Digital-First Leadership

Ep.36– Deliver Unforgettable Presentations with Patricia Fripp

June 15, 2023 Richard Bliss Episode 36
Digital-First Leadership
Ep.36– Deliver Unforgettable Presentations with Patricia Fripp
Show Notes Transcript

In this episode, Richard Bliss is joined by Patricia Fripp. Patricia, the author of “Deliver Unforgettable Presentations,” specializes in turning brilliant executives, engineers, and experts in all fields into corporate rock stars.

As Patricia says in the interview, “The most important part is building your confidence that you are a charismatic speaker. You cannot expect to be good at any skill that you haven't focused attention on. And if anybody says, "I'm not a good speaker," I say, No, that isn't true. You are an untrained speaker. We are all untrained until we learn what we have to know. Don't focus on what you can't do. Focus on the magnificent speaker we are uncovering.”

Richard Bliss  at

Guest: Patricia Fripp at

Podcast Manager: Kimberly Smith

Speaker A [00:00:00]:

Welcome to Digital-First Leadership. The podcast that focuses on helping leaders and teams understand to master the language of social media in today's digital-first world.

Richard Bliss [00:00:15]:

Welcome to Digital-First Leadership. I'm your host, Richard Bliss. And in this episode, I'm joined by a very good friend of mine, Patricia Fripp. Patricia, thanks for joining me. 

Patricia Fripp:

My pleasure 

Richard Bliss:

Well, you and I, we say good friends, but we haven't known each other, I guess, that long. But in that short amount of time, it has been an enjoyable experience, I think, for both of us. I got to meet you in Phoenix at the beginning of 2023, and you are such an energetic present person that I just thought, what you have to say and teach needs to be on my show for my audience. And so thanks for being here.

Patricia Fripp [00:00:51]:

Well, I would like to think that you quote me as often as I quote you.

Richard Bliss [00:00:56]:

I appreciate that. Here's one of the things. So, One of the things that that drew me to you is that you you work with executives in Silicon Valley, and you coach them on primarily presentation skills and and how to do that. And one of the things that came across as I as I list as a rigid book, I've got it here in front of me, deliver unforgettable presentations, As I read your book, it's full of all kinds of sticky notes. One of the things I asked myself was you have to be able to see on a regular occasion, things that executives or anyone is doing in their presentation that just kinda makes you stop and pause and say, oh, stop doing that. Here here's this small change you could do. What are some of those what are some of the things that you're excuse me. As you're watching, What do you see these executives doing that causes them to possibly lose that impact that they were looking to have?

Patricia Fripp [00:01:49]:

Well, as you know, my specialty is taking brilliant engineers and turning them into corporate rock stars. and many brilliant individuals have gone through their careers, and they've never to have a major reason to speak that much. And as one of my recent clients, they just got 40 million dollars worth of funding, and they realized they had to up his public persona and his presentations. So one The most important part is building their confidence and many of my clients say, oh, but you're my number one fan, and that is I want them to know. I want them to be as successful as as they want to be. Probably even more so. So one, it's building the confidence that they are a charismatic speaker.

Richard Bliss [00:02:51]:

Can I can I pause right there? What do you think holds them back from feeling that way?

Patricia Fripp [00:02:57]:

Well, they You cannot expect to be good at any skill that you haven't focused attention on. And if you have spent your entire career being a brilliant engineer and building from an idea this magnificent company, your communications have been internal. Now we're ready to launch for the world so you expand your message, and the person that you are has suddenly, in certain ways, have to be larger than life, yet they're modest brilliant engineers. So one, I build their confidence, and I let them know, yeah, I am your fan and you are magnificent. And they are. They just don't realize they're magnificent speakers yet. And if anybody says, oh, I'm not a good speaker. I say, no. That isn't true. you are an untrained speaker.

Richard Bliss [00:03:51]:

Oh, I like that. Oh, I like…

Patricia Fripp:

You are an untrained speaker. We are all untrained until we learn what we have to know.

