From Edge International Communique, November 2016

by Gerry Riskin

It is with great sadness that I must report that on on October 19, 2016, our colleague John Stewart Plank passed away after a valiant fight against illness.

John was born in Edinburgh, Scotland, and during the 1970s and 1980s he worked as a director of Shakespearean theatre in Stratford and Peterborough, Ontario. In subsequent years, he deployed his theatre talents and background to assist executives and professionals from a wide range of fields to improve their speaking and presentation skills. It was in that capacity that he acted as a consultant to several principals of Edge International and to a number of our clients. As part of his association with our group, he also crafted a number of eloquent and perennially practical articles for Edge International Communiqué, such as “Charisma: The Quintessential Leadership Skill,” published in May, 2016.

I had the privilege of bringing John into law firms where he might work with a dozen lawyers over the course of a day. Despite the fact that at least a few of these individuals would often be gifted communicators already, by the end of the day they would typically be amazed at their own transformations. John had the capacity to use powerful questions and a very light touch to help individuals transform their presentation performances with a speed and magnitude that you had to witness to believe.

We will miss John profoundly. He lives on in what he taught us, and the mindset he instilled in us to strive for excellence in our communications. We extend our deepest sympathies to his wife Susan and the other members of their family.

For more information, please visit John’s website.

“I must tell you that your “Commanding Presence” workshop is far superior by leaps, bounds, and light years.”

David Krell, New York

“Your workshop at the Association of the Bar of the City of New York was extraordinary. The seminar was stimulating, instructive, and motivating. Without question the best CLE class I have ever experienced, and probably ever will.”

Jim Neville, New York

“Just want to say that I thoroughly enjoyed your workshop!  I found your program to be one of the most applicable CLE programs for lawyers. Thanks for an energizing day!”

Meryl Serotta, Esq.
Learning Enhancement for Students of Law, Inc.
New York

“Thanks, John.  I found your seminar to be the BEST CLE I’ve attended to date.  I’m not just saying that; so many don’t live up to the promises and I took away many good points from yours.”

Susan E. Satkowski
Lavin, O’Neil, Ricci, Cedrone & DiSipio

“Your Commanding Presence workshop in Chicago was very enlightening.  You challenged a group of attorneys to realistically look at the way we present ourselves to others, the way we project our professionalism, and then gave us many practical strategies to enhance our presence in the classroom, boardroom and courtroom.  The materials were useful and the group interaction was extremely helpful.  Many times we are unaware of the way we project our image to others.  I know these techniques will help me gain respect in the field and more importantly, current and prospective clients.”

Shayne Aldridge
Hodges, Loizzi, Eisenhammer, Rodick & Kohn

“Thanks again for being such a terrific instructor. My voice has largely returned to its former self and I attribute much of the improvement to your course. Concentrating on my breathing when under stress has made all the difference. This allows me to aspire to inspire rather than struggle to communicate.”

Judith MacKay

“I recommend this program for any advocate who cares about the quality of
his or her presentations in court.”

Roger Oatley
Fellow of the American College of Trial Lawyers