I was recently in Los Angeles for Jeff Walker’s LaunchCon and I had the privilege of speaking with world-renowned performance coach and performing artist Victoria Labalme.

Victoria helps elite entrepreneurs, best-selling authors, top teams, and high-level executives communicate with confidence, authenticity, and impact.

She recently gave an amazing TED Talk that is getting a ton of attention, titled Risk Forward: the Rewards of Not Knowing. (Pssst, I highly recommend watching that TED Talk here).




One of Victoria’s key skills that makes her great is her ability to instantly connect with people. Being able to instantly connect means that people are more receptive and emotionally invested in your message.

It’s a skill that is incredibly useful for speeches, presentations, high-stakes meetings, video shoots, networking events, or any other situation where you are interacting with people and trying to get your message across.


So Victoria, you are great at connecting with people to build instant rapport on stage, for example, but how can we instantly connect in all contexts of communication?


Victoria: The first place I like to start is what I call “the through-line”.

The through-line is this line that runs through ALL that you are communicating.

The simplest way to think about it is like a verb. So, for example, if my through line is to show-off – I’m on video and I just want to show off

So, for example, if my through line is to show-off – I’m on video and I just want to show off or if I’m on stage and I want people to be impressed by me – it’s not going to be great.

So I always say the through-line should be in service of others. The first thing you want to think about is, “how can I help?” and when you do that, it changes everything.

“The first thing you want to think about is, “how can I help?” and when you do that, it changes everything.”


Stu: What would be another example of a good through-line?


Victoria: To share, to inspire, to engage.

I had a client who was working with a bunch of authors and he said, “I feel like I need to control them to get their stuff done,” and I said, “well, maybe there’s another way – to engage or collaborate.”

In sales sometimes people are like, “I need to kill it,” or, “I’ve got to conquer it,” instead of saying, “I want to help grow the audience.”

Whenever you’re nervous on camera or on stage or on a phone call or in front of your team, it’s because you’re thinking about yourself. “Am I enough? Am I saying ‘um’ too much?”

But the moment you focus on helping, all of the nervousness drops.




Stu: That was a huge mental breakthrough for me. So point number one is the through-line, what’s point number two?


Victoria: Another point that’s really helpful is what I call “K D FKnow, Do, Feel”.

What is it you want your audience to know? What’s the information?

What do you want them to do? What action do you want them to take?

And what do you want them to feel? Not just during that communication but afterward, too.


“Know, Do, Feel.”


Stu: Isn’t that an amazing framework? K D F. What else can people do to form a connection?


Victoria: Another point that’s awesome to remember is what I call “first and final”.

You never go to a movie, concert, etc. where it randomly starts and randomly ends. But a lot of people get on the phone and just start talking until they end up going, “well I guess I’m out of time. Thanks for having me.”

You want your first and your final to be really strong. It doesn’t have to be huge. You don’t have to come out singing and dancing.

Just think, what’s going to be the opening moment? Do I ask a question? Do I engage them?

And same with the ending. Just make sure that it’s crafted.


Stu: Sometimes a presentation can get hijacked with questions. What advice do you have there?


Victoria: People can hijack your Q & A. They want to pontificate, they want to make a point, they want to make you look stupid.

So I always say you want to have a final moment that goes after that. When it’s over say, “I’d like to leave you with a final thought,” or a final story, or a final image, or a final quote, so you control the ending.




Stu: If I’m giving a presentation and I have my teaching points and then I’ve got a story – and it’s a really funny story – where should I put that story in my presentation?


Victoria: You don’t want something like that too close to the front, because you haven’t earned the trust and the respect of the audience.

If you put it a little later, they’ll love you already, so you’ve proved your credibility, you’ve proved your knowledge, you’ve delivered value, they’re going to go with the joke, and then you can close with what you really want them to do.

So you’ve built rapport, and then you’ve got them laughing, and then you’ve got a slam-dunk because after a moment of humour, anything you say goes right to the heart.


Stu: Boom, there it is. The three ways to instantly connect with somebody.

  1. Your through-line.

  2. Know, do, feel.

  3. First and final.

Thank you for sharing your time and knowledge, Victoria!

Check out Victoria’s TED Talk at www.riskforward.com


Your turn: What techniques do you use to prepare for a presentation and instantly form a connection with your audience? Let me know in the comments below.





  • Larry Klein

    My materials or powerpoint or bio state, among other things, that I am a CPA. I tell a self-effacing story (could be used for other “respected professions”).

    I’ve had my setbacks just like everybody else. Let me tell you about it so we’ll clear the deck here. I first mentioned I used to be a CPA….came home from the office one day…..walked into the kitchen and see the sink stopped up with water…..I’m not very mechanical. I did the smart thing….I called a plumber. He came over promptly. This is 1979. He fixes the problem….as he was packing up his —— and getting ready to go, I said…how much do I owe you? This is 1979….he said….$100. I said….a $100. I said…you were only here 20 minutes. I’m a CPA. I don’t even charge $100 an hour. He said….neither did I when I was a CPA.

  • michele

    This is useful and inspirational. The big aha for me is that when you are nervous, you are thinking about yourself. Think about helping. I loved that!

  • Stephanie

    Fabulous interview! Great tips. Thanks!

  • James Stafford

    Thanks man! Love this..

  • Jevonnah Ellison

    Victoria’s TED Talk was excellent, and I’ve been able to share her points with many of my friends and colleagues. Thank you, Stu!

  • Great points. I love the idea of controlling the ending with a final thought – even after the questions. I’ve not been doing that well.

  • I make sure that my content is heart centered, and ask what their biggest frustration is. I help people address their biggest fears, their self-sabotaging beliefs. We clear them together. It’s powerful work. I keep my focus on their needs. Thank you for sharing this wonderful video, the Ted Talk will be part of my presentations now.

  • Victoria Buckmann

    I create rapport by finding something we all have in common, I can do this by knowing who my audience is. I am transparent and honest letting them know why I am there, what I want to share, and what I would love them to come away with. Then I share and get interaction or engagement from the audience. And end with a strong visual of what they can now do and what that will do for them, for their life, for their business, for their family or all of the above.

  • Derek Howie

    Love It Love It. GOOD LIFE GROUP. Bay Of Plenty New Zealand. Giving an Sharing In Troubled Times .A Gracious Heart Is The Greatest Communicator Bar none Yours In Service D.C.H. out.

  • Joel Collins

    Really good stuff. Thank you for sharing this!

  • Great point about focusing on helping others rather than focusing on one’s inadequacies.