more and more excited.

“Raise your hand if …” and up went the hands.

Say “Yes” if you agree. And they were shouting “yes”.

“Who wants my freebie?” And before he had finished describing the thousands of dollars’ worth, two gentlemen were running to the stage for his USB.

“Everyone who belongs to my tribe run to the back of the room to sign up.”

And they did.

He had started with a room full of people. Many had left, but the numbers were still quite large.

I had no desire to buy.

I was very aware of what he was doing.

It was unsubtle and ugly,

and yet still I felt an outsider, uncomfortable, boring!

The power of belonging to the herd is incredibly strong.

And more recently, I attended a multi-level-marketing presentation.

I was late, partly because I was reluctant to attend, having agreed to make up numbers for a friend, and found myself sitting in a front row on a chair while about ten people sat on lounge chairs and padded chairs in an arc behind me.

And here again …

“Raise your hand if you want to live your dream.”

And the hands went up.

“Who’s excited by this offer?” And they very nearly shouted “Hallelujah!”

Then the presenter started inviting people to give testimonials and it became fairly obvious that there were only three of us who were not already members of the scheme.

Lovely to have so many people forming a community and supporting my friend who had hosted the event.

And while I felt uncomfortable sitting at the front, the herd force wasn’t as powerful as my first experience because I had gone in without any hopes.

At the earlier event I had been drawn by a particular suggestion in the marketing.

The herd instinct is a strong force for persuasion, especially in the unsure or vulnerable.


Have you been in an audience and felt the force of it?

Perhaps you have been a shepherd, using the force – hopefully with more subtlety and integrity than those I experienced!

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[Quick public speaking tip] 3 Ways that Listening is key if you are speaking to persuade

It’s not just speaking … when we speak to persuade.

Successful persuasion also lies in the ability to actively listen, even in the field of public speaking.


Successful speaking to persuade relies on knowing your audience.

What are their needs and wants.

How are they thinking about your proposal.

What are they likely to favour about it?

What is going to stand in the way of them being persuaded?

What are their doubts?

What are their objections?

What are the obstacles to them moving forward with your suggestions?

Listen to them – before the presentation – survey them, talk to them, ask the event organiser about the – and listen.

Listen to them – during the presentation – ask them questions – and listen.

Successful speaking to persuade relies on seeing moments where you can gain agreement – maybe a comment or question from your audience, a situation from which you can draw an analogy, maybe a report back from a group discussion.

Listen for those and keep a line of thinking open that will allow you to use those moments to really amp up the energy of your speaking response.

Successful speaking to persuade relies on your being adaptable. It’s one of the lessons I teach in my workshops and seminars on PowerPoint. Be prepared to change the course or direction of your presentation. If it seems that your audience puts value on one point or discussion over another, or if the feedback, comments or discussion suggests that a different direction would wok best, then be prepared to change the structure of the presentation that you had prepared in advance.

This means that not only is your structure working for you. It also means that you are building trust. You care enough about your audience to change direction for them and you are confident enough in your material and your beliefs to change direction for them.

Listen, then to their comments, to their suggestions and the tone of their discussions.

So I have covered three areas of listening that will build the success of your persuasive speaking – knowing your audience, watching for opportunities to ramp up the energy and being adaptable.

Do you use any other listening techniques to successfully persuade?

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[Quick Public Speaking Tip] “Speaking is selling”


“Speaking is selling”

It’s an ugly phrase, that. I feel its ugliness.

Speaking is pure – a mixture of art and science.

Selling – urgh – ugly – involves low-down, dirty manipulation, something that forces its recipients and audiences to put up barriers against trust and hope and good taste – at best a game with winners and losers.


Well, I have to say that’s a common feeling.

We start out with a fabulous idea. It makes us feel good and full of light. It’s going to change the world.

It might be an idea that will make people feel better, live better, or make the world a better place.

It might even be a product or program that will also make an income for us doing what makes us feel good and full of light instead of dull and bored and chained to a desk.

