Michael Port is called the “uncommonly honest author” by the Boston Globe and “marketing guru” by The Wall Street Journal, Michael is a NY Times Best-selling author of six books.
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Topics covered during our chat
1. What’s your step-by-step advice for creating content for a speech?
- Brain dump everything you know on the content topic.
- Organize the brain dump by compartmentalizing related ideas.
- Note your direct experiences that relate to your main topic.
- Gather the direct data, either anecdotal or scientific, that support your topic.
- Identify any holes, or vulnerabilities of logic, or persuasiveness in your content.
- Let the editing process begin.
- Cut, cut, cut! …Your audience often needs a lot less information to get to the “AHA” moment than you might think.
2. What’s the best way to create a powerful opening?
Bottom line: cut to the chase.
Don’t waste time with filler such as, “I’m so happy to be here.”
What’s the alternative, that you’re pissed off you’re there? Show them you are happy to be there.
This is art; there isn’t one way to make it. If you’re relaxed and can smoothly move right into your presentation, you’ll be fine.
3. How can I tell stories that have the audience on the edge of their seat?
The three-act structure is likely the most helpful storytelling structure:
- Act One: The given circumstance. Setting, time, and place.
- Act Two: The conflict. There’s a struggle or an obstacle in the way.
- Act Three: The resolution. A change. Progress. A transformation.
4. Um, like, so… how can I stop my habits of using filler words?
It’s a common nervous habit to use filler words. The better rehearsed you are, the less you will use them.
The need to rehearse…
5. Yikes! My mind blanked in the middle of my presentation. Now what?
Stay connected to the audience.
Create an unexpected moment out of it.
If you’re well rehearsed, your material will come back to you.
It seems contradictory, but the more you look at the audience rather than the floor or the ceiling, the faster you’ll recall what to say next. Plus, the more relaxed you remain, the easier it will come to you.
6. What is biggest mistake in public speaking and how can I avoid it?
The biggest mistake a public speaker can make – and often does make – is under-estimating the importance of rehearsal.
It’s more than just the repetition of it. Effective rehearsals are the best way to reduce anxiety and ultimately steal the show.
My seven-step process for successful rehearsals that turn into great performances:
1. Table reads;
2. Content mapping;
3. Blocking (I also address props, costumes, and use of multi-media);
4. Improvisation and rewriting;
5. An invited rehearsal (maybe even with a coach or peer with actual training);
6. Open rehearsal – with people in your target audience;
7. I feel lost on stage. Where’s the best place to stand and what I do with my hands when talking?
For most speeches, if you can, try to avoid speaking from behind a podium – or any type of furniture, for that matter. It puts a barrier between you and the audience. People will often choose to stay behind a podium as a way of hiding from the audience, or simply because they need to “read” their speech.
Instead, have a well-rehearse speech and learn blocking.
Blocking is the term used for how you will move during your performance.
If a speech is not blocked or rehearsed, you can see the telltale signs.
Typically you’ll see the speaker: pacing or wandering around the stage; hiding behind the podium or other props; or continually looking down at the ground or at the computer screen.
When you block your movement, you’re moving in a way that enhances your message and creates dynamics through contrast.
It actually also helps you remember your material because it anchors it in different parts of the stage, and you can continue to revisit that part of the stage when unpacking that content.
There are some basic blocking no – no’s:
- Don’t spend too much time close to the front row if you are not on a stage;
- Don’t spend too much time in one part of the stage;
- Don’t present in the dark – “finding your light” is a theater term for making sure that you are always lit.
As for your hands, don’t worry about them.
If you’re truly connected to your audience and are passionately working to deliver on the promise of your speech, you won’t be thinking about your hands, and they’ll do exactly what they’re supposed to do.
8. How can I attract clients through my speeches?
In my work with Book Yourself Solid, I talk about people buying in proportion to the amount of trust that you have earned from them.
Build trust with them throughout your presentation.
Demonstrate through your presentation that you are the category expert, be likable and trustworthy.
Audience interaction is a great way to establish this.
I identify five types of audience interaction:
1. Ice breakers and trust builders;
2. Reminders and reinforcers;
3. Role players;
4. Creative, high-contrast exercises;
5. Q&A Tips and Traps.
9. How can I motivate my audience to take action after my presentation?
(i.e. follow me on Facebook, sign up for an online program, buy a book in the back of the room…)
This process is actually set in the first stage of preparing for a presentation.
This simple five-step exercise will help:
1. What type of performance are you going to give?
2. Who is the audience?
3. How will your audience benefit from the performance?
4. What is your call to action? Identify this and begin to craft your performance around it.
5. How can you leverage your performance?
Of course, whatever your call to action may be, make sure you reinforce it before the applause at the end.
10. Can you really guarantee that I can get a standing ovation?
…If so, please tell me how!
Have them stand up at the end of your presentation before you do your close.
Seriously. Yes, it’s a wee bit manufactured… but so is all show biz.
11. What’s the best way to close a speech to leave a lasting impression?
Closing your speech or presentation might even be more important than the opening.
Avoid saying, “if you remember nothing else, remember, X.” It gives the audience the impression that the performance could have been delivered in that one line.
If you’re presenting a curriculum-based speech, you need to provide a concise yet comprehensive short review of all the audience has learned without going into every detail.
12. What’s the best way to conduct a meaningful Q&A session for my audience?
…And how can I avoid an audience member hijacking the microphone?
