I help high-tech companies with product launches and customer user conferences to highlight the value of their technology. It is a privilege to assist brilliant technical presenters in better understanding how to talk like real people speaking to real people. Their presentations need to simplify the complexity of technology without ever using the words basic or simple because if it were, why would they charge the price they do? Many love their busy, complex slides. My job is to help them understand that their visual aids may cause cognitive overload.

What is Cognitive Overload?

Cognitive overwhelm occurs when our brains are bombarded with too much information at once, making it difficult to process and retain anything. In public speaking, this often happens when a speaker overloads the audience with data, complex visuals, or rapid speech.

How It Affects Your Audience

Cognitive Overload

When your audience is cognitively overwhelmed, they struggle to:

  • Follow your key points.
  • Retain important information.
  • Engage with your message.

This can lead to disengagement and a lack of connection with your audience, which is the last thing you want in a presentation.

Common Causes of Cognitive Overload in Public Speaking

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My brother Robert Fripp played guitar on David Bowie’s Heroes.

When my brother and I delivered our presentation, How to Be a Hero for More than One Day, I asked him, “How can we become heroes?”

He replies, “By performing acts of quality.”

The next logical question is, “Why is an act of quality important?”

Brother’s wisdom continues, “Because it’s how we change our suffering world one small act at a time. The first principle of quality is this: ‘An act of quality is ungovernable by number.’ This is the world of qualities; this is not the world of quantities.

Quality is ungovernable by number.

“In St. Mark’s gospel, we have the story of the widow’s mite, where the widow cast two mites into the treasury. The translation from the King James Bible says that two mites make a farthing. (a cent) This was her act of quality.  “The Church of England is responsible for 16,000 buildings, including 42 mainland cathedrals. This year, the Church of England is estimated to spend 110 million pounds repairing and maintaining the fabric. It is a law of the universe that any church needs a new roof sooner or later. In the world of quantities, the widow’s two mites will not put a roof on a church.

Her act, however, kept the church standing. This is an act of quality. “This is the second principle of quality: So, although we may never see the repercussions from an act of quality, and we will never see the consequences of our own act of quality, we may be confident that right action generates just consequences.”

I challenge you to perform acts of quality by adding wisdom and interesting details to your presentations.

To listen and learn more of Robert Fripp’s wit and wisdom check out Robert FrippVT

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Robert Fripp speaking
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When crafting unforgettable presentations, the best stories often come from your life experiences—the stories you tell your friends.

What captivates your friends will also captivate your audience.

Robert Fripp Speaks

Think about the last time you shared a story with a friend. Perhaps it was a funny memory from your childhood, a lesson learned from a challenging project, or an inspiring moment that changed your perspective. These stories resonate because they are genuine, personal, and relatable. Your audience, like your friends, connects with authenticity and emotional honesty.

Why Personal Stories Work

  1. Relatability: Personal stories are relatable. When you share a story from your life, your audience can see themselves in your experiences. They find common ground, which builds a connection.
  2. Authenticity: Audiences crave authenticity. Sharing a story from your own life comes across as genuine and sincere, which helps build trust and rapport with your listeners.
  3. Emotional Impact: Personal stories often carry a strong emotional punch. Whether it’s humor, sadness, triumph, or failure, emotions are powerful tools for engaging an audience and making your message memorable.
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It never ceases to amaze me that intelligent, well-educated, and ambitious professionals frequently overlook developing the number-one skill guaranteed to position them ahead of the crowd: the ability to stand up and speak eloquently in public, or at least stagger to their feet and say anything at all.

What terrifies so many about public speaking? Most likely, it is because we do not want to look, feel, or sound foolish in front of others. This fear can be paralyzing, but it is also conquerable.

I frequently hear, “I am a terrible public speaker.” To which I reply, “No. You are an untrained speaker.” My second comment is always, “Stop telling yourself what you do not want. This is reinforcing what you are going to change.” You improve what you focus on. I tell my coaching clients, “You have invested your entire career training to be a competent CPA, engineer, nurse, dentist, financial advisor, or content expert. Now it’s time to invest in becoming a competent speaker.”

The Importance of Public Speaking Skills

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Do you aspire to be an outstanding public speaker? Here’s a secret: great public speakers are made, not born.

My Journey to Becoming a Speech Expert

Patricia can help you become a great speaker

My clients will tell you I have a unique superpower: I can listen to what people say and instantly tell them how to improve their words or delivery. However, Trust me, I wasn’t born with this ability. It took decades of multifaceted study, practice, and learning from some of the best speech coaches in the world.

Before I realized my destiny was to become a speech coach, I was a dedicated student, taking screenwriting, public speaking, and comedy writing courses. Over thirty years as an in-demand speaker and thousands of presentations later, I refined, adapted, and adjusted the techniques I had learned. This journey led me to coaching executives, engineers, sales teams, and other speakers.

