Public Speaking: How Did Patricia Fripp Get Started?

Q: When did you first start speaking? How long until speaking became your full-time job?

A: In 1976, when I was San Francisco’s #1 men’s hairstylist, I started delivering seminars to hairstylists for a hair product company called Markham. Through recommendations from my executive clients, Rotary Clubs and men’s breakfast clubs invited me to speak. Afterwards, the audience members often came into my salon. I quickly realized that this was an inexpensive way to promote my business.

It paid well, too. After one of my first Rotary Club speeches, someone asked, “What would you charge to say all this to the Oakland Appliance Dealers?” and I said, “$50.” At my next talk, someone else offered $125. By 1977, I was earning $175 as a speaker outside of the hairstyling industry.

With that, I decided to go to my first National Speakers Association (NSA) convention. I was sure that no one would want to talk to me, since I had only spoken in front of Rotary Clubs and hairdressers. However, two amazing things happened: I realized this might be something I wanted to do in the future; and I was discovered by a big-time promoter named Mike Frank. He booked me to speak to two thousand people on the same program with Dr. Robert Schuller, Pastor of Garden Grove Cathedral. I left my first NSA convention believing that perhaps I could be a speaker!

One of the best decisions I made was to view professional speaking as a long-term goal. Here was the dilemma. I loved my hairstyling business and was two years into a ten-year lease. My goal was to remain a hairstylist until age forty and then become a professional speaker. I started hairstyling when I was fifteen, so by forty, I figured I would have spent twenty-five years behind a chair.

As it turned out, I “retired” at thirty-nine because I became President of the National Speakers Association—the first woman to achieve this prestigious position. Since the presidency took so much time, it turned into the perfect transition. My motto became, “I used to work on the outside of people’s heads. Now I work on the inside!”

Patricia is known for simplifying and demystifying the process of designing and delivering powerful keynote speeches and sales presentations. She provides customized presentation skills training for a variety of professionals in different industries. If you are searching for basic or advanced training and coaching in presentation skills, public speaking, business communication, speechwriting, and media training, Patricia Fripp can help.