A skilled speaker and performer needs to professionally manage their Q&A sessions after a speech.
My recommendation is not to take questions at the end. It’s better if the Q&A is a separate segment, if possible.
In most cases, your Q&A will include lots of relevant, on-topic questions. Make your answers super-specific, crisp, and short.
If you have a questioner who is confrontational or won’t give up the mic, you can be gentle or fierce and need to have the discernment to know which is required and when.
Say, “Thank you, I’m going to take the next question,” and take the floor back.
13. How can I “Steal the Show” in my personal life?
I’m great when delivering business presentations, but I completely clam up on a date or when giving a toast to my own family. How can I “Steal the Show” in my personal life?
In Steal the Show, you’ll discover the role you want to play in the show that is your own life.
You’ll decide whether you are up for a leading or supporting role.
Often we make the choice to play small, when we haven’t given ourselves the chance to see the big opportunities in front of us.
You first need to identify the roles you want to play in your life and which roles you want to “retire.”
If you want to improve your dating game, then think about what that role would look like and start acting as if.
14. There’s so much competition for jobs now; can I use these tips to rock an interview?
Identify the role you want to play and start acting as if.
It’s also important to stay in the moment.
Pay attention with all your sense so you can adapt accordingly.
If you’re being interviewed by an executive who looks exhausted, makes poor eye contact while slurping a massive cappuccino with a half-eaten sandwich on his desk, then these are all real facts that you should notice as they will affect your performance.
Michael Port: Absolutely.
Interviewer: Yes. Called uncommonly honest author by the Boston Globe is marketing guru by the Wall Street Journal; Michael is a New York Times bestselling author of six books. Michael, take a minute. Fill in some gaps in that intro and give us a little glimpse into your personal life.
Michael Port: I am a regular guy like I think most people who are listening. I think I got a beautiful fiancé, I was just engaged recently and we'll be married soon.
Michael Port: Thank you very much and I've got one child from my first marriage and two soon to be stepchildren and I love them all dearly. I spend as much time as I can on my boat, I am obsessed with water and boating but I work really hard. I really care about this work, I will go to the ends of the Earth for the people that I serve and you've only got one life to live so do it up, light it on fire.
Interviewer: Well, I will say that everybody who is served by you Michael Port is a lucky person. I mean I'm gonna point everybody back right now to episode 756, that's 303 episodes ago which is crazy to think, Michael, that it was that long ago that you were on because it feels like yesterday but you rocked the mic that day and you shared an amazing journey, your worst moments, your aha moments, all the goodness that you had going on. So, Fire Nation, just go to eofire.com and the search bar just type in the word Michael or Port or both and that will take you right there.
That's a story you don't wanna miss and today we're gonna be doing something a little bit different and I am personally really excited about this Michael and I don't even think you know this yet because we didn't talk about it in the pre-interview chats but Fire Nation, we're talking about the speaking and performance side of being an entrepreneur and the reason why I'm excited in Michael is because in exactly five days from when you and I were talking, I'm keynoting podcasts movements in Fort Worth, Texas which is gonna be in front of over 1000 people. So, it's gonna be a massive audience and we're gonna be talking about the speaking and performance side of being an entrepreneur.
So, you better believe that I'm gonna be taking some of these great tips you're dropping today and putting them into my talk this coming Saturday and forward. So, little side note, I'm a little excited for that and I'm gonna just kind of pass it over to you right now because I know a lot of peoples number one phobia in the world is public speaking even before death which is pretty crazy. So, what would you say your step by step advice is for even creating the content for that speech? Do you even get peoples mind wrapped around starting?
Michael Port: Sure, we'll let's start with where this fear comes from because the fear is self-imposed. I think the fear is self-absorbed fear. Now, hang on with me, bear with me because I'm not insulting anybody, what I'm saying is this and I've been there I've definitely been there and sometimes I still go there but I really try not to. If you are thinking about yourself before you walk on stage you are often anxious. If you are thinking about the audience and being in service to them and delivering on the promise you make to them then you are less nervous because if you focus on results then you have something to focus on.
If you focus on approval, then you're focusing on this, I don't wanna be rejected, I don't want anybody to laugh at me, I don't want them to realize that I'm a fraud or think what are they doing up there and if you focus on approval over results then you continue to increase the anxiety and you become more self-absorbed which means focused on yourself which then of course produces more and more anxiety.
So, what I say is this, it's very simple. Focus on being helpful. Always focus on being helpful and you'll be less anxious and be much better prepared because most people think of rehearsal for a speech as something you do maybe once or twice in your head the week before you give the speech or rehearsal to them is creating a slide deck and then sort of working out some ideas around the slide deck and then figuring you know what, I'll come up with the good things to say during the speech which doesn't really happen very often. I think in the marines they say you don't rise to the occasion you fall back on your training, I think the same thing is true for performance.
I have a master’s in fine arts from NYU from the graduate acting program in NYU and I spent three years training in classical theater. Then I work professionally as an actor in both TV, film, and I did hundreds of voice overs, that was my bread and butter during those days and so when I started speaking professionally I already had a craft. I had a skill set that allowed me to perform on stage. I just need to create the content. Now, if you're new to speaking then you may need to work on creating signature intellectual property signature content and also work on the performance skills. So, both of those are just as important. One does not trump the other.
