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Heroic Public Speaking

Lesson 2 of 23

The Principles of Performance

Michael Port, Amy Port

Heroic Public Speaking

Michael Port, Amy Port

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Lesson Info

2. The Principles of Performance
Michael and Amy teach what actors know about performing to help you create rich experiences for your listeners.

Lesson Info

The Principles of Performance

So the reason that we believe we can help you see the world this way and experience the world this way is because of our training as actors. So most of you know of my exploits in the world of business. But as chris said, at the beginning, I was an actor, as was amy. We were actually both in graduate school at the same time at different schools. Amy was at the yale school of drama, getting her masters while I was at the venue graduate acting program, getting my masters now, I applied to both yale end and why you didn't get into yale. Amy applied to both yale and why you and got into both, so this is still a little point of contention here, but you're bad, I am bad if we can move away from the idea of speaking and towards performance and use what the actor knows about performing, then maybe we can create experiences for people that are much bigger, more dynamic, then just a speech. So here's, the thing that happens that we want to share a little bit with you about what happens in in an m...

f a acting program, the two of us spent three years, six days a week from eight in the morning till eleven o'clock at night, doing the kinds of things that are not the big, glamorous performances doing voice training everyday speech training every day movement training everyday clowning stage fighting scene study dramaturgy shakespeare checkoff mamet you know just day in day out in the classroom in the student rehearsal studio and then yes in performance and that we would love to be able to give you in eight segments you know and truthfully the voice work every day for three years makes a huge difference there's no doubt about it when michael and I first met can I tell this story when michael and I first met I don't know he hey overheard me talking to somebody and came over and said you're an actor and I had a moment here's the thing we were not in new york we were not actors aime son and my son went to the same school at the time and I was just passing by and this is out in bucks county, pennsylvania there's not a big you know acting scene out there so there's no reason that she would be an actor but I heard her voice I said are you an actor? She goes yes I said where'd you train she said yeah I said I want to know what you would you go and we were into the same time who was your agent? I have the same age in new york, you know and we don't remember seeing each other but it's likely we were probably on auditions together because we'd be playing the kinds of roles that would play opposite each other so it's all that study it's all that study that gives you the background and what we want to give you is the tools that make a difference quickly but then also so that you have some tools that you can go away with and keep working with, you know, because it does evolve over time will be looking for some nice fun ah ha moments but also know that it's what happens over time we have done enough voice work over hours and hours and hours that we we hopefully know what we can give you that will help you point you in the right direction and it'll never be perfect yes will never be perfect we're way not perfect. Well, you're pretty not you. I fell off a stage into the orchestra pit once and you know how you know how kids when they fall down and they you know, all of sudden you hear like, okay, great, you do that and it's very funny that's exactly idea that went ok and the whole place laughed and it was great. So sometimes you know, the moments that you think you totally it destroyed the whole performance of the best moments in the shop, so we'll never be perfect and no matter how much speech training you've done, you'll you know you'll fall over your words you'll say crap craft debating speeches instead of craft captivating speeches and not that amy did that today for anything but that will happen that will happen but that's the fun of it so the principles of performance that the actor knows that the professional speaker or the amateur speaker or anybody trying to create any kind of performance anywhere knows are the following seven how many now that terrible? How many the first to say yes write it down or not you're going to know this you don't need to write this stuff down trust me you're gonna know this because we connect because you go I get it I've been saying yes for you know eight segments for eight hours have been saying yes, I think I get the principal by the end so yes and if we're doing an improv so an improv often the performers don't the performers don't know what the other performers going give them they might have a structure but they don't know what's coming so let's say I amy's onstage and I come in and there's an audience here and I could be like this I think I broke my leg it's over she said no okay it's over but if I come in I go, I think I broke my leg you did your hair looks great thank you actual just gotta cut did you? Is that what you like? And now we can go on you know something can happen because she said yes doesn't mean that the moment is going to be perfect and it's going to land no, but you can keep going until you find what works because you say yes and plus it also again makes it safe. It's we're right back to our ground rules in here it has to be a safe space once we know that we're safe and the people around us are going to work with us rather than against us that's where we can do our best work, then here's how it applies when you're giving a speech and if you have an audience I saw a speaker very well known speaker bigshot speaker I get asked a question in a room that probably had a thousand people in it and someone asked a question and the speaker laid into this person because he didn't like the way the question was phrased, but it was a question that I think many people in that room had so instead of saying yes, I really hear what you're saying we might also think about it like this he said no that's a stupid question now of course you're never going to do that but it's a great example of what no does so we say yes yes, and we could also try this. Yes. And we could try this when we're rehearsing. When we're writing our speeches, we don't no, no, no, that won't work. No, that won't work. No, that won't work. Yes. How about we try this one of my key? No, just called the think big revolution. And amy directed me in it. And I had this idea for demonstrating the whole concept of being comfortable with discomfort. So I thought, why don't I wear a pair of six inch heels red red like we're talking like six inch heels like that? I thought that would be really great and he's like, okay, you could yeah, great try it. It didn't actually work, but he brought us to a place that worked because I was willing to say, I'll walk around and heels so that's saying yes, the second principle and in principle is listen what? Listen, listening because if you don't hear what's being said to you that you can't respond in the moment, which is the third principle. So when you're on stage by yourself, giving a speech is different than if you have other performers with you on stage. But you are listening in every single moment tow what's going on in the eyes, yes, in