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

“This is your homework assignment. (Now I would call it a Frippercize.) I want you to sit down with some of your other Toastmaster friends and tape-record all the stories you’ve never told in speeches. Take an incident in your life, start at the beginning, and go all the way through. I have two ‘hanging-around buddies’ in San Francisco: John Cantu, comedy legend, and David Garfinkel, genius copywriter. David would also love to write film scripts. I like to think of myself as a charismatic keynoter.

“We call ourselves the ‘Three Musketeers’ of speech writing. A couple of years ago, on December 26th, the three of us got together for our annual holiday morning coffee and lunch. This was the first social event that John Cantu had had since his recent operation to have a large cancerous tumor removed. And three minutes into his talking about the symptoms of the cancer and how it got started, I said, ‘John, hang on. This is going to be a speech one day. Let me get the tape recorder.’”

Yes, I know, we no longer use tape recorders.  

Lesson: Record conversations with interesting friends, especially when they are telling stories of life-changing experiences. You never know what may happen.

“As John was telling us the story, from the beginning and all the way through, it was funny; it was poignant; it was dramatic. We recorded all of it. We then had the entire two and a half hours transcribed. Not only did this end up being a talk that John delivered called, “Laughing all the Way to the Hospital,” we also turned it into a seminar and re-enacted it for our other speaker friends.

“In other words, record everything, but also hang around with people who have different strengths. I see everything as a potential speech. Cantu saw everything as funny, even the cancer operation, and Garfinkel sees everything as a made-for-television movie. Do that with your friends.”

Lesson: Collaborate with friends from other disciplines.

“Now you have your structure. You have your variety of openings. You have your material. You make your stories come alive. Of course, there’s nothing like stage time when it comes to improving your delivery. Pause. Have variety. Of course, whenever we talk about delivery, especially when we think of timing, you always think of whom? Jack Benny. Exactly, Jim Cathcart, you’re smart. And you didn’t even know what I was going to do. Would you like to hear what Jack Benny says about timing?”

Play the video to hear the voice of Jack Benny.

Larry Wilde: “What exactly is timing?”

Jack Benny: “Well, sometimes I think that I’ve been given a lot more credit than I merit in that, because every good comedian has to have, right off the reel, good timing. Otherwise, he can’t even appear any place. Without timing you can’t appear any place. I think the reason other comedians and maybe the public, who is gradually getting to know about timing, they know the words now, is because I talk very slowly. And I talk almost like I’m talking to you now. You know, I might hesitate. I might think. I might do things that would be, everybody has a feeling at home watching television, or when they come to a theater, that I’m addressing him or her individually.”

Note: This last sentence could use a little cleaning up. However, if you listen to the embedded video, it is an exact transcription.  

Lesson: A speech is not a conversation. Just as with comedy, however, it needs to sound conversational.

Jack Benny: “They feel that I’m doing it for them, and it’s because I talk slowly, and I make it a point to talk like I would in a room with fellas now. They think my timing is great for that reason. Now other people have great timing, but they talk very fast. Now it would be very tough for them to talk slowly. It’d be tough for me to talk fast. Talk about fine timing, George Burns, who times similarly, certainly has a similar timing to mine.”

Lesson: Don’t talk so fast that your audience can’t digest what you are saying.

Larry Wilde: “Is it possible to define timing?”

Jack Benny: “It’s tough to define it, isn’t it? Because I rarely use the word pause, rhythm. You see, my pause is fortunate. Fortunately, it even went over in radio where you couldn’t see me. The audience felt the pauses, you know?”

Lesson: The written word is for the eye. The spoken word is for the rhythm.

“Just a couple of other ideas from your diagram to think about. It says, ‘Do not be the hero of all your stories.’ Tell stories that you might have witnessed, seen, heard, and learned. Remember, don’t be the hero of all your stories.

“A few years ago, I was speaking for State Farm when a woman came up to me and said, ‘I hate motivational speakers, but they made me come to hear you, and you were quite good.’

“I asked, ‘Why do you hate motivational speakers?’ She said, ‘Because all they ever do is tell you how good they are.’ Bill Gove, Golden Gavel winner, said, ‘Very often a speaker gives you the impression they came down from the mountaintop with the tablets from God with the answers to life. Where is the motivation for your audience if you give them the impression that you always knew what you were talking about?’

“The next idea is the ‘I-you ratio.’ How do you bring the audience into your speech? I hope you have noticed that there have been many times when I bring you into the conversation. Think of this opening line. Newt Gingrich said, ‘If you were born today, you would already owe $186,000 to pay off your share of the natural debt.’ Twice he’s talking about you. Anytime you say ‘imagine,’ you bring people into your speech. Always look at how they are integrated into your remarks.