So, when you're thinking about creating content for a speech, start with the brain dump, everything you know about the topic, start with the brain dump and that may take a couple of days, may even take longer than that but then no. 2, you organize the brain dump by compartmentalizing related ideas and I'll give you a couple of frameworks in a minute to help you do that. Then, your direct experiences that relate to your main topic. So, that's your direct experiences that relate to your main topic. Then you gather all of the direct data that's anecdotal or scientific that supports your topic.
Then you start to look for holes or vulnerabilities in the logic or the persuasiveness of your content and then you start editing and then once you put it up on its feet you cut, cut, cut because often the audience needs a lot less information to get the aha moment than you think they might. Now, there are a number of frameworks that you can use to help compartmentalize your related idea and the more organized your information, the more of an expert you are perceived to be. So, there are a few frameworks that you can use to help organize your content.
No. 1, the numerical framework, very popular, Steven Covey, Seven Habits of Highly Effective People is a great example and I'll use books as an example because most of us have read the same books but we haven't all seen the same speeches. So, we have a shared context this way. So, that's one particular example of a framework that you can use. Seven keys, seven rules, seven habits and you don't need to deliver them in the same way, you don't need to deliver all of them. You can deliver a few of them. So, you have a lot of flexibility in the way that you design your speech and the formats in which you deliver it. The next framework is the chronological framework. So, that's a step by step type framework. First this, then this, then this and of course there's often a numerical component. You may have three steps, five steps and the chronological format requires that you go in order.
So, you have the numerical framework, no order, you have the chronological order, a step by step order, then you have a modular framework and often a modular framework is very effective. It's either a number of modules or a number of parts and if you have a lot of content that you need to organize into a easier to consume framework then the modular framework works very, very well. I use this for both Book Yourself Solid, which is what we talked about on our last time I was here, and I also used it for my new book, Steal the Show, and that has three parts which is the same as three modules.
Three parts and the first part I focus on the performers’ mindset because we need to get that right before we start performing. Then the second part I focus on performance principles and interestingly enough I use a numerical framework inside that part. You see how you can combine frameworks and then for the third part it's really a tour de force, a master class in public speaking and that is in a chronological framework, first this, then this, then this. So, you can combine these different frameworks as your content gets bigger and bigger and more comprehensive.
So, you have the numerical, you have the chronological, you have the modular, and then you have a problem solution. You can have a problem solution that is also used as a numerical. So, I have ten problems to solve. There are ten problems that you run into when you try to do X. So, here's a solution for each one. Problem solution, problem solution, problem solution and then finally and certainly not least but last nonetheless is the compare and contrast framework where you compare and contrast different ideas or say for example in good to great.
Jim Collins prepares good companies and great companies and he shows you what's different about them so you can make sure that that difference exists in your company. So, let me give you some more examples of these different frameworks. So, I gave you Steven Covey’s Seven Habits of Highly Effective People and then the steps, let me give you an example. Book Yourself Solid is a perfect example of both modular and chronological framework together. You can also look at a chronological framework book that is Your Pregnancy Week by Week by Glade Curtis because you don't really want to learn about week 30 when you're in week 15. You got to stay where you are and then as I mentioned, Jim Collins you have the good to great book and then the problem solution is a book called Why Parents Love Too Much and it demonstrates here well if you love too much, here are the problems you're gonna create and here are the solutions for those problems.
So, those frameworks give you a way in and then you can start the brain dumping and the organizing and the noting the direct experiences and gathering the correct data anecdotal or scientific and then you identify any holes or vulnerabilities because if you have holes or vulnerabilities the audience is gonna wanna poke at that because if you're asking them to change something or to do something difficult it's a lot easier to say I see a hole in your argument here than to listen to what is sound and valid that they can actually do something with because it's confronting.
Interviewer: So, Fire Nation you're gonna have all of this and so much more in the show notes page and of course we're gonna link to Steal the Show which really breaks us down in an incredibly powerful way and I will say Michael, this next point hits a little too close to home. I mean I'm very comfortable on stage personally, I've given hundreds of talk on stage and thousands of podcasts now but man, looking at this no. 2 points, I've been doing this wrong and it kind of hurts but I'm glad I have you here now so we can maybe help me fix my talk on Saturday. What's the best way to create a powerful opening and you do say don't waste time with fillers such as I'm so happy to be here and I feel like unfortunately that's my go to, you can kind of picture me smiling, walking on stage, I bring my arms out like I'm about to hug the audience and I'm like I am so happy to be here and why is that bad?
Michael Port: I use that as an example. It's not the worst thing in the world to say I'm so happy to be here but I use that in the example because what's the alternative, that you're really pissed off that you're there so of course you're happy to be there. I say show them. I say don't waste any time with filler like I'm happy to be here or some banter about how I flew in from Idaho and boy my arms are tired. If there's anything, if you talk about anything before at the beginning and then you say okay, let's get started, that means whatever happened before you said let's get started was a waste of time and the audience does not want their time wasted at all.
So, show them that you're happy to be there, cut to the chase, don't waste time with filler and you don't have to start a presentation with a story. This is one of the things that you often see taught. Well, stories are so powerful, the brain is hardwired for stories, it's a human connection and of course we know all of this but if you start a presentation with a story, that story better be killer, that story better crush because if it doesn't then it's okay, here's the speaker with a story that starts off the presentation like the guy before that there's always the story and then it doesn't work that well but if the story really works then it's great. So, it's always about what works, not what's right. That's what's important.