the body language that's the thing the audience becomes the actor that you're working with and it's one of these great, directly applicable ways were used to working with each other. We're used to working with other bodies, other people, but so are you, you know, that's what you do, and so when you're performing connect with the people, look for the eyes you're creating a physical connection with each person in the room in the moment. So number one, you say yes and number two, you listen number three, you stay in the moment. Number four, work with actors who have your back worked with performers that have your back it's, one of the bottom line rules of being an actress and actor doesn't have another actor's back. It's not gonna work. So what does that mean for you? You've got to set up a dynamic where you have their back and they have your back. You see how this applies to speaking? Say yes if you see so number one what is it? Yes, on number two. Number three. Number three. Number four playing with performers that have your back. So there's another way that this connects in this circumstance, how are you going to get the people in the audience on your side, you know, if they want to sit down and poke holes in what you're saying, how do you get them on your side? And we're going to get to this in much more detail in a later segment, but if you can demonstrate to them that you know what the world is like for them, you're already making a connection already saying I know what it's like for you and that's a good way to get them on your back since you're on there's good, so what's one number two number three number four players performers that have your back it's hard to say in unison number five take big risks watching a performer that doesn't take risks is boring safety on stage is boring I'm not talking about you know if you're flying with rigging or you're having a sword fight at that kind of safety that's necessary to be safe there, but if the performers playing everything safe, they're pushed to the edge they don't go all the way it's boring so for example, are you familiar with the born identity bourne identity? I love that film! The film opens with a guy in the water unconscious, he gets rescued by some fishermen. I don't remember what language they spoke, but it wasn't the language that he spoke they take a bullet out of his back and when they take the bullet they also find a little capsule so when he wakes up he finds it he can speak their language but he thinks he's american he's very confused because he doesn't remember anything else but they given this capsule it turns out it's to a bank account he goes to the bank in his treatment possible she finds all this money and all these passports, different countries and a gun he takes the passports in the money, leaves the gun then he goes the american embassy, he gets there standing in line, he gets jumped by a bunch of big guys, he takes them all out in a matter of seconds. How'd I do that? He wonders. So now he's running away from them be scaling down the side of a building and on it goes well, the stakes are really high. They're taking big risks. Now imagine a movie where it opens on a guy sitting at a computer typing then he stops and goes, where was I? Oh, yeah and then he goes back in for two more hours. You just watch this that's boring, isn't it? So the stakes were too low to make it interesting so conflict is a big part of what makes something exciting so there needs to be conflict in every single presentation so what's number one, number two, number three, number four, number five, number six, no shoes early and off excuse me, I had a big maria so you have to use everything that exists there's a noise back there there's a drill I don't know if they can hear it unknown but we heard it here and if you don't acknowledge it it's a little weird it's uncomfortable and so he's making a choice she's making a choice that he's not like this is the perfect choice, but it may be but it's a choice rather than just keeping things very bland or safe or sometimes we think we have to be professional in a certain way. And as you watch, you know michael's up here and he's talking to you and he's using his body and he's using his boys and he's very engaged it's an art so it's not saying that has to be your style. Get up there and get home there's a call on all of that right but make it it's like a heretical that's right? Make a choice, do something and if you could do that in the rehearsal and make the choices early, then you can see what's working and what isn't because there will always be things that don't work so when when an actor is chosen remember these are the principles of performance when an actor has chosen their large part chosen because they make choices, so if an actor goes in for an audition their job is to make choices based on the scene that they're asked to perform and the director than evaluates the choices they make, among other things and if the performer makes a lot of choices, the director may say those aren't necessarily the choices that I think this actor should make in this performance but this actor makes choices so I can work with them I could direct them but the actor that comes in that won't make a lot of choices that plays it safe the director but I don't know if I can do anything with them, so if you are goingto be chosen by meeting planners, decision makers they want to see that you're making choices they want to see that you're willing to raise the stakes so what's one number two number three number four number five number six on number seven, which is probably the most important come into your life who's wing when you get scared, you look each other in the eye so when you're an actor and you're onstage and you're scared, you look into your partner's eye and he'll settle down and you'll find what you need to find there and that's what will happen when you're up here if you have those moments, shannon, I think you said you're nervous about being up here and losing where you are our tendency when we lose where we are is to go I'm gonna pack I'm gonna be like a deer in the headlights and to close off but what the performer knows is you stay with the people you're engaged with stay with the eyes of your partner as they are here in the audience and it will come to you whatever is next for you to say will come we stay here and of course you can turn it into a brilliant moment he does this so so here's what you're doing your speech you all around but you talk about this section and then you finish oh no I forgot where I was going to go so you finish now it comes back to you keep going but you'd make it a moment you just keep this moment for connected meanwhile, what I'm doing is thinking but you stay connected and you will find it because when you're in this conversation with an audience their eyes will tell you where you just were I see so that's why when you get scared you stay with them you don't disconnect from that you stay with so now we know the seven principles of performance what are they number one number two number three day and moment number four number five number six number seven god, I don't even know what number seven was from that one number seven when you get scared looking for when you get scared look in someone's eye did you need to write any of that down to remember it maybe if you did but now let's learn more about them shall we great yeah the other thing we could do maybe first is a little yes oh oh oh yes so let's play the yes game why don't you take it away let's have the people who are miked