Richard Bliss:


Patricia Fripp:

And then so work when I realized their magnificent don't focus on what you can't do. Focus on the magnificent speaker we are uncovering. Then Your message is never about you. It's about the audience. A very common way is to say, hi. I am, and I'm gonna talk about it. And I say no. And even in circumstances when you do need to introduce yourself, You never introduce yourself first. You the purpose of your opening words is to arouse interest in the what follows. And so one, your messages are what's about the audience. So how how is what you're saying of interest to them? And how do you make them interested in that? And and we work on you focused learning.

Richard Bliss:

As you're speaking, I'm I'm silent. Normally, I wouldn't be silent, but I'm silent because I'm realizing, oh, so I go on stage -- How am I presenting myself? I'm running through my head because, you know, sometimes I don't consider myself a professional speaker, but then I'm recognizing, no. I get up in front of people. And how do you It's like, oh, it's it's not once upon a time, right, which oftentimes I see people do here. Let me tell you a little bit about my background. No. It's Here, here's that aspirational idea that's going to make you sit up in your chair lean forward and say, he's going to about to he's about to or he or she is about to change my life.

Patricia Fripp [00:05:30]:

Good. Exactly. So your the opening arises interest in the subject. Because in most circumstances, you’re either introduced or people have a reason to be there. And even if they just happen to be there for whatever reason they signed up for your webinar, they were They were brought to this event or they are just tuned in to your video, your 2 minute video. Then you need to grab the and let them know, wow. And part of my personal discipline, I’ve taken at least 10 different screenwriting classes, not that I have any talent or interest in being a screenwriter, but Hollywood knows how to tell a good story. And many teachers say the opening of a movie is called the Flavor Scene. And how do you open your presentation sets the flavor It's like you go to a movie. And in the opening scene, you will vote. You speak, oh, this is gonna be good. This is gonna be good. And that's the very least, I want your audience to tune in and and think, wow. This is gonna be worth 2 minutes of my time. 

Richard Bliss [00:06:30]:

You know, that's that flavor scene that you're talking about, that's not as we look at the movies from the sixties or the seventies, we see that missing in those old movies. Right? The the music comes up, the big title comes up, who the stars are. But I can remember, and I'm trying to remember what the first movie was the cold open, where the movie just started, and you're like, woah. What is this? Right? The lights go down, and the movie just started and you're in the middle of the scene or the picture and you're drawn in, and then they cut away to whatever might be happening. That from a that's excellent point from the movie side. Okay. So we got 1 number 1.

Patricia Fripp [00:07:15]:

The Flavor Scene. Then secondly, telling stories about themselves. And we all have, you know, our background story. But for example, I was coaching this brilliant engineer and They brought me in, and so what is the purpose of this sales meeting that you have 200 and a 100 1500 people, salespeople? and they had just acquired their competition. So 40% of the people in this audience had not chosen to work for the company And the message was you're at the right company, at the right time, our strategy is sound, and you got your future is bright. That was the message of the whole conference. And as I am talking, I just met this gentleman, flown in from France, Now how do you do? I mean, a little and we just diced immediately asked him questions. And then He's talking about the strategy and I said Bernard, when was the first time you realized the importance of strategy? He said it was when I was a fourteen year old ball boy before the French open. because people came in and To see the French open, they didn't realize they were gonna be watching a match between the ball boys first. And I was playing a against my best friend, and we were equally matched in talent and experience except. His sister was the ball boy. And she was flowing the balls in a way to sabotage my game, so that's Patricia, he said, is when I realized the importance of strategy when you're equally matched with your competition and at a disadvantage. My desire. Open that. And every executive Richard says, do they wanna hear these stories? And I say yes. One, they will, everybody respects a position. He's the president. He's the CEO. He's the national sales manager. However, when they see the person behind the position they will fight in the streets for a person, especially, then in this case, I said the subtext is, wow, our strategy has to be signed because our president has been strutting strategy since he was fourteen years old. So one and my job, Richard. What I do is I ask people questions. I get their words. I polish them up and pop them back in the mouths and say, say it back. And I help them understand why what I'm suggesting works because you you have many circumstances. You can't call the speech coach. You have to know the principles. And that, again, builds their confidence this is gonna work why. And then, not only do you get them to tell a story, you get them to understand the ingredients that make a story superb. Stories are about people. And you have characters, and we want to hear them speak. So we have dialogue, and, of course, is a point for the story. So another executive as I was working with He was talking by corporate Citizenship. Well, obviously, he was passionate about this subject. And I do not tell these brilliant people that I work with. I think you get a bit boring here. So instead, I asked him a question. I said, how do you explain corporate citizenship to your children? And he said it was the day after Christmas, and I sat both my children down. And I said you are you are lucky children. You have generous parents and even more generous grandparents. And perhaps you could like to take one egift certificate to one of your presents, give them back to us we'll take the money and and we'll donate it to children who aren't lucky enough to have homes. Any said I was so proud of my fourteen year old son. He said, Dad, how much do I give? because I could give all of my pocket money and all of my savings and all my Christmas presents, and it wouldn't be enough to make a difference. My executive said, oh, you never give it all. You just give enough that it hurts a little. Now Richard, that story takes less than 1 minute to tell. So, don't tell me you don't have time to tell stories in your dinner in his speech. 