I don't believe there's any one way to do this kind of work because to me it is art, it is art and there isn't one way to do it. So, what we're trying to do is we're trying to understand what the rules are and break the rules to build something in its place. You can be a critic or you can be a performer but you can't be both, this is important. You can be a critic or a performer but you can't be both and if you're a critic then you just find problems. If you're a performer then you just find solutions, you find ways to break the – with the way things are typically done and improve and one of the simplest ways to do that is by coming out and starting smoothly right into your presentation and you'll be fine and it could simply be this, introducing them to the big idea behind your speech, simple as that.
Demonstrating the promise of the speech, demonstrating the consequences of not adopting this new world view or embracing this new idea and of course introducing the rewards of doing so because the audience needs to know that you know the way the world looks to them that you're on the same page as them and connecting with them around that right away is absolutely wonderful and I also think what I just did is an example of a way to start a speech by talking to them about you don't believe there is any one way to do anything.
For example, when I start say my book, Book Yourself Solid speech, I'm often introduced – well, not often, I'm always introduced with a bio that I give and ask to be read and I always require it to be read word for word and we can talk about why if you want in the importance of prepping the person who's doing that introduction and why it matters so much but it's impressive, the bio's got some good street cred info in it and so you know, people – I can come out and people be like alright, who's this big shot that's coming to speak to us.
So, the first thing I say is hey guys, listen, let me ask you a question, I ask them to lean in actually. I say lean in for a second because I have a secret that I want to tell you and I don't want any of the other authors to hear and of course the other authors are there so everybody knows it's got to – okay, what's he gonna do, what's he gonna do, this could be a little bit cheeky and if somebody does not lean in, let's say there's 1,000 people there and there's one person who doesn't lean in, I wait and stop and say even you, come on, everybody because they – if you ask the audience to do something you need to wait until they all do it or else they take the room away from you, you need to own the room and you do it with a smile and you do it with a charm and you have fun with it but you need to own that room. So, I ask them to lean in, why, because I want to speak quietly, and I want them moving in towards me.
Then I say how can you tell how much BS exists in any one particular field or industry and there's a big pause and they think about it and then I say count the number of books written about it and they laugh and then I say and I've written six so what does that tell you and then they laugh harder and I say no, listen, I tell you this because my promise to you is I'm gonna keep as much BS out of this presentation as I possibly can and I don't think there's any one way to do anything. So, I'm gonna give you some ideas, I'm gonna give you my way of seeing the world, some of it you're gonna resonate with, some of it you might not but something you don't resonate with today might strike you as relevant in a week. So, boom and then we're into it, it's really simple and now obviously I start out with a little bit of a joke but I don't – not everybody should start out with a joke, not everybody feels really comfortable telling jokes.
Interviewer: I'm not funny.
Michael Port: I think you're funny, I do, I think you're funny and I think if you're gonna tell a joke you need to know that joke inside and out. I mean this is the thing you know. The other thing that I think gets people hung up that makes them so anxious is they're just not prepared and they think that because they experience something like something happened to them they can tell that story in front of an audience without rehearsing it because it actually happened but telling a story in front of an audience is traumatically different than telling your friend about it after it happened.
Interviewer: So, Michael, you talked about stories and you did say that it's not always wise to lead one, you can if you absolutely crush but the reality of stories can be very powerful within the presentation as well. So, I'd love to know, how can I tell stories that actually have the audience on the edge of their seats whether it be in the opening or placed somewhere in the middle or towards the end?
Michael Port: So, when you tell a story, make sure that you write that story. You want to get to the point where you can tell that story the same way every time. Of course you'll add a little bit here and there, you might have some things that are different but for the most part it's the same story because a story is not something that you can generally just adlib and the way that you organize that story allows you to rehearse it so that it is perfect and you use Aristotle’s three act structure. It is the structure in which most that most playwrights use to organize plays. It is a structure that's often used in films. It is of course as I said Aristotle’s. It is not mine.
Most stories are just like plays or movies. They have three acts and act one you introduce the given circumstances, the setting, the time, the place, the way the world looks, the things that the audience needs to know about, the characters in the story or the setting of the story. Now, without proper exposition the story goes nowhere because the audience can't follow. Too much exposition and the audience gets bored, they're like alright, get on with it, let's go. So, act one is the given circumstances, you want to use as little exposition as you possibly can to get the time setting and circumstances set just as little as you can but enough to make sure that they're clear. Act two is the conflict.
So, there's a struggle, there's an obstacle in the way, something happens, there's an exciting moment of some kind that changes things and this is where the tension builds. The majority of your story is in act two and you're consistently trying to raise the stakes. I talk a lot about raising the stakes in the second part of the book because if we want to raise this – if we want to do anything in a big way, if we want people to pay attention to what we're doing, if we want to accomplish big goals. If we want to enthrall an audience, we need to raise the stakes. Take more risks and the higher the stakes are in the story, the more interesting the story.
The story is like hey, I went to get a piece of pizza, that's the story, there's no stakes, nothing happened. I went to get a piece of pizza and as soon as I got in there a guy walks in with a gun in a mask points it at my head, ooh. Well, now the stakes are high. Okay, so those are two very different stories. I'm not interested in the first story. I went to get a piece of pizza. And? Right, I don't care about that story. I went to get a piece of pizza, a guy walks in with a black mask and a gun and he points it at my head, holy, what happened? That's what I want to know.
