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10 Ways to Make Your Leadership Presentations Powerful

Posted 6 years ago

Today’s blog entry reads like the perfect “how-to” for getting the most from your leadership presentations.  Internationally renowned public speaking guru Patricia Fripp charts this simple but deceptively effective road map for leadership speakers of all skill levels.  Whether you lead an office of sales professionals or a company of several thousand employees, Patricia Fripp’s tips are a no-nonsense means for cutting through the proverbial fat and ensuring your future presentations are both memorable and effective!

10 Ways to Make Your Leadership Presentations Powerful

by Patricia Fripp, CSP, CPAE

Some leaders are foolish enough to believe that because they are experts in their subject matter, they can get their point across effectively during presentations 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 red)
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 blue)
Clichés
“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


Patricia Fripp, CSP, CPAE has been teaching executives and engineers to speak more effectively since 1990. She is a Hall of Fame award-winning speaker, sales presentation skills trainer, and in-demand executive speech coach. Meetings and Conventions magazine named her “One of the 10 most electrifying speakers in North America.” Kiplinger’s Personal Finance wrote, “Patricia Fripp’s speaking skills training is one of the best ways to invest in you.” Through FrippVT her highly interactive virtual training platform she offers a shortcut to sales success for highly technical sales teams. Patricia is trusted by clients such as Microsoft, ADP, Visa, Genentech, Wounded Warrior Project, and the American Payroll Association. Contact Patricia Fripp: [email protected] ↔ (415) 753-6556