What Do Cutting Hair And Writing A Speech Have in Common?

Patricia Fripp Hall of Fame Speaker with Her Brother Robert Fripp Guitarist
Patricia Fripp Speaking with Her Brother, Legendary Guitarist, Robert Fripp

Hall of Fame Speaker, in-demand speech coach, and former hairstylist, Patricia Fripp learns a valuable principle from her brother, King Crimson guitarist, Robert Fripp…

What Do Cutting Hair And Writing A Speech Have in Common?

One day, after I had retired as a hairstylist, I was cutting my brother’s hair, and he said, “Sister, you really are the best hairstylist I’ve ever had. You’re probably one of the best hairstylists in the world.” I said, “Well, I don’t know about that, but when I was teaching people to cut hair, I told them, ‘It doesn’t matter if you’ve had 20 years of experience, you still have to show me that you can cut the basic haircut. You take the first cut, the guideline, and you match; you balance the whole haircut around the guide. Then you do the lining and the edgings, and then you add the magic. You run your fingers through the client’s hair, and it will talk to you and tell you how to personalize it for that haircut.’”

“The way I taught stylists to cut hair is exactly the way I teach people to create a speech. Your first cut is your premise, your central theme. What’s the big idea you’re selling? The framework has the talking points that build it. The outline and the framework are the open and the close. Running your fingers through the hair and having the hair talk to you is your talking through your speech, getting it into your body, and seeing if it feels right.” I said, “Brother, I always make sure that an experienced speaker, just like an experienced hairstylist, can prove that they can give me the simple structure. If they prove it, then they can start anywhere.” My brother summed it all up by saying, “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.”

Mastery takes a while; my brother Robert Fripp says 21 years. I was first paid to speak in 1976, and I’m still working at improving. It does get easier all the time.

My brother would say, “With music, as with speaking, when you do something well, everyone says, ‘Oh, he’s a natural,’ or ‘Oh, she doesn’t have to work at it.’” Even for those with natural talent, however, if it looks easy, it means that one has mastered the technique through the discipline of following the process.

Years ago at a seminar I asked Bud Friedman, founder of the Improv comedy clubs, “Mr. Friedman, is there such a thing as natural talent?” He replied, “Yes, there is. However, there is no such thing as overnight success. Jay Leno was naturally talented. He used to drive very far to get just a few minutes on stage; in the end I gave him time because of that drive. Then I realized he had talent. It still took him years to hone his skills and get established.”

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“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.