Hot Shot Speaking Skills with Patricia Fripp – Episode #14
Cordell speaks with executive speech coach Patricia Fripp about ways to take your speaking skills from ho-hum to hot. Patricia is an award-winning keynote speaker, trainer and executive coach. Find her on Twitter at @PFripp. – View Infographic
Cordell: My pleasure to be with you today. It’s also my pleasure to welcome Patricia Fripp. Patricia has described herself as the Executive Speech Coach. I say Patricia described herself, but I know that many others have described her that way as well. Patricia, welcome to the session.Patricia: My pleasure to be with you, Cordell.
Cordell: So, Patricia, you are the presentation skills expert. Tell our audience, how did you get that title? How did you get there?
Patricia: Well, when I first came to America knowing everyone in America was rich and the streets were paid with movie stars, I was a hairstylist. And I opened my own business and attended the Dale Carnegie course and realized the least expensive way to promote my business was to speak at all the service clubs that were…all my clients belonged to. And then people started saying, “What would you charge to say that to my group?” And little did I know that not only was this the best way to promote my business, this would end up by career. In 1977, I attended my first National Speakers Association Convention, saw the image of what was possible.
And so in 1984, when I became the first woman president of the National Speakers Association, I had developed my business. And in those days, Cordell, I was mostly a keynote speaker and I deliver as many as 120 keynotes a year. And as we all know, in training, if we listen to our clients, they will tell us how they want to pay for our services. And I started hearing National Sales Managers saying, “Could you teach our salespeople to speak that way because we’re losing business? And has nothing to do with our offering or price, it has to do with the presentation skills.” And then people would say, “Hey, while you’re here, can you help our executive? He’s not a good speaker.” So the business evolved to being more multi-faceted.
Cordell: For those of us that say that, “I’m not in the professional speaking business, it’s not what I do,” you have an interesting slant on that. Talk about that a little bit if you would.
Patricia: Well, yes, of course. Many of our attendees, when we recommend they speak up, they always say, “Oh, I’m not a public speaker.” And outside the privacy of our own homes, all speaking is public speaking. There is no such thing as private speaking. If you are in a corporate job and you talk to the Chief Financial Officer at the cafeteria line, what you say in those couple of sentences can have impact in your career. And who amongst us do not go to a company event or a networking event or an industry event or the Chamber of Commerce? And when we engage and talk to individuals, whether they are new friends or established friends, what we say is public speaking, and we can do it incredibly well and it can service well.
Cordell: Well, so we’re all public speaking at some point in time, at some point in time. Patricia, you mentioned something that I wanna dive a little deeper into. You talked about networking, and I know on this session that we have a lot of people, we get a lot of trainers, I go to a lot of conferences, conventions, and things of that nature, and I’m sure that many on this do as well. I know you talked about networking, you have an interesting perspective on that and how that relates to public speaking. Could I ask you to talk something about that, please?
Patricia: Certainly. And probably the best technique that has received so many rave reviews for all the years I’ve been sharing it is an example of what my friend, Susan RoAne, and I do. Susan RoAne is a best-selling author. She wrote “How To Work A Room,” which how many books sell consistently well for over 25 years. “How To Work a Room” was just re-released after 25 years. And Susan has a great personality, and so do I. And we’re very supportive of each other. And what we did naturally, we suddenly realized, “We need to teach people to do this.” It’s a technique we call, “Travel with your own PR agent.”
So, for example, if we, Susan and I, were at an event, would separate, would come together, would separate, would come together, and if Susan was talking to you and I walked up, she’d say, “Cordell, let me introduce you to one of my friends, Patricia Fripp. She truly is one of the best speakers, executive coaches, and sales presentation skills trainer in the country. In fact, ‘Kiplinger,’ a personal finance magazine, said, ‘The sixth best way you can invest in yourself is to take presentation skills training from Patricia.'” And then I would say, “Cordell, and I know Susan is far too modest to tell you she’s the best-selling author of six books. She’s been on the front cover of, ‘USA Today,’ ‘The Wall Street Journal.’ She’s even been in ‘Playboy.'” And Susan will say, “Yes, but not as a centerfold.”