So, that's the conflict and you want to keep increasing the tension and make one conflict after another conflict after another conflict. So, first he points the gun at my head, next thing he does is he kicks me in the leg and he puts me down on my knees. Okay, well next it keeps building and building and building. So, that's what the majority of the story occurs. Then in act three you have a resolution, change, progress, some sort of transformation.
Now, the resolution in a joke is the punchline and a joke often follows the same structure as a story. Here's the world, here's the thing that happened, and here's the punchline. So, the punchline or the resolution has got to be worth waiting for. If it's huge conflict, the resolution is kind of mundane like oh, that's what happened, okay, oh, well, alright. For example if the guy comes into the store with a gun, there's always conflict around it and then he all of a sudden he turns around and walks out.
Interviewer: That's a letdown.
Michael Port: Okay, that's a letdown. But if it's a story where you decide you've never been in a fight in your life, you're scrawny and little and weak but you decide today I'm gonna do something, today I'm gonna stand up for myself and you take out that guy. Well, there's a resolution that's worth waiting for. So, when you're working on these stories, they need to be crafted, sculpted, molded so that resolution is worth waiting for and if it's not a big resolution that story should be short. If that resolution is huge, if it's powerful, then the story can get longer and longer and build and build and build. There's a story that I often close, Book Yourself Solid with that is a four and a half minute story, that's a long story but the punchline always delivers and so I'm working tension, tension, tension, setting up, setting up, setting up and getting to that punchline.
Interviewer: So, act one, setting time place, Fire Nation, act two, the conflict, act three is that resolution, that transformation that actually happens like so how can I stop my habits of using filler words?
Michael Port: Look, here's the thing, we will use filler words. I think the idea that we can get rid of every filler word we ever use, it's possible but it would take a lot more work than I think is necessary. However, we use fewer filler words when we know what we're talking about and we've planned what we're talking about. Now, some of us still have habits, we'll say stuff like right, you know, which is okay once in a while but if it becomes a habit, if it is redundant then it can start to get on the nerves of the audience. So, one of the things you can do is you can record yourself and then listen back in your recordings and listen for how many times you use words that are filler words like, sort of, kind of, basically, right. They're weak words. If you ask me if I'm a startup, if I have a startup and you ask me what kind of product are you guys creating and I say well, it's basically, a bike that has –
Interviewer: You've already lost me.
Michael Port: You lost me. My product is this. It's not basically anything. What's the name of your speech? Well, it's basically – what's your speech about? Well, it's basically this. No, it's not basically this, it's exactly this. So, we need to make sure that we can move those filler words out of our language but if you can record yourself and listen back then you can start to work on – working into the microphone again, record, listen back, work into the microphone again, record, listen back, work into microphone again, record, listen back and then ask the people around you to slap you every time you use a particular word.
So, if you end your sentences with right, then ask the people who live in your house to give you a spanking every time you say it and obviously I'm being cheeky here but I don't think it's a bad idea to have some sort of consequence associated with using those words because then you will stop using them because you'll recognize often they become ingrained in us and we don't even realize that we're using them.
Interviewer: It's so true and I will admit something a little cheeky myself. I watched the last episode of The Bachelor and during that season –
Michael Port: What, what, what?
Interviewer: During that season, they had a jar called the amazing jar and anytime anybody said the word amazing, they had to put a dollar into that jar and every single episode there's like 50 amazing’s. This steak was so amazing. He's so amazing.
Michael Port: Wait, Johnny, there were like 50?
Interviewer: That's my like jar. That's my like jar.
Michael Port: Amazing is a very popular word right now. It is something that we hear people say a lot and I think it's great that there is an amazing jar because it is a word that is often used and it's not particularly descriptive. So, what we're looking for are words that are descriptive, that have visuals associated with them rather than relying on relatively weak or non-descriptive words. Let me give you another thing to consider.
Michael Port: One of the things you just said was that every single week they put money in or they put something in this amazing jar and in that particular case it may be true that every episode they put something in the jar. However, often when we're giving speeches we use absolutes that are not absolute. We will often say everybody does this or it's always this way or you have to do this. Well, I don't have to do that, I'm not sure every – if I said – listen, nobody likes earwax flavored ice cream. That seems like a sensible thing to say but in actuality it may not be true.
So, you know, I think, I remember this kid, Fritz, that I went to grammar school with, he picked his ear and ate it all the time and it was weird, I bet he likes earwax flavored ice cream and I use that as another cheeky example but I think you get the point is that all generalities are false including that one and when you use absolutes you can then actually put holes in your argument. When you use absolutes you can put holes in your argument because it gives the audience an opportunity to think of an alternative, to think of something contrary to what you just declared but if you use words that leave room for alternate opinions, if you say often people do this, very often people do this, it seems like this, you might consider this, it's possible that this.
Now, the marketer will say, no, no, no, never do that because you have to tell them it's always this way, you have to do it this way because then that's better for sales. I'm not interested in that, I'm interested in what is honest on the stage and I'm interested in making sure that you can get your message across because again, as I said earlier if you're asking people to change the way they see the world, if you're asking them to do things that are difficult, if you're asking them to feel something that they haven't felt before, it may be confronting to them and even if they like you, even if they think you're clever and charming, they may resist doing it because it's difficult for them and if you give them a reason to resist, they might actually resist.