up come on up here so come on up if you would and stand in a like a half circle will do a half circle shape here facing our two please waken take more and more bodies up here can we get another four or five people jump on this for five people give me four five people let's go good good excellent okay so here's how this game goes you know what marriage marie jeanne will you come over here thank you so much here's how this game goes it has three steps whoever starts I'm going to step into the circle here for a moment whoever starts we'll point at someone and she will say yes yes and that gives me my cue to walk at which point michael's points I will point in somebody she can't she's going to try to get my spot but she can have my spot until I move so I will then pointed somebody else and he will say yes which gives me permission to go to his spot yes yes e yes okay so let's stop for a second come on you said the circle you guys are doing a great job so so first thing is you all got come on into the circle yeah you guys got that there are three parts yeah there's a point yes the other the other person says which gives you permission to move now what are you learning what works well and what doesn't when you start moving at them before they give it permission they're not totally yes so you have to wait for the conversation and not anticipate okay so just for this one if you don't have a mic pack don't don't talk no even in this when we won't be able to hear you if you don't have a mic back so just the people have mike packs for this part would be the answer would be great great okay thank you michel what else did you learn it's really hard to be present when you're on the spot right it's interesting right when we start to feel nervous we might find that we're not breathing or that we're breathing like this as we're standing going oh my gosh I'm going to be called on and is the camera on me and then do I know exactly what I'm supposed to do and I'm guessing you don't mean what do I do now right so that's to be in the moment that we were just talking about you can't anticipate other than to be watching eyes and following what's happening where so that when someone points at you you say yes and they walk like that so we'll go ahead and we'll do it again yeah are you ready? Yeah okay shannon would you start please yes good yes yes yes hee hee hee so what are what are some of the things that cause confusion? It was a miscommunication there is like no wavelengths going off there's a miscommunication and in this particular game what's creating that miscommunication what are some of the things that produce miscommunication not making eye contact. Okay, so one you're not looking them in the eye number two what else? Timing timing so the timing is off so specifically what's happening the timing's off because you're moving before you get permission to move give me a pen. Give me a pen. Okay, so when you're presenting, you need to make sure that they catch whatever you've thrown them before you move on. So if I throw this to amy I need to make sure she's caught it and then I need to make sure she can throw it back to me before I move I now if the ball is dropped there at least it's dropped near me and I can pick it up when we can move on but if I throw it to her and she throws it back but it doesn't really get to me and I've already started moving it's hard to catch it so when you are presenting you throw so that they can catch make sure they've caught it then you move on and what's happening here sometimes we're going yes you know and he's like uh you know but if I say then I move he knows that he needs to very quickly go to the next one now of course what happens if I go like this and he says yes it doesn't give him any time you see so I'm not allowing for him to do what he needs to do so if you if you say something that you believe they're going to want to take down on a piece of paper but you keep going quickly after you said that they're trying to catch up you can't get there all right now let's play the game again but this time with very clear intentions as if you are already a master at this game and you don't laugh at yourself when you mess it up you don't comment on it god yes yeah yeah yes yes yes yes yes yes yes yes now start to speed it up yes yes yes with intention yes yes yes yes yes yes yes yes okay crypt pause now keep that intention keep it moving faster go twice as fast as you think you can go and there are no mistakes cannot make a mistake all right go for michael yeah yeah yes yes yes yes yes yes yes yes yes yes yes now interestingly enough did that in fact work better than it did before when you go slower yes why? I think I'm thinking we weren't thinking as much you were actually in the moment what else you're paying attention you're paying attention you had to pay better attention because the stakes were higher. What else? I think we're becoming a team more you're starting to work together playing with people that have your back what else? It may maybe realized I thought there was a rule before that I was supposed to get over there before I was supposed to point again and then you said no rules so that gave me more freedom so when I say you can't make a mistake I don't know if I actually said no rules I can make a mistake because sometimes what happens is when we're playing a game or when we're giving a presentation and we think we've made a mistake we comment on yes but if we go and so it got a little off and just keep going it's everything's fine it turns out to work out, doesn't it? What else did you discover doing it a little more quickly? You have to be present well being in the sun good she had to listen and be present you had to say yes you're to look each other in the eye it was more fine yes so actually taking more risks is more fun it was more engaging more engaging good now I would suggest you try it instead of pointing try offering your pot okay before you start yes yes yes yes yes yes okay keep going but this time imagine you're having fun best time you could possibly have ever okay go for it whose first go yes yes yeah yes yeah you yes way over there for a second so why don't you take over there so two things changed here one was that instead of pointing you opened your hand and two you decided to have more fun how did those two things change the dynamic yeah you were looser more energy gave us permission to be selling permission what else? Anything it was it was more fun more collaborative higher level of energy highland and when you have that harlow level of energy you you can often make a lot more mistakes because the energy is what people are connecting with the mistakes that matter yes feel like exactly the reason I like this rather than this it's because this is often accusatory and in some cultures it looks like a gun you know, it feels like a gun in some cultures so when you're on stage instead of pointing at people how about offer your hand? Ah, yes, you have the floor. Go ahead. Yes, what about you? How do you feel? What about all of you is very different than how do you feel weird about you? What about you, and that can provoke anxiety in a game where you're already feeling a little anxious about what do I do? And then, if all of a sudden it's all this, did any of you feel that when your point it's, like, well, it's, my turn, rather than an invitation to participate in the were like you're putting him on the spot, and you're demanding something? When you put your hand out like this, I felt like you were offering something on. It was more of an exchange.

