Want to Write Great Speeches? Enjoy “The Anatomy of a Speech” – Part Five

In 2001 I was invited to deliver the opening keynote speech at the Toastmasters International Convention. In this 10-segment series, you will view the anatomy of a keynote presentation. This is 5 of 10.

“The premise of your speech is not necessarily the title. The title of my speech was ‘Million Dollar Words: Speaking for Results.’ That’s PR. You often write the title of your speech for copy months before you write the speech.

“My premise really is, ‘Even dedicated Toastmasters can be more effective at preparing and presenting powerful programs.’ That leads to the question, ‘How?’

“The answer? By understanding the three necessary ingredients in depth. What I encourage you to do is write down your premise, your one sentence, as you are working on your speech. You might have it on the table next to you so you can clearly know your message.

“Not long ago, I delivered a speech for treasury professionals, and the title of the speech was ‘Selling Yourself and Your Ideas to Upper Management.’ The objective of the speech, the premise that I stated, was, ‘Treasury professionals can sell themselves and their ideas to upper management.’ How? By using Fripp’s tips and success strategies.

“It was success strategies, one, two, and three. Quite easy to remember. Not long ago, my speech for the Continental Breakfast Club, which is a group I speak to every year. I have given 17 different talks for them. This talk was called, ‘My Love Affair with the Movies: Life Lessons from Movie Stars in Hollywood.’

“I didn’t state it outright, but my premise was, ‘We can learn life and business lessons from movie stars.’ After my opening, I restated the title, because not everyone reads the program.

“Then if you think of my three lines, my three points of wisdom with the circle, the first row was movie stars I’ve met and the life lessons; the next row was movie stars my friend Scott McKain interviewed and the life lessons, and the third was Hollywood as a business model and the lessons we can learn from business.

“That was a speech I have given only a couple of times, and I put it together in that formula. As I was walking across the stage, I thought, ‘I’m now at the end of row one.’ As I walked back on the transition to row two, I was thinking ‘Scott McKain,’ and I went through it. It makes it easy for you to remember it.

Lesson: Your premise is your foundational thought or idea.

Lesson: The Fripp Premise Statement is . . .

Every: Who?

Can: The subject of your talk or result

How:  Your talking points that make up the body of your speech. These teach your audience how.

“After you have your premise, after you have the outline, there are many theatrical choices for using the structure. I am going to give you four easy ways this evening.

“I call the first one the ‘Once upon a time’  technique. In other words, you start at the logical start. Perhaps it’s a timeline of your life. Let us imagine I’m giving a speech this evening called, ‘Opportunity Does Not Knock Once,’ and you will see what I mean by the ‘once upon a time’ timeline. Give me applause, and I will start this speech.

“I know you’re wondering, ‘How does a hairstylist get to be a speaker and invited to speak at an International Toastmaster convention?’ Well, I did it by doing one simple thing. If you do the same thing, you can get anything you want in your life. I took advantage of opportunity. Opportunity does not knock once. Opportunity knocks all the time. We just don’t always recognize the sound.

Lesson: By now you know, I would now change “. . . one simple thing” to “. . . one simple action.”

“I did something as a 15-year-old shampoo girl that I have turned into an art form over the years. Very simply, I asked questions. In that posh salon in England, we had rich, glamorous women as customers. As soon as I got to know them, I used to ask, ‘What were you doing when you were my age? How did you make your money? Did you make it yourself or did you marry it? If you made it yourself, how did you do it? If you married it, where did you meet him?’ Good market research. My brother says, ‘Sister, you ask people such personal questions.’

“For 24 years behind a hairstyle chair and years of going to conferences, no one has ever said, ‘That’s none of your damn business.’ People love talking about themselves.

“At 23 years old, I found myself in the Financial District of San Francisco working in one of the first men’s hairstyle salons. I would say to my executive clients, just like you, ‘What made you the best salesperson in your company? What did you do to your little company so that a big company wanted to pay you millions of dollars to buy it?’

“In fact, think about this. If you had a multimillionaire to yourself for 45 minutes, what would you ask? How about a top salesperson who made $200,000 a year in 1972 or a trial lawyer who would explain his strategies for winning unprecedented awards? That was an average day for me before 10:00 a.m. when I owned my hairstyle salon in the Financial District. I said to my staff one day, ‘You are interesting women. Why do you talk such a load of drivel when you have the most fascinating minds in the city?’

Lesson: Asking questions makes you smarter. The larger-than-life TV interviewer, the late Larry King, said, “I never learned anything when I was talking.”

“The key to connection is conversation. The secret of conversation is to ask questions. The quality of the information you receive depends on the quality of your questions. Every time you have an opportunity to ask questions, you have an opportunity to grow.

“I was 30 years old when I opened my own hairstyle salon. On my very first day, the very first week, one of my multimillionaire clients, Manny Lozano, sat in my chair and gave me advice. And I don’t know about you, but when multimillionaires give me advice, I usually try to remember it. He said, ‘Patricia, I don’t care when you can’t squeeze another stylist in this salon. I don’t care when you can’t get another client on your appointment calendar. You must keep promoting because you must always resell the customers you have. This is still the place to come to, and you resell your staff, at least for this point in time, this is where they want to work.’

“You see, if life is a series of sales situations, the real sale comes after the sale.”

 Lesson: The quality of the information you receive depends on the quality of your questions.

 Talk to Patricia Fripp about how she can help you with your presentations.

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