You Can Learn to Be a Great Speaker Too

You are not born a good public speaker; you learn to become one. While some people may find it easier to speak in public, even those with natural talent need to master the principles that save time in preparation, maximize impact, and ensure consistency.

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How often have you wondered where the magic begins in crafting a presentation that captivates, informs, and inspires? Consider yourself the chemist concocting a potion that will enchant your audience. Let’s dive into the three essential ingredients that transform your presentation from ordinary to extraordinary.

The Content: Your Main Ingredient

Add magic to your presentations.

Think of your content as the primary ingredient of your potion. It’s the essence of what you wish convey. This is also how you choose to say it. Just like selecting the finest herbs for a potion, picking the right content involves understanding your message and how it fits the needs and expectations of your audience.

The Structure: The Magic Formula

Once you have your main ingredients and the ideas in your presentation, it’s time to stir them into a coherent structure. This is your magic formula, the blueprint that guides how you arrange your thoughts. Create the flow of your ideas that takes your audience on a journey.

From the captivating opening to the memorable close, your structure supports and amplifies your message. A good structure makes your content more understandable, impactful, and easier for you and your audience to remember.

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It’s a common misconception that only novice public speakers feel nervous before high-stakes presentations.

However, even seasoned speakers experience jitters and anxiety before taking the stage. The adrenaline rush can be overwhelming, and it’s important to remember that nerves are a sign of caring deeply about the message you want to convey. So, embrace your nerves and use them to deliver a powerful and impactful presentation.

It’s a human reaction, not a professional flaw. As a speech coach, I give my clients the advice they need to transform nervous energy into presentations that captivate their audiences.

Adopt a Growth Mindset: View each opportunity to speak as a chance to grow and learn. This perspective shifts your focus from fear of failure to the excitement of personal development.

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Remember how exciting it was when you first fell in love?

Your heart somersaulted every time you met the one you loved. The two of you sat up talking all night and never ran out of something to say. You always seemed to have so much energy. The thrill of falling in love is wonderful.

Soon enough, reality set in, and you had to start working to make the relationship succeed. That’s good, of course. It’s how you truly grow to know and love the other person.

In many ways, a new job is like a love affair.

Fall in love with your career

The first stage is excitement, which can last from an hour to many years. You think, “This job will pay me more money than I’ve ever earned. The clients will be wonderful to deal with. I will expand my knowledge and enjoy exciting experiences.” The novelty of the job keeps your energy high. You are happy because you feel productive and are satisfied with contributing to your team.

Then, the second stage, reality, sets in.

You still enjoy your work; however, you begin to notice some of the irritants and difficulties. Deadlines seem endless and impossible. It becomes harder to arrive early or stay late. You used to love the comradery; now it seems an effort to go in three days a week. The novelty starts to wear off. And, like love, your job has a third stage, too…disillusion.

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Long before the world shifted to remote work, I championed the effectiveness of virtual meetings for coaching and training top professionals. The goal is simple: connect deeply and persuasively with your audience, no matter where they are.Improve your presentations

Here’s how you can enhance your virtual engagement:

Set the Stage: Always ensure your background is neat and professional—this frames your environment and professional image.

Visibility Matters: Activate your webcam! Make eye contact by smiling directly into the camera, crafting what I call “energetic intimacy.”

Stay Hydrated, Stay Refined: It’s natural to need a sip of water during discussions. However, opt for a more elegant solution than a bulky water bottle. My top suggestion? Use a straw! It’s not just about avoiding awkward angles (nobody wants the “up-the-nose” view). It’s about maintaining poise and professionalism without interruption.

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In the crowded arena of professional speaking, standing out is not just about having a message; it’s about having the right strategies to deliver it and the savviness to market it.

That’s where we come in. Join industry experts Patricia Fripp and Lois Creamer for an up-close-and-personal session that promises to elevate your speaking career.

Unlock a few little-known and frequently-overlooked techniques to craft compelling presentations and captivate any audience with Patricia Fripp, a renowned presentation skills expert and creator of FrippVT Powerful, Persuasive Presentations.

Simultaneously, Lois Creamer, acclaimed author of Book More Business: Make Money Speaking, will share her expert knowledge on effectively marketing yourself in the speaking industry. Lois’s strategies are designed to help you find and create more opportunities.

This unique convergence of expertise offers a holistic approach to professional speaking. Whether you’re a seasoned speaker or aspiring to become one, Speak Better Speak More is your catalyst to the next level of your success. Embrace this opportunity to learn from the best, refine your skills, and position yourself as the speaker everyone wants to listen to.

 

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