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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From Boring to Brilliant

In the realm of professional presentations, capturing your audience’s attention from the first few seconds is our goal. According to my speaking philosophy, the initial moments of your presentation are crucial to arouse interest and set the tone for what’s to come. It’s about making your audience sit up and think, “This is going to be good.”

As a proud member of both the National Speakers Association and the Professional Speechwriters Association, I’ve had the privilege of studying numerous speeches by leading figures across various fields. It’s evident that even formal presentations, which often carry the weight of significant messages, don’t have to start in a yawn-inducing manner.

Consider a shift in approach: imagine bypassing the usual introductory formalities and diving straight into a vivid, thought-provoking phrase. For instance, without mentioning who is the speaker or speechwriter…

“Thank you, Dan, and good morning, Ladies and Gentlemen. It is always a pleasure to be back in Houston, particularly as …” Later in the speech, I read, “Many of us have been saying the world has been trying to transition in fog, without a compass, on the road to nowhere.” This not only grabs attention, but it immediately sets a tone of relevance and urgency. Why not begin there? Then, if you have to add pleasantries, do it after your dramatic opening.

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What Is in Your Closet?

Earlier in my speaking career when I was often hired to speak at Spouse Programs at conventions, my speech was called, “Clean Out the Closets of Your Life.” The premise was, we can relate to cleaning out the garage and attic. How about the people, habits, and thoughts that could well be interfering with where you want to go? Remember, this was decades before the world became familiar with the decluttering philosophies of Marie Kondo.

Sorry, not for me. I live alone in a good size house. British people love looking at their treasures, and I certainly do. Many came from my parents, and I smile and feel loved being around them.

If you walked into my dressing room, which would be the master bedroom for normal people, you would see an entire room just for my clothes, hats, shoes, bags, gloves, and jewelry. If Saks runs out of merch, they can shop in my closet. They all fit and look good. One of my pleasures is to look through my clothes to discover how to take an item I have not worn in a while and create a new look.

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“Once Upon a Time.” This phrase is not just an introduction to a fairy tale.

It is a gateway into the rich tapestry that comprises our lives. It marks the inception of a journey where values, experiences, and influences interweave to define who we are. A valuable approach to find our authentic voices and identities. My personal once upon a time has profoundly shaped my professional ethos and methodology.

Once upon a time…

Raised in a quaint town in Southern England, my early years were framed by societal norms with few expectations for girls. Contrary to these norms, the visions and wisdom imparted by my parents planted the seeds of ambition and resilience in me.

The Once Upon a Time Technique

In my practice, I introduce clients to the once-upon-a-time technique at the outset. I prompt them to journey back to…where were you born? What did your parents do? What advice did they give that shaped who you have become?

Reflecting on my upbringing, I recall a period when societal expectations for girls were low. Yet, within me stirred a longing for a life without these constraints. This yearning was not solitary; my brother, Robert Fripp, and I were nurtured on tales of resilience and the power of words. Our mother recounted stories of World War II, highlighting how Winston Churchill, with his meticulously crafted speeches, could inspire a nation amidst adversity. These were not just bedtime stories; they were lessons on the impact of articulate and powerful communication. Unbeknownst to me, these lessons laid the groundwork for my career, emphasizing the profound influence of well-chosen words. My brother, a musician, is one of the most articulate speakers I have ever listened to.

Craft Your Narrative

Your life experience is a reservoir of unique experiences and insights. By mining you’re once-upon-a-time, you uncover a wealth of content that can enrich your speeches, making them memorable and deeply authentic. This technique is not just about storytelling; it’s a journey to understanding the essence of your communicative power. Your unique experiences will resonate with others and foster a connection that transcends the conventional speaker-audience dynamic.

For example, when discussing strategy, I asked my client, “When was the first time he realized the importance of strategy?” “When I was a 14-year-old ball boy before the French Open…”

Another question is, “How do you describe corporate citizenship to your children?” “It was the day after Christmas and I sat both of my children down…”

Another “When did you become passionate about statistics?” “In college. Our professor was a new PhD and we were his first class. When he began telling us…”

Great ideas come from questions.

Another piece of advice I give my clients who need to inspire and motivate their associates is, “They will respect your title. They will fight in the streets when they see the person behind the position.”

As you embark on this exploration, remember that every experience, no matter how trivial it may seem, holds the potential to inspire, influence, and ignite change. Your once upon a time is not just your history; it’s the bedrock of your unique voice and perspective.

What is deeply personal is also universal.

“Thank you for making this the best presentation ever. For decades of teaching and coaching, which has been incorporated into my leadership style and presence. You are a gift to the world, especially to the APA and the thousands of lives you have touched. We are blessed to have you in our lives and do not take your generosity for granted!” – Linda Obertin, CPP, Senior Director, Human Resources, Global Payroll Lead, Hilton

 

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