How to Become a Renowned Keynote Speaker: Patricia Fripp Speaks – Podcast 29

Eamonn O'Brien Interviews Patricia Fripp

What does it take to write a keynote speech and to become a keynote speaker?

If you’ve ever wondered how to become a keynote speaker and to grow your visibility and popularity as an expert speaker, while avoiding pitfalls that could impede your progress…

…You’re in luck.

In today’s expert interview, Hall of Fame keynote speaker, former President of the National Speakers Association, and executive communications coach Patricia Fripp graciously chatted with me at a recent night out with the Professional Speaking Association of Ireland about what it takes to become a truly stellar speaker.

How to Become a Keynote Speaker

Listen in as we chat about:

  • Why you must take great care if you promote yourself as a motivational or humorous speaker
  • What event organisers really pay for when hiring a speaker
  • The personal benefits of growing your speaking presence or business
  • An inside track secret that can help you to secure more speaking engagements
  • What Patricia learned from Darren’s bedroom…and you can too (and no, it’s not smutty)!
  • Essential tactics that will help you to become a more highly regarded speaker
  • How the principles used to create success in Hollywood and the music industry can help you to hone your craft
  • What causes Patricia to swoon when listening to other speakers and lessons you can apply to up your speaking game
  • And more

Over to You

Please share any comments, suggestions, or questions that occur to you from today’s interview. I’m always delighted to hear from you.


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Interview Transcript

Eamonn: This is Eamonn O’Brien. You’re very welcome to Reluctant Speakers Expert Series, and today we are going to have a chat with Patricia Fripp…all the way from San Francisco.

Motivational Speech Examples – Why Keynote Speakers Should Learn Elsewhere

And Patricia, you are a Hall of Fame speaker, you are the first woman to ever become the President of the National Speakers Association, and you’re and a world renowned executive speech coach. And today I’d like to have a few words with you about what it takes to up your speaking game and to become a stellar international keynote speaker.

Patricia: So let’s start. One, I do not believe for anyone who wants to be well known in their company, their industry, or internationally as a “put up your shingles” speaker should call themselves motivational. The world does not really need another motivational speaker. What the world needs is content experts that delivers their message in an interesting, entertaining way.

So I would consider that motivational is to do with the delivery of our message, not the message. Because there is, or let’s say, there are many high paid opportunities that would consider a motivational speaker fluff. So we are just as..I would not call yourself a humorous speaker, unless you truly are. In America, we think of Jeanne Robertson, true, original humorist.

It is because we all know there are the same speech in two different situations with different audiences a very different response. So humor, what you might say motivational, inspirational is a side benefit of your expertise. I would say of myself, I am an entertaining, thought-provoking speaker in the areas of… Remember, they pay us for what we know. They will pay us well for delivering it well with the entertainment factor, however, you’d call it.

Eamonn: Which is wonderful. And if I were to ask you, in terms of what you get out of being a speaker, if there were three words you could use to describe how it makes you feel, what would they be?

Patricia: Education, opportunities, and the feeling of competence.

Eamonn: And the feeling of competence.

To segue slightly, because you are an expert speaker and we’ve absolutely been wowed by you over in London, you’ve learned many things over the years. And if there was one lesson, maybe the hardest lesson you had to learn – and this could have been at the early part or maybe later on in your career –  what was the hardest lesson you had to take on board?

Patricia: I won’t say it was the hardest lesson, although I had to learn how to do it. And that is to take whatever message you have, be it technology, your image, your time management, your presentation, whatever, and personalize it and customize it for the audience.

Earlier in my career, I received a letter from the chairman of a company. It said, “Dear Patricia, we enjoyed your presentation and I thought you would like to know that earlier this year we hired a speaker who charged us twice as much as you do and she wasn’t nearly as good a speaker. However, what she did, which I recommend you do, is her message was very customized to us.”

And I appreciated that someone that important took the time rather than just, “We enjoyed your message.” And I took it back to heart although at that point I would not have known how to do it. Now for those of you who have created your keynote by next week, one of the bonus materials is something I just came up with a list and recorded in Darren’s bedroom/recording studio.

Eamonn: We better explain that that’s Darren LaCroix, and this is a business relationship. Otherwise, this would go viral.

