Monthly Archives: March 2016

How I Prepare for a Keynote

Tomorrow, I’m speaking for a Hilton brand of hotels. This is their big meeting that happens only once every 2 years, so 1500 in attendance. Last time they had Malcolm Gladwell so they go big on their speaker choice and expect the best.

I’ve been speaking professionally for world class organizations twenty one years now. I’m being well for this 60 minute talk. Here’s a little on how I prep for my keynote:

1. Get the client on the phone and interview them. Learn EVERYTHING they’ll tell me about their internal initiatives, their business, their challenges and their event objectives. Everything I can about their attendees. You’ve got to know your client!

2. Get permission to call some of their attendees in advance and interview them. I call about 4. You’ve got to know your audience!

3. Choose a single talking theme that is a great fit for the client and the audience, that falls under my expertise and passion. You have to have a singular theme you want to drive home!

4. Start noodling on the topic a month in advance. This is a slow cooking creative process. You have to give your subconcious mind plenty of time to get creative!

5. Gather my best personal stories for this particular talk. Personal stories trump platitudes and book-knowledge. You have to have great personal stories for your theme!

6. Decide my 3 major action suggestions. So what strategies am I going to direct them towards? You have to offer value not just inspiration. You have to tell them what they can do better starting today or when they get back to their workplace.

7. Decide how I’m going to illuminate the problem. You have to get them thinking and feeling the problem early on in your talk, or your audience won’t care about your solution, no matter how brilliant.

8. Decide how I’m going to open in a way that quickly creates likability, openness, attention and trust. Your open is everything. You’ve got 60 seconds at most to get your audience to trust you, or you’ll be fighting an uphill battle from there on out.

9. Decide how I’m going to close so that I leave the audience on a high note with a noble challenge. It’s all for naught, the whole talk, if you blow the close.

10. Decide how I’m going to make the talk fun and interactive. Where am I going to insert activities, interactions, props or humor. This is not icing on the cake, this is mastery that ensures rapt attention throughout.

Hopes this helps you rock your next talk!


Hit me up if you have an important talk coming up or if you are seeking to become a much better speaker. I speech coach by application.

This is What Success Looks Like

This is what success looks like.

I bought this postcard while overseas. Look at it. Just a simple cafe with six people in it. One of them is looking out the window. Three of them are talking. Another sitting alone.

And one of them is writing – with pen and paper. This is the person of interest in the picture.

She is a single mother. She carries a heaviness in her heart. She is broke and lives in poverty. She is insecure. And she is fighting for her dream at a time in her life when she feels like a complete failure.

She is a single mother because her husband divorced her shortly after their child was born.

She carries a heaviness in her heart because her mother died recently, and her mother meant the world to her.

She is broke and living in real poverty because she is jobless – a fallout from her divorce. She has recently been diagnosed with clinical depression. Somedays she thinks about committing suicide.

She is insecure because she’s always been insecure about her dream. She’s always been afraid it’s unrealistic and that she’s not good enough for it.

If you look close at the picture, she has only one cup of coffee. That’s because she comes to this coffee house and only ever spends 50 cents for a cup of black coffee – she can’t afford more.

Look closer and you’ll see she’s writing with pen and paper. That’s because she doesn’t own a computer of any kind. She has to make do with pen and paper.

What’s missing from this photo is her child who is usually with her in a stroller. She has to bring her child and hope she falls asleep because she can only write when her baby is asleep.

All this, but she’s working on her dream the hard way.

Hard on the outside because she’s so broke. And hard on the inside because she’s so full of doubt, torment and sadness.

Her dream is to write a book. It’s been her dream since she was a child.

She’s living in Edinburgh, Scotland. Outside the window of this cafe, The Elephant House, she has a view of the Edinburgh Castle when she writes.

She’s working on a book for children. She got the idea for this book while riding on a train between Manchester and London. The idea is for a story of a young boy attending a school of wizardry. She has named the boy in the story, Harry Potter.

In this postcard, now you can see it all happening. Joanne Rowling is fighting for her dream… This is what success looks like. Someone believing in themselves.

Manifesto for a Great Life

When I was 26, at the start of my career, I wrote these exact words. I called it my Manifesto for a Great Life. They were meant to help me reach my dreams. Now at 49, I’m astounded at their Truth.

Like most 26 year olds, I had very little money, very little talent but very big dreams. Steve Montaño and I both had summer jobs at Electronic Arts testing video games. We still laugh about that job today.

I was living in the Western Edition of San Francisco, a poor neighbor wherecops told you to not walk at night because of all the shootings. My desk was made of milk crates and piece of plywood I found in an alley. I wanted so much to become a professional, inspirational speaker with a published book. And I dreamed of having a Jeep. And good looking business cards.

So many days and nights I was afraid I wasn’t good enough. And that my dreams might not want me back. I’ll never forget the hard fails on my first talks. HARD FAILS. I had the 7 credit cards I was using to fund. I dreaded the time of the month when bills were due.

But I also had inspiration, courage, and passion pumping through my veins, beating in chest. And one day I wrote out this “Manifesto,” that I hoped would help me to make it to the kind of life I was dreaming of.

I wrote the Manifesto out by hand and hung it on my wall where I worked.

Last night I found it again after years, and as I said at the beginning of this post, I was astounded at it’s Truth. Maybe something larger than me was helping me write these words back then. Giving me guidance.

This morning I thought to make it into a poster to share with you.
Live Brave!
Love, Patrick