Now, the secret is, Cordell, you obviously have to know what you’re gonna say before you go out with your friend. I’ve done the ASTD meetings and American Society of Association Execs without the speakers, and they said, “I’m never going to an event and not go with someone.” For this reason, we are trained. Even self-promoting individuals like me, we are trained. You can’t shake hands and say, “How do you do, Cordell?” “Meetings & Conventions” magazine said I’m one of the 10 most electrifying speakers in North America. You’re not gonna do it.
However, if somebody you’re with tells your credentials to the new friend they’ve met, then it’s a third-person endorsement, it’s much more conversational, and this is the secret. Especially when you use a funny line like Susan’s, “Not as the centerfold,” you become more of an object of interest to the people you meet. Then when they’re saying, “Oh, who did you meet last night at the opening general session?” “I met one of the best sales trainers in the country and a best-selling author.” And again, they repeat the conversations because all presentations, even if it’s to one-on-one, we want, in a perfect world, to be remembered and repeated.
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Cordell: If had you to give some tips to this audience on how to make their next conversation, their next speech better, what would you share to our group here, today?
Patricia: Well, well, we all have to understand, if you want to improve the quality of your presentation, one, be your own warm-up act, be prepared, be set up, everything set up in advance when people come in, shake hands at the door or stand at the front of the room and walk around and schmooze. In fact, at convention breakouts, what I am known to do is when there are more than a few people, I’ll grab the mic and I will engage the Audience. And this is what I call to be your own warm-up act. I’ll wet the mic so everyone can hear. And the fact that people are hearing, “Oh, it’s started,” even though it actually hasn’t, and it is amazing how, one, you are being a lot more approachable and friendly to the audience. Two, you’re warming up your body and your voice. And again, going back to the law of reciprocation, “If you extend yourself to an audience, they are more likely to pay attention at the beginning to you.”
So be you’re on a warm-up act. Then when it actually comes to the presentation itself, one, you need to start out well. Now, in many break-out sessions, we are not introduced, keynotes we’re always going to. So I might either say, “I’m usually introduced.” So what we’ll do, I’m gonna pretend I’m somebody else, introduce myself, you will applause profusely, then I’ll start. And I also have introductions from different friends of my brother’s on video. So sometimes I show that. So, one, but you want to get off to a good start. So, if I’m introducing myself, I will accept the applause move to a different part on stage and then I begin as if somebody else did introduce me. Now, let’s assume you’ve got an introduction, the first 30 seconds and the last 30 seconds have the most impact. Come out punching, grab the audience’s attention. Then we need to emotionally connect to our audience. If you understand, most audience members are thinking, “So what, who cares, what’s in it for me?”
At least, there’s a segment there. You need to grab their attention and show this is about them and use “you focus” language. So never say, “I’m gonna talk about what I would like to do, what I’m gonna do first.” No, it’s just grand. After your introduction, whatever it is, whether it’s a statement or a rhetorical question or a story, once you transition into the body of your training of your speech, it’s more, “You will hear, you will learn, you will experience.” And what I encourage seasoned professional to do is take a live performance, not one edited for a demo, have it transcribed and read what actually came out to your mouth, and highlight all the redundancies, all the sentences that start with I, and see if you can change it.
So, one, come out punching. Two, emotionally connect to the audience with “you focus” language, good eye contact, and of course, stories and examples. We all know the best way to explain the complex is with an example. And with your stories, you need characters and dialogue, and of course, the point of the story. And one way all trainers or all professionals or leaders or managers or even brilliant conversationalist can improve the quality of the storytelling is to not report on the dialogue but to deliver the dialogue. So for example, rather than saying, “I was working with an executive and what I normally do is see if we can get the central theme of the presentation, so I asked him if he could give me the theme of his presentation in one sentence.” Now, this is the way I would actually do it. “As Bernard walked into the room, I said, ‘How do you do? If you had one sentence rather than 45 minutes, what would you say?’ He said, ‘This is a brand new company.’ I said, ‘Great, write that down. That’s your opening line, ‘Welcome to a brand new company.'”
