What Discipline Can Do for Natural Talent

Patricia Fripp & Robert Fripp at SpeakerPalooza
Patricia Fripp with Her Brother Legendary Guitarist Robert Fripp

Before I became a successful professional speaker and executive speech coach, I was one of San Francisco’s top men’s hairstylists.  As I said on 60 Minutes – and if you’re on 60 Minutes someday, you WILL tell EVERYBODY – “I used to work on the outside of peoples’ heads, now I work on the inside, so there’s only half an inch difference.” Years after I’d retired from hairstyling, I was cutting my brother Robert Fripp’s hair. He said, “Sister, you really are the best hairstylist I’ve ever had. You’re probably one of the best hairstylists in the world.”

You can excuse the proud brother, and I don’t know that is totally true, however, what I can tell you with conviction is that when I was teaching people to cut hair, even if they already had years of experience, I said, “Show me that you can cut in the basic haircut. You must be able to take the first cut as a guideline and create the structure of the hair cut, by matching and balancing the whole haircut around this guideline. Only after this, can you add the magic – the part when you run your fingers through the client’s hair and it ‘talks’ to you and tells you how you personalize the haircut.”

Legendary Guitarist Robert Fripp
Legendary Guitarist Robert Fripp

It may interest you to know, that how I taught stylists to cut men’s hair is exactly how I teach ambitious professionals and professional speakers how to create a great speech.

The basis of all good speeches is the structure. That is the foundation of your message. What I call the “skeleton under the flesh of your words.” Your first “cut” is your premise, or your central theme. Ask yourself, “What’s the primary idea I am trying to get across?” From this “guideline” you create the basic framework of your speech – including the opening and the closing. After this, the “running your fingers through the hair and having it ‘talk’ to you” is just like when you refine your speech by talking it through out loud;you get it into your body and discover what changes and edits you can make so it feels “right”.

In sharing this with Robert I said,  “Brother, I always make sure, even an experienced speaker, just like an experienced hairstylist, can prove to me that they can give me the simple structure first. If they can prove this, then they can start anywhere they like.” My brother said, “Well, Sister, of course, that is because you always have to master the technique in order to abandon it. It has to become second nature.

When writing a short speech, start with your main point and keep this in focus as you build the structure of your speech around it. Later, as you speak your words aloud, record them, and listen to what actually comes out of your mouth. Next tighten and improve your speech. Edit to remove any run-on thoughts or digressions. Eliminate all non-words, clichés and redundancies.

Often I am asked, “Is it possible for anyone to become a great speaker?” Others want to know, “Can I become good enough to get paid to speak?” My reply is “I guarantee you do not lack the talent to do this. You might lack the patience. Learn to love the process. Mastery takes a while.” Robert Fripp says novice to mastery takes 21 years. I first got paid to speak in 1976. Like every true professional, I’m always working to improve.

My brother says with music as with speaking, “When you do something well, everyone says, ‘Oh, he’s a natural.’ ‘Oh, she doesn’t have to worry; this comes naturally.’ However, even when it appears effortless  – even with natural talent – you still need the discipline of following the process and doing the work.” When I listen to Robert Fripp I am reminded to never question genius.

Toyah Willcox with Husband Robert Fripp on Mr and Mrs
Robert Fripp with His Wife Toyah Willcox on ITV’s All Star Mr and Mrs

Robert Fripp is well-known within the music industry as being erudite and contemplative. However, he also has a sense of play which infuses his superb and entertaining keynote presentations. You can get a glimpse of Robert’s playful side in this recent appearance with his wife Toyah Willcox on ITV’s “All Star Mr & Mrs.” Enjoy the highlights in this video clip: Robert Fripp & Toyah Willcox on All Star Mr & Mrs.

Learn more about Robert Fripp’s keynote presentations with Patricia Fripp.

Fripp Virtual TrainingIf you want to become a great speaker easily, conveniently, and quickly, Fripp Virtual Training can help. Enjoy three free chapters on Stories, Openings, and Sales: http://frippvt.com

“I wanted a super bowl-quality coach, and I was lucky to be introduced to Patricia Fripp. Her help in coaching and scripting was world class. With Patricia Fripp on your team, you can go places.”
– Don Yaeger, Long-Time Associate Editor for Sports Illustrated magazine, Award-Winning Keynote Speaker, New York Times Best-Selling Author

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Executive Speech Coach and Hall of Fame Keynote Speaker Patricia Fripp works with those who realize that powerful, persuasive presentation skills give them a competitive edge.