Class Description

Short on time? This class is available HERE as a Fast Class, exclusively for Creator Pass subscribers.

A memorable speaking engagement can transform a career – learn how to tell stories that stir up emotion and move listeners to the edge of their seats. Join Michael Port and Amy Port for the most engaging public speaking course you’ll ever encounter, Heroic Public Speaking.

Public speaking is notoriously difficult, but working professionals can rarely avoid it. Whether it's selling your work to a potential client, presenting a deck to collaborators, or giving a talk in front of a large audience, it is almost guaranteed that you’ll have to speak in front of others – learn how to do it well. In this Heroic Public Speaking course, Michael and Amy will teach you a system for engaging, persuading, and inspiring your audience, no matter the size.

In this class, Michael and Amy will help you craft a presentation that feels like a performance instead of speech. You’ll learn techniques for structuring a compelling presentation with tips on incorporating cliff-hangers, using humor to engage listeners, and constructing stories that tell a coherent story. You’ll also learn how the pros handle pre-show nerves and respond to the audience in real-time.

If you want to impress and inspire your audience, no matter the size, join Michael and Amy for their complete guide to turning your public speaking gig into a performance.



What a great class! An incredible amount of content shared in a fun, engaging way. Michael Port is a gift. I attended his Book Yourself Solid Immersion via telecourse and was impressed. However, seeing him on video adds layers of instruction that will benefit me not only in public speaking, but in other aspects of my business and life as well. Amy Mead really lazers in on specific improvements that get big results. Thanks to all for an outstanding class.


Wow.. When I first stumbled across Michaels videos I thought “this guy is almost TOO good.” The free information was so helpful that I rationalized with myself that I didn't have to sign up for the course, at least not right away. Eventually after my procrastination period I bought the class and was pleasantly reassured of my purchase. The content inside was just as valuable and fun! Not only that, watching the transformations of the students as they practiced their speeches was simply amazing. Michael and Amy work great with each other and have put together a top notch experience with Heroic Public Speaking.


Awesome course. I follow Michael Port and his BYS system and I was pleased to see he is sharing also his professional acting experience/tips to help us creating and delivering public speeches. This course is different from what you find on the market: both Amy and Michael are professional trained actors and they share lots of insiders tips (contrast, blocking, the importance of storytelling, rehearsing, etc). A true gem and great course. I hope they will do more with creative live in the future. this course (like the BYS) is highly recommended.