10 Ways to Make Your Leadership Presentations Powerful

Patricia Fripp Speaking on 3 elements of a presentation through FrippVT.
Patricia Fripp explains how your presentation can sound professional through FrippVT.

Executive speech coaching secrets from Patricia Fripp. Do you know the tiny differences that make an enormous impact?

Based on my thirty plus years speaking professionally and coaching executives and leaders I promise you many leaders are foolish enough to believe that because they are experts in their subject matter, they can get their point across effectively with little or no preparation. Wrong!

Many of my executive coaching clients are good and are consistently searching for ways to become great. My goal is to challenge them to have more impact by being powerfully pithy. We do this by reading the transcription of their last important presentation.

Print out your script, and read what came out of your mouth. You will be surprised, shocked, and, like some of my clients, horrified!

To make vast improvements, analyze what you have said, and put your words under a magnifying glass. Look for ways to be clearer, sharper, and more specific. This is much easier when you look at the script rather than listening to the live recording.

As you highlight your script with different color markers, you are looking for the following:

Verbal Tics

“So,” “I mean,” “Right,” “You know what I mean,” “To tell the truth.”

Highlight or underline these words in yellow.

Lack of Specificity

 Specificity builds credibility and clarity. Watch your use of “bunches,” “tons,” “things,” and “stuff.” These non-specific words devalue your message, and, therefore, your fee.

Highlight or underline these words in pink.


“Think outside of the box,” “The writing on the wall,” “That and a quarter will get you a cup of coffee,” etc.  Replace clichés with original phrasing.

Highlight or underline these words in green.

Empty Words

“Out there,” “At the end of the day,” “Each and every one of you in this room.”

Jerry Seinfeld: “I will invest an hour in taking eight words down to five.”

Highlight or underline. By now you understand!

Focused Language.

Highlight your “I”s, and rephrase with you-focused language. For example, “I am going to talk about . . .” becomes “You will learn . . .”

Word Choice

A single, suddenly-popular buzzword reminds me of fingernails screeching on a blackboard. It’s “stuff.”

At one of my client’s meetings to launch a new solution that had been a $40 million dollar investment, their charismatic National Sales Manager was delivering a powerful presentation. He lost my respect when I heard, “Our clients need our stuff.”

Specificity builds credibility, and your message is more likely to be remembered and repeated.

When you read your actual spoken words, you can change them on your script for future presentations. For example, change “I hope you are leaving with three things” to “My challenge to you as you are about to leave is, What are your three major commitments?”

Setup Phrase and Impact Phrase.

This is a concept that comes from the world of comedy. We are familiar with the setup phrase and the punch word or phrase that triggers the laughter. When you step on your punch word, you kill or minimize the laughter. In business communications, I call the punch phrase the impact phrase.

The impact phrase comes at the end of a sentence.

In 98% of presentations, any unit of time is a setup phrase. For example: “Today,” “In the next 45 minutes,” “Next quarter,” “In 1954,” or “In last year’s elections.”

For impact and memorability, don’t say, “To celebrate your accomplishments in 2014 . . .” Say, “To celebrate your 2014 accomplishments . . .”

Rather than, “This will be our focus for the next two days,” use, “For the next two days, this will be our focus.”

Correct Order

Although this is not how we normally speak or write, it is a much more effective way to speak. The audience can see and understand your message when you present it as follows:

The Fripp When, Where, Who, What Happened Formula

A newscaster would say, “President Obama gave a speech on health care at Yale University yesterday.”

The Fripped version: “Yesterday (When – “Okay, this is recent history.”) at Yale University (Where – “Oh, I have never been there. I bet it has great buildings and beautiful grounds.”), President Obama (Who… “I know who that is.”) gave a speech on health care” (What Happened is more important than when or where it happened). What came last is most memorable.

Visual Shorthand

Forget pronouns, adverbs, verbs, etc. Think picture words and connecting words.

Consider the sentence, “I walked into the boss’s office.” The action, emotion, and visual scene changes if you change walked to any of these: ran, sauntered, staggered, skipped, raced, or meandered.

A lawyer client was working on a speech on modern day slavery. She said, “He promised her many things.” I told her, “No. He promised her a life of romance and adventure. Those two words help the audience fill in the whole story. They can now understand why a young woman would leave the safety of her home and go off with this man.”

Patricia Fripp can be YOUR personal speech coach with her interactive on-line training FrippVT. Take a trial.