Command Performance

No great actor would ever take the stage without being well-directed and ready to deliver an award-winning performance, would they?  Of course not!  And we believe that no leader or employee should make a presentation or conduct a meeting without the benefit of the right preparation, practice and expert, independent “production.”

Do you know how to:

  • Speak with ease and confidence,
  • Deliver your message with intention and clarity,
  • Stand out from the competition,
  • Control the outcome of your messages?

This post is “Command Performance” and we’re going to explore just what it takes to command attention—whether speaking to a room full of people or simply helming a meeting of three.

Ivo Philbert

Ivo Philbert, President and CEO of Ivo Consulting recently spent some time with us on one of his trips to New York from Atlanta where he’s based.

Ivo has more to say in ten minutes than the average person does in an hour.  And all of his comments are packed with ideas and information that are priceless. 

When I asked Ivo how he prepares for a “Command Performance,” here’s what he revealed:

  • Know your stuff cold so that it comes out easily and fluently.
  • Understand that there is a purpose in your being there.
  • Be confident in your message—and show that with good posture.
  • Make people part of your dialogue with eye contact and a nod of your head.
  • Enunciate words—consciously slow it down.
  • Show good energy and be excited about what you’re talking about.
  • Let people see a part of you — who you really are.
  • Have a positive attitude.

All of what Ivo had to say follows suit with those of us at “Producing Your Career” who believe in the “Ten Commandments of a Great Presentation:”

1.  Have It, Don’t Show It

Don’t over-deliver, over-enunciate, or over-gesture. Have the composure, the knowledge of your material, the confident but relaxed voice, and the grace of movement.

2.  Focus on Your Best Friend in the Back Row

Pretend your best friend is sitting in the back row and your delivery will be warmer, your connection greater, and you won’t need to shout—thereby allowing you to connect to the entire audience.

3.  Project Your Power but Maintain Your Intimacy

Power comes from control, and the control creates the intimacy that your audience is seeking. Find “spotting points” so your eyes have distinct places to focus. Wandering eyes do not create intimacy.

4.  Lead with Your Eyes, Not with Your Chin

When we want to make a point—on stage, on camera, or in an interview—we often unconsciously push our chin (and mouth) forward as we deliver our message. Let your eyes lead and you appear more in control, command attention, and grab your listener.

5.  Take the Temperature of Your Audience

People shifting in their seats or crossing their legs deliver the same clues. Don’t ignore them. Maybe your voice is too low; maybe your words are garbled; maybe you’re rambling. Take the temperature of the audience by looking and listening.

6.  Don’t Bury the Lead

Sometimes people who are well-prepared forget to make their central message clear. Stories and anecdotes may warm the crowd, but if you don’t get your main thought center stage, you have buried the lead.

7.  Don’t Swallow Your Punch Line

After addressing an audience, presenters can lose their energy when they know they are near the end of the speech. Do not lose your last words. They often can be the most important message heard that will remain with your audience.

8.  Resist Your Use of Semaphore

Limit your use of exaggerated hand and arm gestures to get your point across. Practice more natural movement for your arms, hands, legs and head. The more comfortable and natural you are, the more so your audience will be.

9.  Follow the “18 Minute Rule”

After 18 minutes, you will lose the attention of 18% of your audience! So you have 17 minutes – maximum – to get your initial message across. After that, get creative—hand out a quiz, bring a display onto the stage, give out cookies.

10.  Be Your Audience’s Tour Guide

Don’t force your audience to connect the dots. They want your message to be very clear.  Provide a sequence of ideas that the audience can follow.  Lead your audience where they should go.

Katherine Leask

With over two decades of theatrical, television, and radio experience as an actor, Producing Your Career’s director and vocal coach Katherine Leask demonstrates for us how to put many of these key commandments to work.

Just click the button below to watch Katherine in action.

But don’t feel like you have to go it alone. If you need coaching on your own, Katherine can teach you how to put her commandments into practice via private sessions.  Or, if you’d like to significantly advance and enhance the development of talent in your company, the staff of “Producing Your Career” can develop a program specifically for your corporation’s needs.  Just e-mail Katherine at for further information.

Lynthia Romney

Lynthia Romney, President of RomneyCom, a full-service public relations and communications firm, works with leading corporations to help them develop and deliver their key messages to internal and external audiences.

She teaches her clients to articulate the positioning and key messages that will distinguish them before their audiences – whether clients and prospects, colleagues, subordinates, or influencers. Lynthia shared with us her three top imperatives for how to deliver those key messages:

1.      Have a 360 mindset—understand how those above you, your peers and your subordinates think about you.

2.      Create your personal branding and know your key messages—what you do, how you do it, and how you help your clients reach their goals or retain employees.

3.      Speak with clarity.  Know what the values and strengths are that distinguish you—and always have a “vivid” example of how you have delivered in the past.

Lynthia offered some intriguing stories. Click the button below to listen to what she has to say.

(Interview length: Approximately 15 minutes)

SPOTLIGHT: Evelyn Bailey-Semeniuk, VP, General Business for IBM Canada

Evelyn Bailey-Semeniuk

We asked Evelyn what the greatest influencers were in her life and were very touched by her answer—her parents and her daughter.  For Evelyn, her upbringing showcased a work ethic that she carries with her today.  And it has been important for her to show her daughter a mom who is all she could be—who has a desire to be successful.  To help instill that mindset in her daughter, Evelyn has even taken her to Uganda to sit in on the board meetings she attends there for a non-profit she’s active with.  Evelyn suggests looking around you to see who really inspires you, who could be a mentor to you and help guide you.  She talked about pitfalls and failures and how she believes that you need to know yourself well enough so that you can push yourself.  Coach your inner voice to believe in yourself.

Evelyn talked about how organizations are teams. It’s not an individual game but a team sport.  As she said, “You could have the greatest toolkit at your disposal, but if you don’t have synergies among the tools, it won’t work.”  We’re happy to share Evelyn‘s success strategies:

  • Embrace change
  • Drive innovative thought
  • Collaborate with your team
  • Encourage dialogue

Finally, our best wishes to all of you for happy holidays and a wonderful new year.  Here’s to a successful 2011!

Next post:  Leadership Presence…or how to make yourself known.

See you then,
The Team at “Producing Your Career”

Producing Your Career is a division of Bedlam Productions Inc. 2012

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Categories: Command Performance, Communication


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