And so, if you can really deliver the dialogue, it drives your speech forward, it helps you move through examples and stories, and you can give a lot of the background of the story in dialogue. So for example, how I got to Bernard, a woman called and said, “Patricia, as you know, we are a $2-billion software company, and we are having a very important meeting with 1,500 salespeople. So rather than set up the story you’re about to hear, I deliver in dialogue and can do it a lot faster. So, we have start, we have a good opening, come out punching, emotional connection, good story as an example so the audience can see what they’re hearing. We use words people remember in visuals.
Then we need to have a logical structure built around your central theme. So for example, if you and I were having a conversation, you say, “Oh, Patricia, you know, what are you gonna talk about?” And I say, “Well, how to prepare and present powerful programs.” “Oh, that sounds good, how do you do that?” And I say, “Well, first of all, you’ve got to come up with the most difficult one sentence which is your central theme.” “All right, good. Then what do you do?” So you see, what I could answer to you in a conversation, you can structure with your presentation.
And whereas in conversation you would ask me the question, with an audience, they would think the next question. They would think, “Okay. That makes sense. What comes next?” They would think, “Hmm, can you give me a specific example?” And so you have to know what the audience is thinking. That’s what I mean conversation and logical, a good structure, and then we have to have razor-sharp specificity. The world, Cordell, is full of sloppy speakers, even some of our trainer-friends. I’m on a mission of wiping out and I’m failing miserably. Specificity builds credibility. Now, listen to this, Cordell. Would you rather hear a session on three things that will make you successful, or would you rather hear three strategies that guarantee career success?
Cordell: Wow, sign me up for the latter.
Patricia: The thing is a wishy-washy nothing. And another one, stuff, “Uh, uh, uh, uh,” people talk about their expertise. “What do you do for IBM?” “Delivering my best stuff.” People like IBM don’t pay big bucks for debris and rubbish, which is what stuff is. So, I am on a mission, specificity builds credibility.
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Cordell: I wanna go back to several words that you put in that, Patricia. You talked about audience, you talked about stage. Now, again, audience and stage, we got a lot of people on this that are true professionals and do a lot of speaking, but you hear those words, and a lot of times, that will still bring out nerves in the best of people before they get ready to get on that, you know, get in front of the audience, get on that stage. How do you get over the nerves, Patricia? How do you get over that?
Patricia: And, certainly, when we say stage, Cordell, is you and I might get on the stage, and our training professional friends. The stage could be in the boardroom, the stage could be in the in front of your leadership team. It could be a staff meeting. Well, one, that’s why having the schmooze factor, being your own warm-up act helps alleviate some of the nerves. And it’s not a matter of totally removing them. And I wouldn’t say nerve, It’s anticipation. We always focus…you see, when you’re nervous or you’re telling yourself you are nervous, so many people say, “Oh, I’m so nervous.” I say, “Look, stop programming in your body what you don’t want, program what you do want. I’m not a nervous speaker, I’m an inexperienced presenter learning to be great.”
But what we’re doing is focusing on us. We need to focus on the audience and serving them. And the best suggestion comes from showbiz, “Security is knowing your lines.” And you don’t have to script everything you’re going to say, but you do have to script your opening remarks. You need to hold an overview in your mind of where you’re going, and you need to know exactly how you’re gonna conclude on a high. And then one other technique is, as Michael Cane said, “Rehearsal is the work, performance is the relaxation.” And if you are apprehensive, get some of your friends into your office in the boardroom and say, “May I rehearse? Give me feedback.” You wanna build your confidence because you might know your presentation called in your office.
Walking out in front of 20 senior leaders, it’s a whole different level. Or you’re used to working 30-person audiences and you’ve done so well they said, “Hey, can you come deliver that to 300?” In many ways, it’s easier with 300. They’re a complex…there can be complexity with small groups, complexity with large groups, but speaking is speaking. Know your subject, serve your audience, and rehearse. And it’s amazing how some of that apprehension after you get off to a great opening, which is why you focus on your opening remarks. Then they’ll respond, they’ll laugh, they’ll sit forward, and that will boost your confidence.
Cordell: I love it. Thank you, Patricia, great stuff. So, Patricia, something else…
Patricia: Great. What, Cordell? Slap your hand. Great information, great information, it’s not fake debris.