Patricia Fripp:

And if you had it transcribed, it's nearly all it would have quotation marks around. That is delivering the dialogue not reporting on the dialogue and I promise you every time I every time I would go to write a check or fill in a contribution for charity support, I always think of that story and at another hundred bucks.

Richard Bliss [00:12:31]:


Patricia Fripp:

Because it just has to hurt a little. 

Richard Bliss:

It just has to hurt a little. I think about the stories, Patricia, that I tell sometimes. Now you have me thinking about there's two stories that regularly come up when I stand in front of an audience, and our our our our good friend Skip introduced me this week to his team in one of the he told 2 of my stories. The one the one was I was fired from my job by my mother. That was one. That always gets and then he said the other one was, I was fired by a company and they gave my job to my wife.

Patricia Fripp [00:13:06]:

Wife. Yes. But you see, that is what people remember. 

Richard Bliss:


Patricia Fripp:

And ideally, they will remember what points you were making when you told the story. 

Richard Bliss:


Patricia Fripp:

Usuall what executives and engineers and anybody who speaks has to remember. When you walk out of the ballroom or if they turn off the Zoom and someone says, oh, what did the speaker say? They're gonna say he said this, this, and this, and told a great story about, and can you believe this guy got fired by, and then yeah. 

Richard Bliss [00:13:42]:

Then his wife got his job. And then I always have to say, ex-wife, and then that story just goes in I don't even have to go into any more detail, do I?

Patricia Fripp:


Richard Bliss:

And the second story, as you know, I spoke at the NSA Thrive Conference. And Tim Guard Yeah. The MC introduced me with a story that if you google my name, Richard Bliss, San Diego from Olympia Washington, There's the first entry is a Wikipedia entry Richard Bliss from Olympia, Washington, living in San Diego, in tech, was arrested as a spy in Russia. And I have to tell people that it's a true story. And this is why I'm so passionate about teaching you to take control of your online identity because if you don't, circumstances or somebody else will. So I I hear what you're saying and realize, oh, my gosh. That is why that has been so successful. Patricia, before we run out of time, I have a question for you. Do you remember the first speech or presentation you gave?

Patricia Fripp [00:14:42]:

Yes. It was in 1976 to a club I now belong to called the Golden Gate Breakfast Club. Well, it was the first speech outside of the hair styling industry. So I was San Francisco's number one men's hairstylist, and I was traveling nationwide. And because I was going through the Dale County courses and loved them and And one of my clients invited me, oh, well, if you're speaking to hairstylist, come speak to my my breakfast club. and that was the first talk I delivered. And then and I have Never used notes. Now I have notes, but they're in my head -- Sure. -- because Dale Carnegie taught you a way to stack your ideas and remember them. And after my first speech, I realized people who heard me speak came into my salon. And this was the least way I could least expensive way and most fun way I could promote my business. And so not only did I speak to that club multiple times, I became their first woman member in -- 

Richard Bliss:

Oh, my. 

Patricia Fripp:

-- 2000. So I I vividly remember that first one. I've stied of Hayes Stanley.