Do you see how I put a might in there? Because often what people would do is say they will resist. Well, they might not resist, they might come along with you but often they'll resist. So, what we're doing is we're allowing for alternative viewpoints, we're allowing for room for that individual to think for themselves and then they might be more likely to adopt your argument.
Interviewer: This all points to the need to rehearse because when you called me out on using like and I was kind of thinking about well, why did I say like before 50. The reason is because I didn't know what number I was actually going to say so I was giving myself like half a second to come up with a number like 52 or like 48 or like 50 and I was just my use of the filler word because I haven't rehearsed this. So, Fire Nation, I hope you're seeing that this is all kind of pointing – this is all pointing back to the need to rehearse and the need to really take your talk seriously and Fire Nation, we have a lot of great stuff coming up but before we get there we're gonna take one minute to thank our sponsors.
So, Michael, we're back, you're dropping value bombs, left, right, down the center and one thing I would love to talk about next because I think I had this nightmare just a few nights ago. Yikes, my mind blanked and in the middle of my presentation I went absolutely blank. What now?
Michael Port: Stay connected to the audience. It's maybe scary but if you disconnect from the audience you may have more trouble remembering what comes next because you're disconnecting, if you stay with the audience because you were with them the moment before, your recall will likely be faster and they may not even know that you're mind blank. In fact, you might even be able to create an unexpected moment out of it. If you're well-rehearsed then your material will come back to you, your material will come back to you if you're well-rehearsed and so this way you're more relaxed, the more relaxed you are, the easier it will be to recall that information. Now, people often push back on the rehearsal. Especially people who are natural communicators who like to wing it because they feel comfortable up there winging it because they feel quick on their feet.
Interviewer: I'm kind of raising my hand right now, Michael. I hate to admit it.
Michael Port: Yeah, so you – I've had a – I work with a lot of A-listers and a lot of the A-listers get into public speaking performance because they are quick on their feet. So as a podcaster, you're about as quick on your feet as it gets so naturally you can go up there and you could give an entertaining presentation with lots of information without rehearsal but it will probably wander and it won't necessarily have a real clear through line and have lots of really specific organized takeaways that they can do something with.
Michael Port: But you could pull it off. You could pull it off and say you know what? Yeah, you know, Johnny was good. He was good but you could also, yeah, you could also have them going oh, my god, that blew my mind. Not only did I learn a ton but that was a performance. So back to the rehearsal thing, often when you feel like you have this gift of gab then you get worried about rehearsing because you feel like it will make you stiff and the reason that is, is because you may have tried rehearsing in the past but only done a little bit of rehearsing so you need information a little bit better than winging it but what happens is you're trying to recall that little bit of information when you're actually performing and that made you stiffer because it wasn't, it didn't live inside of you.
And then what happens is the person who wings it goes oh, well, it doesn't really work for me when I rehearse but they never rehearse to such an extent that they know it so well they can forget about it. They can throw it away as if they don't know what walk on stage recall it in the moment as if it was the first time they ever said it and it was completely natural. So you don't have to memorize word for word the speech. Some people do and it can work very well. Others don't and they can do just as well with a really clear outline, really strong bullets, really clear well-chosen, well-crafted stories inside and you know, really great anecdotal and empirical data, etc.
But that has to be memorized so you know exactly where it is and if you rely on your slides to know what comes next then I don't think you're rehearsed enough yet. The slides are something that you build after a presentation, not before a presentation if you use slides at all. So if you Book Yourself Solid, I'd use any slides and in part I'd use any slides just to prove my point since I teach performance, I need to demonstrate that I could do 90 minutes on stage, keep you on the edge of your seat without one visual because I can create the visual images in your mind through my words and actions and that's what we're working toward and we don't need to rely on visuals on the screen.
Plus you wanna be able to do a presentation without visuals because very often you'll have technical problems and those visuals will not be there for you and if you need them in order to know what comes next, you may be in trouble. So you can memorize word for word or you can create an outline and then work inside that outline. So if you Book Yourself Solid, I work inside an outline. There are four models with some book yourself, other four building blocks in module one, four in module two, two in module three, and six in module four and I work through all of them.
There are some things I say the same way every time because I know they work that way well for an audience. There are same stories that I'd tell each time in the same sections but there's a lot of ad lib inside of that. However the thing in revolution is a speech that I do that is memorized 100 percent. It's a 55 minute keynote. I know it word for word and that allows me to go up there and perform it flawlessly even if once in a while what was asked, I'm staying in the moment so I find it. It allows me to perform it flawlessly as if it was the first time I ever did it.
So when they were watching me, they have no idea that it's memorized. Obviously it's really quite a presentation and obviously he's put this together so he knows what he's gonna say but it doesn't sound like it's rehearsed. I mean it doesn't sound like it's memorized. It sounds like it's happening in the moment and that's what actors do. That's why you know, that's why still the show is based on acting techniques for non-actors that you can use not just for public speaking but in all the different performance situations of your life.
Interviewer: We do all these things that you're talking about. We do the rehearsal. We focus on really making sure that we know our lines A to Z and we're looking to get the most out of this and this is all a lot of work. I mean, Michael, this is a lot of work to get ready for one talk from stage. I think that's honestly one of the things I struggle with a little bit because there's always so many things that I can do for my business that are scalable, that are leveragable and I have to ask myself how much time can I spend on a talk that's gonna be in front of a group of people when you know, I could be doing so many other things as well or alternatively.
