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Book Review: Steal the Show

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Below is my book review of Steal the Show. This post is a continuation of an experiment to share insights from books I’m reading. I’m reading 2-3 books a month. By writing down what I’m learning, it’s helping me ingrain concepts to implement in my life. Let me know how I’m doing by leaving a comment.


Steal the Show is about how to assume the right role and make a great performance in all aspects of life—especially in speeches, pitches, and interviews. What’s great about the advice is it applicable in all roles in life from spouse and kids to colleagues and employees to fans and followers.

The author, Michael Port, helps us “understand the there’s nothing inauthentic about emphasizing different aspects of our voice to fit the needs of the moment” (LeaderBox, Activation Guide). In other words, it’s ok to perform differently in front of different audiences and still be authentic to the core.

The book revolves around strategies and tactics to employ speech-as-performance. This helps leaders better connect with people across different audiences of all sizes, from 1 to 1000s.


Only buy Steal the Show if this post resonates with you first.

The book can be a tough read in parts. The author’s ego comes out a bit too much. There are some good thoughts and strategies but it could have been written in half as many words. Check out my blog post for the cliff notes and only buy the book if this post resonates with you.

Key Insights

  • Communication is about connecting with people authentically.
  • It can feel inauthentic to act differently depending on who the people are or what audience they form.
  • This can lead to feeling like an imposter and self-talk of the imposter syndrome, something that I do suffer from.
  • A mental model would be to think of each communication setting as a different role, much like an actor.
  • Each role can be different to emphasize the right points to connect with the people in the audience (whether 1 person or 1000).
  • Each of these different roles is authentic and collectively they make up one authentic person. They don’t all have to be the same to be authentic.
  • Our true voice is consistent across roles but can be emphasized differently depending on the role.
  • An audience can be a single person or 1000s of people. It could be my wife or kids, a keynote I’m giving, or a 1:1 with a startup CEO. The key is that during this time you’re trying to make a connection with the person (or people) on the other end.
  • Think of writing as a way to organize our thoughts to maximize impact.
  • Use contrast in communication to avoid falling flat.

Takeaways to Implement

  • Framing and organizing big ideas using different frameworks:
  • the problem / solution framework
  • the numerical framework
  • the chronological framework
  • the modular framework
  • the compare and contrast framework
  • the three-act structure: situation, conflict, resolution
  • Evaluate my message / idea with these questions (pages 91-92):
  • What matters most to you? What are you passionate about?
  • Could this change some aspect of the world for the better?
  • What makes this personal to you?
  • What’s your audience’s relationship to the issue?
  • What happens without the change?
  • How will listening to you benefit them?
  • Evaluate my bio
  • Revisit my bio for specific audiences
  • My website, talks I give, conferences, tailor bio to fit the audience
  • Practice, practice, practice. I have anxiety about perfectionism and getting it right. Waiting till the last moment because it isn’t right yet is putting the fear first. Instead, I should iterate, iterate, iterate on the material early on, when it’s not perfect.
  • Rehearse material — whether a keynote or a sales pitch to form the neural patterns aiding the subconscious in the delivery.
  • When pausing during speaking, it’s a time to listen to the audience and react appropriately. It also gives the audience time to process what you just said.
  • An effective bio is short and powerful.
  • When writing talks, reference on pages 213-223 “The Cheat Sheet: The 50 Public Speaking Tips You Can’t Afford to Ignore If You Want to Wow Your Audience and Win Praise and Plaudits Every Time”.
  • During audience Q&A, never say “that’s a great question” but reframe it “that’s the first time anyone has asked me that” or “that’s a different way to think about it” (pages 166-167).

Key Quotes

  • “Self-understanding allows you to express yourself with clear intent and purpose that resonates with people around you” (page xix).
  • “All the choices you make in your life signal to people, This is what I want you to know about me” (page xxvii).
  • “Authenticity really comes down to this question: do you have the courage to talk about who you really are, not just show you want others to think you are?” (page 5).
  • “Playing the right role is about identifying how you fit into a given scenario—and stealing the show when you do” (page 13).
  • “Silencing the negative voices in your head is directly tied to finding the different, but all authentic, characters you can play” (page 27).
  • “What are my goals are what is my motivation to accomplish those goals?” (page 43).
  • “Matthew Kimberley, often says that feeling overwhelmed is not necessarily a function of having too much to do but rather not knowing what to do next” (page 47).
  • “This transfer from left (logical) hemisphere to the right (creative imagination) hemisphere enhances visual imagery and actually creates new neural patterns in the brain. ‘When an athlete visualizes success, their body really is experiencing success,’ observes Dr. Bernie Siegel” (page 53).
  • “By raising the stakes, you adjust to being comfortable with discomfort” (page 59).
  • “Saying yes is about having the mindfulness to recognize and to respond positively to the content and feeling of another person’s thoughts in conversations in real time” (page 63).
  • “‘Even if it is a bit edgy, a bit out of your comfort zone, saying yes means that you will do something new, meet someone new, and make a difference in your life, and likely in others’ lives as well.’ - Eric Schmidt” (page 66).
  • “‘In effect, our brain is like Velcro for the bad but Teflon for the good.’ Rick Hanson” (page 68).
  • “I set goals for the year, for the quarter, for the month, and even for a particular week, and it is [my] job to make the choices that will produce the intended results” (page 80).
  • “When you organize the way you think and write for your audience, you organize the way they hear your idea and think about it” (page 92).
  • “How can I use slides and other media in a unique way that will stir my audience emotionally or cement a major point with a strong visual?” (page 139).

More Resources

I discovered this book through Michael Hyatt’s LeaderBox. It’s a fantastic program that delivers two curated books a month with reading plans. It’s been a terrific addition to helping propel me forward as a leader. The accompanying guide helps drive questions and takeaways from the books that helped shaped what I wrote above. It’s become my favorite monthly learning activity.

Note: Affiliate links used in this post. These links support the time dedicated to this blog. I only link to products I’ve actually used myself and would recommend. I maintain my integrity in being thoughtful in only sharing the best. Enjoy!

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