“We’ve been in this room a long time. I hope my remarks, my ideas have been helpful to you. If you’d like more, go to www.fripp.com/blog There are hundreds of free articles on speaking. Check out Great Comedians Talk About Comedy.

“What can I say? When I first turned up at Cable Car Toastmasters in 1975, who would have thought I’d one day have the opportunity to open an international convention with a kind and generous audience? You know, it never ceases to amaze me that intelligent, well-educated, and ambitious people frequently overlook developing the number one skill that is guaranteed to position them ahead of the crowd. Namely, the ability to stand up and speak eloquently with confidence.

“Perhaps it is because, as Jack Lemmon said, ‘It takes the nerve of a bullfighter, the energy of a nightclub host, and the concentration of a Buddhist monk.’ And let’s face it, it doesn’t hurt to join Toastmasters. Thank you.”

Lesson: This is an example of the circular technique

Garfinkel, Cantu, Fripp collaborating.

Note: The late John Cantu was a comedy legend who founded the Holy City Zoo comedy club where many of the comedy greats got their start. Robin Williams, Kevin Bacon, A. Whitney Brown, Dana Carvey, Ellen DeGeneres, Nora Dunn, Will Durst, Kevin Meaney, Kevin Nealon, Paula Poundstone, Rob Schneider, and Bobby Slayton.

Great Comedians Talk About Comedy

Does your presentation deserve the very best? Let’s talk.

Review segment one

Review segment two

Review segment three

Review segment four

Review segment five

Review segment six   

Review segment seven

Review segment eight

Review segment nine.

 

 

Read More...

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

“I’ve mentioned my brother, Robert Fripp, a couple of times. You may have heard of Robert Fripp. He has a group called King Crimson, and he travels all over the world teaching his guitar techniques.”

Lesson: Not all your stories are about you. Just have a connection.

“King Crimson was born in 1969. A couple of years ago, Robert had a one-man show series on the east coast. I went to spend some time with him, and after his performance on the first night, he got up and gave an impromptu speech. I think it was because I was there, and a lot of his fans knew me. He started with a very interesting approach that you might want to consider one day. For his first remarks he read a bad review from one of his performances, and he evaluated that review. Then he read a positive critique of one of his performances and evaluated that as well. Finally, he conducted Q&A with the audience.”

Lesson: This unique approach endears you to your audience.

Read More...

Look for everyday heroes.

I was invited to deliver the opening keynote speech at the Toastmasters International Convention in 2001. In this 10-segment series, you view the anatomy of a keynote presentation. 8 of 10

“All right, ladies and gentlemen, I’ve been talking to you for about, I don’t know, 44 minutes, give or take. For the first people in the front rows, what have you heard that can help you in preparing and presenting your powerful programs? Remember the rules: one sentence, learn to edit your words. Any hands, any takers? Good. I can see someone giving me the finger here. I’m sure it was several fingers, but in the dark, it’s difficult to see.”

‘Life is a series of sales situations.’

“Wonderful. You’ll notice on your speech structure sheet that it says repetitive reframes. If you want your audiences to say, ‘Every speaker on the conference quoted you afterwards,’ it’s because you reinforced your ideas in soundbites, and the key points of your speech are repetitive reframes. You repeat them. Good. What else have I said to you that might be useful?”

Read More...

Want to Write Great Speeches? 

I was invited to deliver the opening keynote speech at the Toastmasters International Convention in 2001. In this 10-segment series, you view the anatomy of a keynote presentation. 7 of 10


“I was working with a company in Petaluma that had hired me to work with all its marketing managers, helping them design the talks for company meetings. The project went very well, and I was asked, ‘Can you work with our president? He’s an engineer, not a good speaker, and he hardly ever speaks. He’s been here for 10 years, but he’s only been president for eight months. They see him as a supportive guy, but they don’t see him as presidential. Also, although business was quite good last year, sales were flat. This is a sales meeting. Many of the salespeople are new. Can you help him write a speech and make him look presidential? And you’ve got three hours.’

“Well, I like a challenge as much as anyone else. I asked the president’s secretary a few questions about his background. Remember, a key to connection is conversation. The secret of conversation is to ask questions, and the quality of the information you receive depends on the quality of your questions.

Lesson One: Bring back a key idea introduced earlier in your presentation.

“When I met the gentleman, Barry, I said, ‘I know you don’t know me, but you have to trust me. You’re not very experienced, but I’ve been doing this for a long time. I’ve been going to conferences where I’ve seen presidents and CEOs give good speeches and inspire the troops, and I’ve seen them do pitifully and demotivate everyone. Now we don’t have very much time, so you need to do exactly what I tell you. I am your new best friend.’