Michael Port: Yeah, this is the push back I sometimes get. They say you're asking a lot of me and I say I know I am. I know I'm asking a lot. To me, stage is a place of reverence. If you're given the stage and there's thousands of people in the room, let's say there's a thousand people in the room. I don't know how many there are in a podcast.
Interviewer: A thousand.
Michael Port: There's a thousand? Okay, there you go, thousand people in the room, that's a thousand hours of time for your one speech. Each person's hour is one hour. That's a thousand hours that you've been given and to me that is an honor so I look at that stage as a place where we are lucky to be, we're given that platform and if we're given that platform, I think we need to work pretty darn hard on the speeches that we're given because we have to deliver on a promise that we've made to that audience.
Now of course we can choose not to deliver it but then we probably won't be asked back and it won't be very good for our reputation. So if you're not giving me professional speaker, but if one is not gonna be a professional speaker and only once in a while they're gonna get a speech, you know, I'm not asking them to work 500 hours on something but I'm asking them to give more than they give now because even just a little more than they're doing now, that could be a big difference but if somebody is gonna be a professional speaker or do the keynotes at events with a thousand people etc., that is one of the most powerful things you can do for your business.
It is absolutely scalable, leveragable because the amount of awareness you're creating with your speaking is significant and then of course if you start getting paid 10, 20, 30, 40, $50,000.00 a speech, you're getting paid to market yourself at the same time. It's really quite an extraordinary concept if you think about it. So it all depends on what you're doing with it, what the goal is, what the purpose is and if it's just something you do once in a while, then you just put a little bit more effort into it, you'll do a good job and you'll feel more comfortable and it won't be an anxiety provoking experience.
But if you're gonna do it all the time as something that's a big part of your either marketing efforts or business development efforts or revenue generating efforts then I think it's something you spend a lot of time on and you don't create new speeches every time you go somewhere. You customize slightly for the audience based on the needs of that audience. However, you create a signature speech, one or two. One is Book Yourself Solid and one is the Think Big Revolution and then the new one coming out is Steal the Show, a Keynote in One Act which is very, very unusual and I wouldn't ask anybody to do something like that. It's more like a play.
I say like on purpose, more like a play. It is not actually a play. That is a hybrid between a play and a keynote so it is like nothing you've ever seen before but the Think Big Revolution is a one-man show whereas Book Yourself Solid is a curriculum based presentation so there are different types of presentations for different audiences but I don't do 15 different ones and if someone calls on us, Michael, can you do a presentation on X and it's not something that I do, I say no. I say I'll come and sit on a panel and you can do Q&A and I'll give you my thoughts on the questions that are asked but I won't do a keynote on it because if I'm gonna do a keynote, I want it to be a certain level.
Interviewer: That is the mindset, Fire Nation. We, and by we, I mean myself included, need to have when approaching these opportunities, specifically keynotes and speaking in front of large groups. Absolutely, I love that mindset shift of those 1,000 people or 1,000 hours. That's great. That's a phenomenal way to put it. So, I do it, Michael. I put in the time. I put in the effort. How can I actually motivate the audience to take action after the presentation you know, whether that be you know, on your Facebook or something from my online program or buying a book?
Michael Port: There’s a process that you can use and the process is actually set in the first stage of preparing for your presentation. This little bit is a five-step exercise that'll help you. So no. 1, what type of performance are you going to give? What type of performance are you gonna give? Are you giving a message speech or are you giving a curriculum-based speech? A message speech is one big idea then you have 15 minutes to introduce a new big idea. That's one big idea delivered as a message. A curriculum speech is a how to. It's like the 10 steps to setup a podcast and hit no. 1 on new [inaudible] [00:39:11] I'm just making that up.
So what kind of, what type of performance are you gonna give? No. 2, who's in the audience? Always we need to know this, who's in the audience? No. 3, how would your audience benefit from the performance? That's the promise. That's the big takeaway. No. 4, what is your call to action? To identify, we identify your call to action so that you can begin to craft the performance around that. When I say call to action, I don't mean go to the back of the room and buy this. I don't teach that kind of stuff. Call to action is what is the person in the audience going to do after the speech that is going to be based on the big idea of your presentation and will help them achieve the promise of the presentation?
And of course how can you leverage your performance? How can you turn that into something else? You know, maybe you do wanna sell some books at the back of the room. Well, how do you do that? Maybe you wanna get some clients to come and you know, some people to come and sign up for your newsletter or sign up for some free consulting with you. There are any number of things we could ask them to do at the end. If we want them to text a number, to get a free PDF with a whole bunch of resources and then sign up for a newsletter at the same time which is a wonderful tool by the way, this ability to text now, it's just extraordinary.
We're getting so many more things that we would really ever before right there in the middle of the speech. It's extraordinary but I use lead digits. There's number where the service is out there people can use for that. So the question is what do you want them to do and then how are you gonna get them to do it? It's just like a web page. Who's coming? What do they want them to do? How are you gonna get them to do it? There are hundreds of different techniques you can use to get people to do the things you want them to do but keep it very simple and focused on one thing that you want them to do.