Patricia: Oh, definitely, definitely. I came up with 17 different ways to personalize or customize your speech. And if there has been one skill I have developed which has probably been more beneficial to making money even than all my nuances with speaking, delivery, and techniques, some of which I believe my techniques nobody else talks about quite the way I do. And that is to learn how to take my content and have people believe I’ve worked in their industry. Or it’s very obvious to them that although my core message is the same there are segments of this speech that I could not, and would not use for any other audience.

Eamonn: Yeah.

Patricia: So if a speaker, in any venue, whether it’s a corporate speaker who’s ambitious or a leader that goes to different countries and different groups. Or someone who wants to “put up their shingle” wants to be world-class, they one, have to focus on their message. Two, need to know how to personalize it for this group at this point. Three, always look at learning something new so it stays fresh and exciting for the delivery. Because what you often find when you really get your content down, you begin to get a bit tired of it. So you have to make sure you’re not because the audience can know if you’re going through the motions.

Eamonn: Yeah. So you have to remain inspired. And on that note and maybe my last question for you.

Patricia: I hadn’t finished the last one.


Eamonn: Please finish that.

Patricia: Then, number four…


How to Write a Keynote Speech – Why You Can Learn From Screenwriters

Patricia: …is I would look within other disciplines because the principles in any one discipline are exactly the same as the principles in any other discipline. For example, You heard I said I attended, at least, a dozen, probably 15 screenwriting classes. I have absolutely no talent or interest in being a screenwriter. However, Hollywood knows how to tell a story like nobody else. So I would go to screenwriting classes to look at what can I take from what I’m learning to help my corporate clients, to help speakers, to help me. And this is one specific technique, for example. And I mentioned this in my Friday session when someone was up. I can’t remember who. There is a Hollywood technique. You get to the scene late, and you leave early.

And there are a lot of us we spend too long setting up the situation whereas, you just need to take us to the action faster. Then, maybe, you’re going to fill in some background later.

Or you find a way in one sentence to do the setup so you’re there.

Eamonn: Yep.

Patricia: You also look at music, or a band, or a singer. It’s a technique. They will start with their second best song and close with their best song. I wish I could do that in speeches. I don’t think I do.


Patricia: However, I am very familiar with the technique, so I always work on it.

Eamonn: Can I tell you that that’s the number one tip for comedians to start with their second best joke and to finish with their best.

Patricia: So that is living proof that the principles in one discipline are exactly the same.

Eamonn: Exactly that.

Patricia: Yeah.

Eamonn: Good. And actually building on the notion of all of those things. I have one final question, which I will now get to. Which is this…

Definition of a Keynote Speaker – What Characteristics Matter?

…If you look at, and you’ve listened to so many, speakers all over the world, and you think now that person really impressed me – Are there certain characteristics that as a speaking coach and as a keynote speaker, you appreciate especially? And what would they be? What characteristics do you enjoy and gravitate towards?

Patricia: I salivate over segues.

Audience: Over what ways?

Patricia: Segues.

Interviewer: Yes.

Patricia: I remember hearing Al Walker give a speech, past president. See, he’s a humorous speaker but read with content. And I was listening to him and I was just, I mean, I was almost swooning…


Patricia: …swooning over this…

Eamonn: This would be a good time for a photo op!

Patricia: …segue.


Patricia: How he’d go from one point to the other. Oh, it was wonderful. I would look at originality. Jeanne Robertson, who was President of NSA the year after I was, is probably the…I would put her up as the hardest working speaker ever. She is always working on new material. She does a recording of a brand new humorous speech every year.

Now we could write new speeches, but with humor. It has to be funny and tight and believable. So it all goes down to her discipline to do it. And then, of course, you’ve go to organize your life. So even if you are disciplined, you can really do it and fit it in your life.

Then there are other individuals I’ve looked at. I saw one, and I thought, I have never seen anyone who is a more naturally good speaker than this person. And I wrote to the agent who booked him and I said, “I just saw him and he’s absolutely fabulous, the best natural speaker I’ve ever seen. Shame he’s not quite living up to his potential.” Needless to say, that led to three days in Canada helping him understand exactly how to do that.

Eamonn: That’s a wonderful answer. Thank you for that. Good. Well, I knew Patricia that you would have some stellar answers to these questions.

Thank you for listening. This is the Reluctant Speakers Club Expert Series. And until the next time, here’s to great speaking.


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