You’re sitting at your computer, staring at the blank screen. Your article is due tomorrow, and while you have an idea of what you’d like to say, you just don’t know where to begin. You become increasingly stressed. The words you type go nowhere. You get up for another cup of coffee, convinced that it’s caffeine that will stimulate your neurons. Still nothing. Perhaps your blood sugar level is dipping. A pint of Ben and Jerry’s will fix that. Nothing. You need to just clear your head so you take the dog for a walk down the street. You get back to your computer. And there it is. The cursor, at the top of the blank page, mocking you every time it blinks.
At a recent District Toastmasters Conference, I had the pleasure of attending an educational session taught by comedian and speaker, Darren LaCroix. The topic was “Create a Keynote: How to Write a Speech Step-by-Step.” I listened with interest as Darren took us through the motions and quickly realized the writing model he was using went well beyond speeches. It was an all-purpose model that could be used in many areas of writing.
He used a model developed by Patricia Fripp. The power in “The Fripp Speech Model™” is in its simplicity. I often have students who struggle to get their words on paper. I’ve shared traditional writing models with them in the past, only to watch them struggle further. Many of them know what to say, they just don’t know how to get it out in a logical form. They spend hour after hour writing, deleting, and moving text around. Some of them freeze from the start, not even knowing where to begin.
The Fripp Speech Model addresses both of these issues with five steps:
- Clarify your premise.
- Form your foundational phrase.
- Create your closing.
- Create your opening.
- Prove your premise.
What makes it especially easy is that once you write out each step, it’s just a matter of tying them all together. LaCroix illustrated each of these points through his own speaking journey. He shared how powerful stories are in capturing your audience. He also gave us a couple of his own strong foundational phrases: “What do I want my audience to do, think, or feel?” “Make your last words linger.” “Get your audience to picture themselves in the story.”
The model is not unlike many models I learned in my journalism classes, but for me it was a fresh perspective I could share with my students when it seemed like nothing else would work. It’s truly an all-purpose model, one that I’ve even used in writing this blog post.
If you struggle to get the words out, give Fripp’s model a try. The simplicity and direction will guide you into an effective and impactful article.