Richard Bliss [00:16:00]:

I remember mine. It was in 1976. I was a young man, and I was asked beforehand, a week or 2 beforehand, to give a short presentation in my church in front of the entire congregation. to stand up behind the pulpit as a young man and deliver a small, we'll call it a sermon. And I can remember that Sunday showing up to church, them coming up to me and say, okay. You're gonna give the presentation. And I was a teenager. And what's a teenager say almost every time when they were giving an assignment weeks in advance, and now the day of delivery there, they say, oh I forgot. And so I thought that was my out. Oh, I forgot. Sorry, I can't do it. And they looked at me and said, no, You're still going up on stage. And I can remember it so clearly to this day. Standing up on stage, saying a few words riffing, right, just making it up, I hadn't prepped, and then sitting down and telling myself I will never, in my life, ever be caught in that situation again. Right? And it was the very first presentation. It stays with me, and so to this day, I have been in a meeting, and somebody said, oh, our regular speaker isn't here, so I'll just kinda go and I've raised my hand from the back and said, I have a presentation prepared. I will go ahead and deliver it. And then people turn around like, What? Because never again will I step in front of an audience, or even be unprepared. And so that was my first speech, not having something to say and knowing what you say, knowing your audience, even though I was a young man, it was a lesson that stayed with me.

Patricia Fripp [00:17:53]:

And I encourage my clients to be perpetually prepared because as you know, our clients For every formal presentation they have, they have probably 20 informal unplanned. So if I may, here's a formula. Now it works if you're prepared, but it also works if you're not prepared. Imagine you are in a team meeting. And the leader says, oh, Richard. I I didn't realize you're gonna be here. We're 10 minutes ahead of schedule. Why you just come up the front of the room or zack to a a Zoom spot –

Richard Bliss:


Patricia Fripp:

-- and give us an update. and this is the most important message I can give in. You always have to have something to say while you're thinking about what you're going to say. This is what you say: Thank you for the opportunity to update you on our latest project. Then put this presentation into context As you will remember, in January, our leadership challenges to... In May, we updated our leadership. This has happened, and now we are happy to report that. Our biggest challenge has been, our greatest success has been, what help we would like from you is, and on behalf of your dedicated eight-person marketing team. Thank you for the opportunity and remember… dut dut dut.

Richard Bliss [00:19:40]:

What a nice little template just to Mad Libs fill in the blanks.

Patricia Fripp [00:19:46]:

Yes. And when people are nervous, I always suggest When you see the agenda of the meeting, zoom or in person, prepare remarks that you could give on any offer on any of the topics. And it's better to get in the habit of preparing and not using it. And then when the opportunity appears, you you're prepared. 

Richard Bliss [00:20:15]:

Absolutely. Absolutely. Patricia, this has been fantastic. And what a great way to wrap up, giving everybody that that little piece of advice or a a template to follow because absolutely every almost every single time that that happens. You stand up, and then you hear some And then, no, you've – excellent template. I'm gonna take that. We're gonna put that in some of the show notes so that people can actually see that written Patricia, thank you for taking the time to join us.

Patricia Fripp [00:20:43]:

Wonderful. And if people, please remember me, Fripp. but much more important than remembering me. Remember what Fripp stands for. Frequently Reinforce Ideas that are Productive and Profitable. f r i p

Richard Bliss [00:21:06]:

Yep. Go ahead. Need Fripp. Need Fripp. When it comes to speaking, you need Fripp. f r i p p dot com. Patricia, thank you again. You've been listening to Digital-First Leadership podcast, my guest has been Patricia Fripp, and we've been talking about that preparation as a speaker, as a presenter, as an executive, and some of the little skills that you can use to make yourself prepared. Hopefully, you found something that you can use on your next opportunity standing in front of an audience. I know I have, It's always great to have somebody like Patricia on the show. Thanks for listening. Take care.

Speaker A [00:21:45]:

You've been listening to Digital-First Leadership the podcast where you learn to leverage and build your expertise on digital platforms. For more valuable tips on mastering the language of social media, Subscribe to our newsletter at If you'd like to stay in touch, feel free to add Richard on LinkedIn and join the conversation.