And then we discover that people do not necessarily come running to be part of that beautiful idea.

It’s going to involve persuasion and marketing … and … selling – and that doesn’t necessarily mean selling, as in asking for money for a product.

It can just mean selling the vision, the idea so that people change their minds, think differently, act differently – persuasion – just another form of that ugly manipulation, really.

What if …

What if …

we could shine that light out into the minds of the audience?

What if …

What if …

we could shine that light as an inspiration, a source of hope, an answer?

What if …

What if …

it illuminated a vision those audience members already had – buried beneath a deep, heavy layer of doubt and self-distrust and painful sense of failure?

Not so ugly?

Not so shameful?

Not so manipulative?

“Speaking is inspiring”!

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[Quotation about public speaking] Public speaking will have its place

“As long as there are human rights to be defended; as long as there are great interests to be guarded; as long as the welfare of nations is a matter for discussion so long will public speaking have it place.” ~ William Jennings Bryan

Public speaking has its place

In my current obsession with storytelling, I have discovered a Hopi Proverb which says the “Those who tell the stories rule the world.”

Leaders everywhere are those who give their followers something to believe in, a narrative that explains the present and paints a future.

And leaders are not just those in government or religion.

They lead in business, they lead in our institutions, they lead in our families.

We all have the capacity to be a leader at some time.

I am only thankful that the skills of public speaking are there to give us the power to lead and to create a world with values that we can uphold.

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For when you really have to get your point across…


Thank You for Arguing is your master class in the art of persuasion, taught by professors ranging from Bart Simpson to Winston Churchill.

The time-tested secrets this book discloses include Cicero’s three-step strategy for moving an audience to action—as well as Honest Abe’s Shameless Trick of lowering an audience’s expectations by pretending to be unpolished. But it’s also replete with contemporary techniques such as politicians’ use of “code” language to appeal to specific groups and an eye-opening assortment of popular-culture dodges—including The Yoda Technique, The Belushi Paradigm, and The Eddie Haskell Ploy.

Whether you’re an inveterate lover of language books or just want to win a lot more anger-free arguments on the page, at the podium, or over a beer, Thank You for Arguing is for you. Written by one of today’s most popular language mavens, it’s warm, witty, erudite, and truly enlightening. It not only teaches you how to recognize a paralipsis and a chiasmus when you hear them, but also how to wield such handy and persuasive weapons the next time you really, really want to get your own way.

JAY HEINRICHS spent 25 years as a journalist and publishing executive before becoming a fulltime advocate for the lost art of rhetoric. Since then he’s taught persuasion to Fortune 500 companies, Ivy League universities, NASA, and the Pentagon. He is also the author of “Word Hero: A Fiendishly Clever Guide to Crafting the Lines that Get Laughs, Go Viral, and Live Forever.”

Buy the book


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Words – the powerful persuasive potion

“Words are, of course, the most powerful drug used by mankind.”
― Rudyard Kipling

Is it a drug you need to persuade people when you speak?

We spend a lot of our time speaking to persuade – persuade people to adopt our ideas, persuade them to buy our products or services, persuade them to employ our skills – sometimes just to pick up their towels from the bath room floor.

Is it a drug you need when you want to persuade?

We can drug ourselves into belief with the stories we tell ourselves.

Undoubtedly we can drug our audiences into belief just as well with the power of words.

We can create emotion with words. And emotion is one of the most powerful persuasion devices there is.

We can build a relationship with a audience to take them with us into the behaviour we want.

Let’s start with emotion.

You can attach emotion to an idea with words that will give it a positive energy or a negative energy or remove either of those.

Associate an idea with positive words and make it attractive. We would all rather a glass half full than a glass half empty. Generally we prefer something with the words “New and Improved” attached. Advertisers use adjectives that build the positives of their products – adjectives like more, increased, amazing, best, fastest, greatest. And I would far rather take up reading, if I were a child, if I knew it would give me a pleasant experience rather that because it would keep me out of mischief.

