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    12 Ways to Become a Speaking Star:
    What Hollywood Can Teach You about Great Presentation Skills

    SUMMARY:
    Every keynote speaker, business presenter, and sales professional can become a speaking star. How? By incorporating 12 basic Hollywood principles into their presentations. These include how to choose a structure, come up with great stories, craft a flavor scene, write vivid dialogue, use scene changes, and go out with a bang. Audiences remember great films and great speeches for the same reasons. Put the full power of Hollywood techniques behind your presentations.

    What makes a good Hollywood movie? Exactly the same principles that make a great keynote speech, executive presentation, or important business conversation.

    Why? Imagine that you have unlimited resources to create a speech that will make you the hottest commodity on the market, inspire your colleagues, or motivate your staff. Where would you go to get the best, highestpriced writers and directors in the world?

    Hollywood!

    The good news is that you probably don’t need unlimited resources to hire an Oscar winning writer and director. Just learn to adapt basic Hollywood techniques to increase the impact of your keynote speeches, business presentations, and persuasive sales conversations.

    1. Embrace the Creative Process

    Our first step is to look at the creative process. Comedian George Carlin said, “Creating a great speech or comedy routine is more like going on a field trip than working in a laboratory.” He meant that the creative process isn’t neat and tidy. It’s rambling and messy. To create your masterpiece of a presentation, get comfortable with exploring and experimenting. Forget the PowerPoint. That’s tidy. With a yellow pad, flip chart, or whiteboard, start by listing or mind mapping what content could go in your presentation. You want stories, examples, quotes, statistics, your corporate message, and client successes. Then take the results of the “field trip” into the “laboratory.” That’s when you organize your presentation into a conversational and logical structure. One of the biggest mistakes my executive clients and sales teams make is to have someone else create the PowerPoint before they craft their speech or presentation.

    “If you had just one sentence rather than forty-five minutes, what would you say?” That’s what I ask my executive coaching clients. Their reply often becomes their opening line. A particularly compelling one is:

    “Every [describe who is the audience] can [name the subject of your talk].”

    You’ve got their attention and focused them on your topic. But there are dozens of others.

    One of my favorite clients, Bernard, answered, “This is a brand new company.” “Then write this down,” I told him. “Your opening line is, ‘Welcome to a brand new company.’”

    Next we needed to add the stories, characters, and dialogue, plus the “So what?” that would make a memorable and persuasive speech. So I asked Bernard a series of questions:

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    Who decided on this corporate direction, you or someone else?
    In the Board meeting, who said what to whom?
    At what age did your realize the importance of strategy?
    How do you explain corporate citizenship to your children?
    What do you want to challenge your sales professionals to do?
    What can they expect from you?
    What will be better in their lives and careers?
    How will this strategy position your company in the industry?

    And, most important:

    What do you want to be different after your presentation?

    My approach is to ask questions that lead the presenters to tell me their stories and experiences. It may take a little digging, but invariably we come up with compelling material. Most of these clients ask, “Does the audience really what to hear these stories?” YES! It is essential that your audience sees the person behind the position. We are more likely to be motivated when we can see the life lessons beyond the corporate message.

    2. Choose a Structure

    You don’t have to decide on your structure before you begin assembling your material. However, it will probably end up falling into one of these familiar Hollywood formats: start at the beginning, start in the middle, or start at the end.

    Start at the beginning. This is the age-old “Once upon a time” technique, just like in every child’s nursery story. It works for children, movies, and executive presentations. We learn who our story is about, and we find a way to emotionally bond. Perhaps we relate, or are curious, or just interested to know what will happen next. To keep the audience interested, we have to develop characters to drive the story forward. They are on a quest or hero’s journey that is told in chronological order. This is the oldest storytelling technique known to mankind. Start at the beginning and tell your story or talk about your experience. Just as in many movies, you introduce the characters, describe the situation, and then keep going. The event may have lasted a few minutes or a generation, but it is related in the order it happened.

    Start in the middle. The Hollywood name for this is “In medias res,” Latin for “in the middle of things.” You start right in the middle of the action, then go back to show how this happened. Rambo II opens with Sylvester Stallone about to fight—in a monastery! Who and why? You’re eager to know. Sunset Boulevard starts with a dead body in a swimming pool. What happened? The dead body then tells us how he got there and what happened afterwards. Both these films turn into “flashbacks,” revealing what led up to this point, before showing us what happened next.

    My friend, Scott Halford, was going to make a speech about his career. “When I was a boy,” he told me, “I was always interested in films. My parents encouraged me, and I went to screen school, and I became a documentary filmmaker.” So far, this is a once upon a time tale. But would audiences immediately relate to this curriculum vita version of his life? Then he told me something that made me sit up in my chair. “We had an interesting assignment,” he said, “where we went into death row. I actually spent a week in solitary confinement and ended up sitting in the electric chair.”

    “Patricia, how would you tell this story?” he asked when he’d finished describing his career.

  • About the Author

    Patricia Fripp, CSP, CPAE is an award-winning speaker, author, sales trainer and in-demand speech coach. Her speech-coaching clients include corporate leaders, celebrity speakers, well-known sports and media personalities, ministers and sales teams. Meetings and Conventions magazine named her "One of the 10 most electrifying speakers in North America." She delivers high-energy, high-content, and dramatically memorable presentations. Steven Covey's Executive Excellence magazine named her "One of the top 50 consultants, trainers, speakers, authors and professors who cover the Seven Dimensions of Excellence." Kiplinger's Personal Finance November 2002 issue claimed, "Patricia Fripp's speaking skills class is the sixth best investment to make with $1,000. The over 4,000-member National Speakers Association elected her the first female President in 1984. She has won or been awarded every designation given by NSA, including the Hall of Fame and the Cavett Award, the highest honor and considered the Oscar of the speaking world.

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12 Ways to Become a Speaking Star

Every keynote speaker, business presenter, and sales professional can become a speaking star. How? By incorporating 12 basic Hollywood principles into their presentations. These include how to choose a structure, come up with great stories, craft a flavor scene, write vivid dialogue, use scene changes, and go out with a bang. Audiences remember great films and great speeches for the same reasons. Put the full power of Hollywood techniques behind your presentations.

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