“My brother says, ‘I’m not surprised my sister gets paid to tell people what to do. She was a very bossy little girl.’”

Read More...

This Episode Includes a Lesson from Great Comedians

“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. Enjoy segment 6.

“Now, think about that. That was a speech called ‘Opportunity Does Not Knock Once.’

“I also maintain that taking advantage of opportunities is what has gotten me everything I wanted in my life. One of the ways I took advantage of opportunities was by asking questions.

“You are an intelligent group. I saw it when I came down here. Let’s see if I can spot the distinguished Toastmaster in the front row. Just about everyone. Okay, sir, you have gray hair. You look like an intelligent person. Based on what I just did and based on my formula, what do you think the premise of my speech might be? Remember, the title was ‘Opportunity Does Not Knock Once.’ What would you think the premise might be? ‘You can create opportunities by asking good questions.’”

Read More...

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.

Read More...

Back in 2001, at the Toastmasters International Convention, I was invited to deliver the opening keynote speech. In this 10-segment series, you will view the anatomy of a keynote presentation. Segment 4 of 10.

You will notice I have made comments on how I would give advice to the 2001 speaker, me!

“You’re Toastmasters; you like to be involved. I’ve been speaking for about 18 minutes. In the first 18 minutes, what have you learned that can help you prepare and present your programs? I’m going to walk down into the audience, and although I can only walk back four rows, it doesn’t mean that the back of the room can’t think.

“So, think about what you have learned that might be helpful to you. All comments need to be edited to less than one sentence because the most difficult thing we all must do is edit our remarks. As Jerry Seinfeld says, ‘I will spend an hour taking an eight-word sentence and edit it to five.’ In one sentence, tell me what I have already said that might be helpful to you? Do we have someone here?”

Lesson: I would now change “. . . the most difficult thing we all have to do . . .” to “. . . the most difficult task we all have to do . . .”

Read More...

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

You will notice I have made comments on how I would give advice to the 2001 speaker, me! This is segment 3 of 10.


“Just because I gave you a structure and a formula, please do not think for one moment that every speech is the same. There are many theatrical choices within this outline.

“How about four different ways you can open the speech? What I opened with was a statement: ‘It never ceases to amaze me.’

One of the most dramatic statements I ever heard was five years ago. I was speaking for the Young Presidents’ Organization. One of the other speakers, Newt Gingrich, walked out. Forget politics. It was a heck of an opening. Five years later, I remember exactly what he said without having written it down. He walked out and said, ‘If you were born today, you already owe $186,000 to pay your share of the national debt.’

Lesson: Open with a statement or interesting statistic.

Read More...

How to Prepare and Present Powerful Talks 2001

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

You will notice I have made comments about how I would give advice to the 2001 speaker, me! This is segment 2 of 10.


“Let me tell you about my next-door neighbor, Mike Powell. Mike Powell was a senior scientist at Genentech. I said, ‘Mike, I know you’re not used to talking to real people, you talk to scientists, but if you come and speak to my Continental Breakfast Club about the work you’re doing, developing an AIDS vaccine, I’ll help you with your speech. I won’t write it, but I’ll help you.’”

Lesson: Deliver the dialogue. Your characters speak, and we want to hear what they say.

“I gave him the same instructions I just gave you, and this is what he did with it.

Lesson: I said, ‘Mike, come out punching, grab the audience.’

“He walked out and said, ‘This audience is very different than it was five years ago because of the scare of AIDS.’ I said, ‘Answer the questions the audience has in their minds. Most people don’t hang out with scientists, and even if they do, they have no idea what they’re talking about. Tell them what it is like to be a scientist.’”

Lesson: Use picture words.

Read More...

Back in 2001, at the Toastmasters International Convention, I was invited to deliver the opening keynote speech. In this 10-segment series, you view the anatomy of a keynote presentation. (1 of 10)

You will notice I have made comments on how I would give advice to the 2001 speaker…who is me!

Come out punching. The purpose of your opening is to arouse interest in your subject. This opening is stating an opinion. Enjoy.

“It never ceases to amaze me that intelligent, well-educated, and ambitious people, frequently overlook developing the number one skill that is guaranteed to position them ahead of the crowd. Namely, developing the ability to stand up and speak eloquently with confidence or at the very least stagger to their feet and say anything at all.”

Lesson: speak as an audience advocate.

“As Toastmasters, we are committed to being competent communicators, and…

Lesson:  I said but. Now I recommend whenever possible, “Take the ‘but’ out of your mouth.”

Lesson:   Introducing the speech premise.

Read More...