Reduce the negativities of an idea by using words that diminish that side. So we refer to “layoffs” rather than “downsizing”. We refer to “Intensive Interrogation techniques” rather than “torture” and refer to “used” Aston Martins as “pre-owned”.

On the other hand, associate certain words with a person or an idea and create a negativity around them. Adjectives again, like “infamous”, “malicious” and “stingy” all attach an emotional negativity.

These are powerful emotional drugs to use in persuasion.

Underlying this communication, though, are the word choices you can make that build your credibility for your audience and encourage their trust.

Perhaps the most important word you can use is “You”. Every audience member needs to feel that they are the centre of your attention and that meeting their needs is your prime objective. Focus on using the word “You” and you are forcibly reminded to turn your own thinking and your language that way.

Beyond this, though, the best words to use are “we”, “together” and “us” because they give the impression that you and your audience are of one mind, working towards the same outcome. Take them with you to that outcome. Speak to them, too, in their own language, avoiding words they might not understand and jargon that excludes them.

Validate them and their ideas whenever you can. Use words like “Thank you” and appreciate”.

We have talked already about the adjectives you can use for various reasons. Try to avoid adverbs. Use, instead, very evocative verbs.

Mark Twain again –
“The difference between the almost right word and the right word is really a large matter—’tis the difference between the lightning-bug and the lightning.”

What can you use instead of “said”, for example? “Whispered” or “screamed” will communicate far more useful emotion. This is so much more effective than “said quietly” or “said loudly”. It also uses fewer words. We often associate verbosity with someone who is trying to cover something. So to build trust, keep it simple and use simple powerful words.

Now, how to reword my requests about those bath towels??!!

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Power Cues: The Subtle Science of Leading Groups, Persuading Others, and Maximizing Your Personal Impact

Power Cues: The Subtle Science of Leading Groups, Persuading Others, and Maximizing Your Personal Impact

Nick Morgan

ISBN 978-1422193501
Format Hardcover
Publisher Harvard Business Review Press
Published 2014-05-13

Take control of your communications — before someone else does

What if someone told you that your behavior was controlled by a powerful, invisible force? Most of us would be skeptical of such a claim—but it’s largely true. Our brains are constantly transmitting and receiving signals of which we are unaware. Studies show that these constant inputs drive the great majority of our decisions about what to do next—and we become conscious of the decisions only after we start acting on them. Many may find that disturbing. But the implications for leadership are profound.

In this provocative yet practical book, renowned speaking coach and communication expert Nick Morgan highlights recent research that shows how humans are programmed to respond to the nonverbal cues of others—subtle gestures, sounds, and signals—that elicit emotion. He then provides a clear, useful framework of seven “power cues” that will be essential for any leader in business, the public sector, or almost any context. You’ll learn crucial skills, from measuring nonverbal signs of confidence, to the art and practice of gestures and vocal tones, to figuring out what your gut is really telling you.

This concise and engaging guide will help leaders and aspiring leaders of all stripes to connect powerfully, communicate more effectively, and command influence.

nick_morganAbout the Author: Nick Morgan, founder of Public Words Inc., is one of America’s top communication and speech coaches. He is a former Fellow at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government, where he was affiliated with the school’s Center for Public Leadership. From 1998 to 2003, he served as editor of the Harvard Management Communication Letter. He is the author of the acclaimed book, Working the Room, reprinted in paperback as Give Your Speech, Change the World.

Buy the book



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He speaks our language!!

I just loved this presentation, this speech – not just his style, but his content, based around our culture and our language – so wise and so hilarious.

Persuasion/inspiration/information/entertainment at its best!

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How to win audience support for your cause

“In public speaking, we must appeal either to the prejudices of others, or to the love of truth and justice. If we think merely of displaying our own ability, we shall ruin every cause we undertake.”

William Hazlitt