Presentation Experts Fripp, LaCroix, and Brown: Speech Openings That Are Remembered And Repeated
Whether you’re talking to one person or 100, you want to connect with your audience in less than one minute, if you want to be remembered and repeated.
“You have thirty seconds to immediately command the attention of your audience. Don’t waste it,” says Patricia Fripp, co-author with Darren LaCroix and Mark Brown of the book Deliver Unforgettable Presentations: How To Speak To Be Remembered And Repeated In-Person, Online And Onstage (2022, Indie Books International).
Fripp is past president of the National Speakers Association and LaCroix and Brown are both past Toastmasters World Champions of Public Speaking.
The authors agree at the beginning of a speech, presentation, seminar, client meeting, report to senior management, sales presentation, or any manner of presentation you deliver, you need to arouse interest in the subject. That means a strong opening.
“The purpose of your opening is twofold: to get the audience’s attention and to make an indelible connection,” advises Brown. “Ideally, a strong opening establishes a link to your audience and your subject.”
Whatever opening you choose, make sure it transitions into your premise. Here are some possibilities excerpted from the book:
A Story. This is always an audience pleaser. Consider using a story of overcoming a challenge or adversity or of a situation where a mentor showed you the way.
Interesting Statistics Or Little-Known Facts. If possible, start with an interesting statistic or little-known fact. No doubt you have several within your presentation. Bring one into the opening and add an emotion before it. “Would it interest/surprise/amaze you to know . . .”
A Powerful Quotation. The authors recommend you use quotes from influencers in your own life, such as your parents, coach, or first boss. You never want to flavor the opening with the idea, “I have heard this before; nothing in this talk is likely to be new.”
A Question. If you ask a question such as, “Have you ever stood up to speak and forgotten what you wanted to say?” the most likely answer would be nods from the audience. The next time you ask this type of question, change it to “How often have you . . . ?” The assumption is more than once, it will happen again, and your message becomes more urgent.
A Rhetorical Question. This is asked for effect, with no answer expected. “If I were to ask you…” Be aware of the possibility that someone will answer. Be ready to respond and move on.
A Challenge. A challenge is expected after your presentation. You may also want to start with a challenge for your audience to take action, give them information to be in a position to take action, and restate your challenge near the end.
Tie To The Headlines. News headlines are a simple way to make your prepared presentation appear to be spontaneous. Hold that day’s Wall Street Journal and ask, “Did you have time to read the Wall Street Journal this morning? The headline on page three ties directly to my presentation.”
Bold Claim Or Big Promise. A bold claim could be, “In the next two hours, you will learn more about presentation skills than in your four years at college.” Of course, if you make a bold claim, you must be able to meet that claim and exceed the audience’s expectations.
Read A Letter, Email, Or Review. Whenever you receive a complimentary letter, email, or magazine article, no doubt you want to ask yourself, “Is there a way I could use this in the opening of a presentation?”
Compliment The Audience. Find something praiseworthy about your audience and deliver it with sincerity. Patricia helped a marketing executive to create this opening: “What a magnificent opportunity to present the marketing tool kit to the best sales team in the pharmaceutical industry. You spoke, we listened, and we are about to unveil the results of your request.”
Relevant Humor. A joke is risky because of the high probability that your audience has heard it before, even if it’s funny. LaCroix says, “We recommend that you uncover humor in a real-life story, and make it funnier with exaggeration. At the meeting, you may see, hear, or experience a funny situation that everyone is aware of.”
Speaking of the opening options, Fripp says, “Certain speech openings captivate, mystify, and create an emotional bond that keeps an audience in the palm of the speaker’s hand.”
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“I wanted a super bowl quality coach. Patricia Fripp’s help in coaching and scripting was world-class. With Fripp, Darren and Mark on your team, you can go places.” Don Yaeger, Long-Time Associate Editor for Sports Illustrated magazine, Thirteen-Time New York Times Best-Selling Author
“Deliver Unforgettable Presentations is not another how to map from another “supposed expert” purporting to know how to help you! No, in a global world of noise, Deliver Unforgettable Presentations is the light on the horizon that gives you clarity, confidence and direction to elevate and accelerate your success by three of the true global leaders in the speaking industry! Patricia Fripp, Darren LaCroix and Mark Brown, are true leaders among leaders. I have known them for more than two-decades and it does not surprise me that everyone quotes them. Learn their insights, methods and understand why CEO’s hire them to up-their-game!” Dr. Jeffrey Magee, CMC/CBE/CSP/PDM, Author 20 books, three college graduate management text books, four best sellers, and is the Publisher of Performance Magazine.
“You are never going to find such a usable book on how to deliver an unforgettable presentation anywhere. So, you might as well get this one! The authors give you a step-by-step procedure to start your speech, with engaging and multiple examples to illustrate the seven steps that make up this book from start to finish. Whether you are a beginning speaker with nervous knocking knees when you stand in front of a group or someone who has been delivering presentations for years, you are going to refine your approach. I guarantee it. As a speaker for decades around the globe, I am stunned by the depth and detail of the authors’ message. If you are delivering a make-or-break business sales pitch, a celebratory speech, or a simple start to a meeting — you will find what you need in this book. It’s also the kind of book where you can skip around, practice some of the ideas you encounter, and then go back and restudy the approach. This little book may become your best lifetime speaking friend!” Janelle Barlow, Ph.D. Author of four books including best-seller A Complaint is a Gift
“Words have the power to change the direction of your life. When those words are crafted and delivered in the right way the presentation becomes Unforgettable. Three of the most accomplished speakers in the world…read again, ‘in the world,’ have written this guide for you to master the power of unforgettable presentations. Follow their advice and let’s change the world!” Jim Cathcart, CSP, CPAE, Golden Gavel Award 2001, Speaker Hall of Fame 1985, Author of 21 books including Speaking Secrets of The Masters.
“This book provides you with a short cut to success. Whether you’re starting a business or running one, nothing will provide you with a faster shortcut to success than this book. In my experience, nothing will elevate your business faster than having the tools to be a good speaker. The confidence you can get when you know what you’re doing when you take the platform can be life-changing.” Mitzi Perdue (Mrs. Frank Perdue), Businesswoman, Speaker, Author of Tough Man, Tender Chicken: Business and Life Lessons from Frank Perdu and How to Make Your Family Business Last