THE Executive Speech Coach Patricia Fripp: Q and A

After my National Speakers Association NSA WEBINAR on presentation skills, with Tom Drews as my moderator, there were questions. Here they are an the answers.

Q. How long should a signature story be?

As long as it takes to make your point and continue to engage and delight your audience.
The longer the story the more ideas to be developed later in the speech.

Q. Do you ever recommend to a speaker that they get some training on their use of voice…like breathing, vocal support, pitch variety, volume?

Yes. Your best bet is with an acting coach or perhaps even a Yoga teacher.

Q. I realize this is really basic, but what in your mind makes a good signature story?

The signature story needs to be somehow connected to your premise or central theme of your speech. Well-developed characters, dialogue, emotional connection and relevance to the audience. A good chuckle is a bonus. As my World Champions Edge partner Darren LaCroix says, “The problem is funny, the solution is serious.”

Q. My job when speaking is to inspire people to believe they can do something they probably will never achieve – I know that and they don’t. (Getting books published successfully) Their odds are microscopic with their memoirs of living in Wisconsin and having a sick cat. I feel guilty about being enthusiastic, feel guilty when I’m honest, but the truth is, 90% of the people at a conference are wasting their time being there. The specific question is, how does one speak to the 1-3% who will actually apply one’s message and not be disturbed by the rest who will not? Anthony Robbins told me that only 2-3% of his audience ever applies the message.
As the first president of the National Speakers Association, Bill Gove said “We are responsible to our audience…not FOR our audience.” As long as you give the information on HOW, your excitement of WHY, and your personal successful experience that is all you can do. If it bothers you too much…change the topic. As I tell speakers when I teach them how to construct and deliver a speech… “You may have the talent, do you have the patience?”

I once asked Bud Friedman, Founder of the Improv Comedy Clubs, “Is there such a thing as natural talent?” He said, “Yes, however there is no such thing as overnight success.”
That is worth tweeting!

Q. What are some of the best ways to reduce stiffness and rigidity in movement in their delivery? This would include gestures.

Warm up before you go on stage. Again, an acting coach will teach you what actors do.
Remover the stress from your face with “chewing” exercises, shake the tension out of your arms and legs. Robin Williams does jumping jacks, Mick Jagger has a mini running
Area so he can run up and down for 20 minutes before going on stage. I do accept the front tables to sit with the VIPs before my speech if I am not the first on the program. It is tough to be dynamic from sitting down for 2 hours. I need to be pacing and getting the words into my body.

Q. Your PowerPoint is great. Do you use it a lot?

My PowerPoint is created by my associate Jim Prost. Yes, I use it 100% of the time for training and my speaking schools. Often, with a lot less slides, in keynotes as well. For webinars you use a lot more slides to keep the audience engaged.

My next school on Public Speaking Skills is in Las Vegas June 10-11.

Patricia Fripp, CSP, CPAE is an in-demand keynote speaker, executive speech coach and sales presentation skills trainer.
In 1984 was President of NSA.