Cordell: Thank you, Patricia, I love it, I love it, I love it. So, Patricia, you’re very persuasive, very persuasive. I love your energy, I love your inflection, I love the way you’re using your hand, you’re very persuasive.If you had to give some tips to the people on this session today about how…in addition to what they have observed about how they can become more persuasive, what would you share with our audience, today, as it relates to that?
Patricia: Yeah. We want to be more persuasive, Cordell. It goes back to the focus on the audience. So for example, I work a lot with sales teams. And before I work with them…and a lot of people, their standard presentations is, “Hello, I’m John Smith. I work with the ABC company, and we’ve been in business for 16 years. And we have this unique methodology, and these are the clients we serve and we’d love to help you.” Nobody gives a damn. So what you need to do is, one, focus on the other person. I encourage all my sales teams to find one area or several areas that their prospect is proud of.
So your opening line of your sales presentation might be congratulations. “Your last advertising campaign is superb” or, “Congratulations.” Everybody I engaged or met as I was walking to your office smiled, said, “Hello,” asked me if I needed help. Obviously, your core values are in place. It can be any comment that is genuine and real and sincere. And then, you never spank people for their time. “Thank you for the opportunity to discuss how the Fripp presentation skills training could be what you’re looking for.” Now, if this is a presentation that after you’ve had some initial conversations, you’re gonna make a hero of the person who prepared you for this important meeting. You don’t talk to senior-level groups after a cold call, someone has helped you understand what their needs are and then you say, “Cordell has been very generous with his information and he told me that your opportunities lie in or your interest are or your challenges are,” and then you construct your presentation around their needs, interests or challenges. You’ll still get all the information in.
As I say to sales team, does it really matter if they want a demo if they don’t know how you how long you’ve been in business? And frankly, if any of us are in a conversation or a meeting with a fairly high-level group, with the internet, they’ve already done their research on us. Now, this is the secret for any professional or any training professional. We all have great websites, we all have satisfied clients, we all work with procedures companies, then when everything else is equal, the presentation makes difference. And if your presentation is obvious, you know who you’re talking to, you know what they’re proud of, you know what their challenges are, they will sit back and think, “Wow, at last, somebody who’s more interested in talking about me than themselves.”
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Cordell: So, Patricia, let’s talk a little bit about Fripp VT because I think, obviously, as we’re going through this, our audience probably gets a feel for how things could go, but one of the things that I saw on your site, which was a great site by the way, and you talked about it, says, “Fripp VT engages you and have you to interact. This is one of the best ways to learn.” What do you mean by that?
Patricia: Well, as you know, many of our clients, one, they need help and people are busy, they’re all over the country or the world. So Fripp VT is highly interactive, learn-at-your-own-pace, web-based, virtual training in all areas of presentation, whether it’s sales presentation, structuring a presentation, delivering webinars, reporting to senior management, all aspects of presentations. And it is a very cost-effective way at training teams of individuals or for individual speakers, presenters, and trainers. Because, obviously, I have a lot of fans in the speaking and training world who would like to work with me.
So even many of my executive clients, they will go through virtual training to learn on structuring, and opening, and emotional connection, and stories before we work together so its shrinks our more expensive time. But Fripp VT interactive, powerful, persuasive presentations is the best way, either to prepare for training instead of training, if you’re not actually in a position to go in-person training, or for follow up. Because, Cordell, as we all know in the training world, brain research tells us that we are lucky if an audience will remember 10% of what they learned after 7 or 10 days. So what we have to do is, one, work at how we more carefully deliver our message so people will remember. Repeat, they will see it. It’s specific so they understand the value. And with the virtual aspect for repetition and reinforcement, it guarantees that the investment and training really pays off.
Cordell: So I’ve had a lot of fun, and I hope that our audience has, too. You’ve certainly shared some great knowledge points that people, I’m sure, are gonna benefit from. But certainly, I appreciate everybody joining this session. I’m gonna wrap up, but I’m gonna turn this over to Patricia to close us up because your statement says your last words linger. So, on that note, Patricia, close us out today.
Patricia: Remember all neuroling needs repetition and reinforcement. And I hope you will remember me, Fripp. However, much more important than remembering me, remember what Fripp stands for: frequently reinforce ideas that are productive and profitable.
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