Whatever your call to action is, make sure you reinforce it at the end before the applause. This is critical. Often people will end their speech. They go okay, I'm done and then they forget to say oh, meet me at the back of the room because I'm gonna be doing X, Y, and Z or I'll go have a round table at the bar tonight or I'm gonna be signing books at the back over here and for anybody that buys one book, they get a free copy of this. Sometimes they forget to do it and then they do it after the applause and people are already getting up walking away. So once the applause come, that's it. It's over. Don't say anything else. Take a big bow, smile, thank you. Kiss the audience I love you and then you get off stage.
Interviewer: There's a rumor, Michael Port, going around that you can guarantee a standing ovation. Now I will be honest, I have never gotten I would consider a true standing ovation. Definitely people in the audience stand up and clap after but it's never been that like raucous whole new type of thing. So can you guarantee that?
Michael Port: I can't guarantee the raucous, absolutely not but I usually as a little tiny cheek to demonstrate to you that all performance is performance. All performance is manufactured honestly though and I know this is one of those concepts especially if you end on, it's a little bit like what? What's he saying? We need to balance this idea that we are authentically performing and we're manufacturing an experience. That's performance. When you go to Cirque du Soleil, they are actually doing the things that you see them do but they're manufacturing it for your entertainment.
When you go to a movie and you watch Meryl Streep, she's actually feeling the things that you see her feeling but it's in a film that is manufactured for your entertainment and a speech is the same way on the stage. It is a manufactured experience for your entertainment that should also be authentic at the same time. So I use this guaranteed standing ovation to make a bit of a cheeky bit because if you want a standing ovation at the end, you can ask them to stand up before you finish and they'll be standing and they'll be clapping and you'll have a standing ovation.
It's all manufactured to a certain extent. I shouldn't say all manufactured to a certain extent. That's actually not what I'm gonna say. Performance is manufactured to a certain extent so for example, if you wanna thank the organizers at your event, at the end of your speech, we ask the audience stand up, let's give a round of applause to the organizers. Give a round of applause to the organizers. You say thank you very much, it was an honor to be here. I say I love you all but not in a weird way. I love you all for being the big thinkers that you are. Good night, God bless and boom, and they're standing up clapping and you're out.
So if you want a standing ovation, you can create a way for them to stand at the end and they will actually give you a standing ovation. Now, that is not the same thing as them leaping to their feet because they can't contain themselves anymore and you know, the thing about standing ovation is that often it's a couple people stand up and then some more people, some more people then some more people.
Interviewer: I can't sing. I might as well stand up.
Michael Port: Yeah, exactly so now everybody wants to stand up but they do it anyway. The thing is the people may want to stand up but if other people aren't doing it, they won't do it.
Michael Port: So if you just have a few people stand up and a few more will stand up, a few more will stand up, and a few more will stand up. One of the things I also do at the end of the presentation is I have them work through all of the key points that I've taught them standing on their feet in the last 10 minutes so they're up and moving in the last 10 minutes rather than sitting and so they feel much more engaged and alive physically at the end and they're standing up and they're clapping.
Interviewer: So Michael, we've gone through lots of awesomeness today and again I do want to show you, Fire Nation, that we're gonna have the show in those page chock-full of everything we talked about. Michael's book, Steal the Show, is going to be your go to source to deep dive into all this for sure and Michael, why don't you kind of break this down for us in kind of nice little summation, why don't you take a second, tie this in a nice little bow, what do you wanna talk to Fire Nation about here as kind of our final goodbye?
Michael Port: Lee Strasberg, who was one of the most famous acting teachers said that actors create reality and consistently express that reality and I think that's what all human beings do. The question is are you choosing to create that reality and in willing to express to reality? It takes a performer's mindset, I believe, to do that because the quality of our life is in large part determined by our ability to perform during life's high stakes situations and Steal the Show is all about mastering the game of performance so that you can Steal the Show during life's most important moments.
Interviewer: StealtheShow.com, is there another place you wanna send Fire Nation beyond that, Michael?
Michael Port: StealtheShow.com, tons of bonuses, you know when we launch books; we have to give away tons and tons of stuff. That's just the nature of it these days so you want free video courses. You wanna come to events in different parts of the country and see a master class in action, see me actually coaching people on stage. You wanna be coached on stage in front of others; so many different things were given away. We're even giving away as a bonus tickets to our wedding and an all-expenses paid trip to New York which is definitely, it's actually called a ridiculous bonus.
You'd be absolutely insane to buy this bonus but all the other bonuses are quite reasonable and we hope you can take advantage of it at StealtheShow.com.
Interviewer: I love it and Fire Nation, I love the you know, you're the average of the five people that you spend the most time with and you've been hanging out with Michael P. and JLD today so keep up the heat and head over to eofire.com, type Michael or Port in the search bar. His show us page will pop right up. You'll get to see this episode, his last episode, 756, right there for your listening pleasure and of course your direct call to action is StealtheShow.com, go get all those ridiculously great gifts and check out the ridiculous bonus because you never know. It might just be for you.
Michael Port: Yeah, you know, the ridiculous bonus is probably not a bad idea. There's some pretty influential people at that wedding, good networking opportunity.
Interviewer: Great and Michael, as always, man, just thank you for sharing your knowledge with Fire Nation and for that, we salute you, brother, and we will catch you on the flipside.
Michael Port: Thank you so much.
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