In this episode, Barbara and Pat Quinn discuss:  

  • The big thing that most people miss when telling their story.
  • The two types of presentations that do not attract clients.
  • Why recording the audience is more important than recording the stage.


Key Takeaways:  

  • Structuring your story means what you put in the beginning, middle and end. Two messages with the same content structured differently is an entirely different story.
  • Each presentation’s framework needs to be structured to get a response from the audience, not of accolades but authentic engagement.  
  • You need to know who your audience is and the problem you are solving for them before writing your signature presentation.  


“I’m such a believer that your signature presentation can be the fastest and best tool that you have to market your business.” —  Pat Quinn


005 Pat Quinn- The Signature Presentation

Barbara Hales:             We have the great fortune to have Pat Quinn with us today. Pat Quinn has been entertaining, inspiring, and educating audiences for over 30 years. As a former professional magician, Mr. Quinn learned the art of commanding a stage early in his career. He has consulted with professional speakers, pastors, and business leaders to help them improve their presenting skills and more effectively deliver their messages. Pat, I know you believe that speaking is the fastest way to grow your business or practice. Each person’s story is where one can create powerful connections, and the most effective way to do this is through a high converting signature talk. So how do you bring out the best story in professionals that consult with you and how do you get them to craft it most effectively?

Pat Quinn:                   Well, thanks for having me on today. I love being on this because I’m such a believer that your signature presentation can be the fastest and best tool that you have to market your business. I think when you’re thinking about telling your story, people miss one big thing, and the one big thing that they miss is structure. Structure in how you tell your story. Structure means what do I put in the beginning? What do I put in the middle, what do I put in the end? Structure makes all the difference in the world. We can have two different speakers telling pretty much the same story but in a different order with the parts mixed up, with the stuff that should be in the middle, in the beginning and the stuff that should be in the beginning and the end, and they’ll get completely different results.

I didn’t get my start as a professional speaker. I actually got my start as a professional magician and worked magic for 10 years. After that I thought I should probably get a real job, so I became a public school teacher. I taught high school math for 12 years. During that time, I picked up an advanced degree in how adults learn, and so I really bring two things to the table when I’m helping someone craft their story. The first is a little bit of stagecraft from my years of doing magic, but the second is a real understanding of how adults learn. What happens inside the brain as an adult. Here’s your story, how they receive it, what they think about, how they process it, how they store it, how they remember it.

There are specific things that you can do to make the audience view it differently. Our goal when we work with speakers is not that they would get a standing ovation, although many of them do. Our goal when we work with speakers is not that people would come up to them afterwards and say, “Wow, you’re a really good speaker,” although oftentimes they do. Our goal is that the audience would want to engage with you after the presentation, that the audience wants to go deeper with you, work with you, become a client of yours. That is why we craft our presentations, our stories from the very beginning with that goal in mind. We’re hyper-focused on the audience.

The first thing you can do to improve any presentation that you give is to turn your camera around and stop filming yourself. Instead, film the audience. You will learn more by watching the audience for five minutes than you would learn watching hours of video of yourself. You’ll learn the best parts of your presentation and the worst parts, the most engaging parts, and the parts that don’t engage the audience. And so we always film the audience when our speakers are speaking.

I’ve been fortunate over the last 10 years to work with some of the best speakers in the world, New York Times best-selling authors, two different astronauts, six different Olympians, a number of pastors that you see on television every single Sunday. But most of the people that I work with are not professional speakers. Most of the people that I work with are business owners just like you who want to grow their business and attract new clients through speaking, and I believe speaking is the fastest way to do that.

Barbara Hales:             Well, Pat, you believe that everyone has a message that impacts lives and is meant to be heard, to promote health, succeed in business, and win in life. Once they’ve created the signature talk, how do you help them promote it?

Pat Quinn:                   Once you have a signature talk in place, then the question is, what is the right stage for it? Where is the right place to put it? The answer to that is based on the answer to two questions. Question number one, and you need clarity on these two questions even before you begin writing your signature presentation. The first question is, who is your target audience? By the way, the right answer to that question is not every living human being in the world. You might think that’s a great business. That’s actually not a very good business. We want your target audience to be much more narrowed down than that. Who is your target audience?

And the second question is, what problem do you solve for them? Now, the problem when I ask what problem do you solve for the audience to most speakers or business owners is that they don’t give me a problem. They give me a solution. I’ll be talking to someone and say, “What problem do you solve for the audience?” And they’ll say, “Healthy eating.” And I’ll say, “Healthy eating isn’t a problem. What problem do you solve?” I’ll be talking to somebody who speaks to entrepreneurs and say, “What problem do you solve for your audience?” And they’ll say, “Business growth.” And I’ll say, “Business growth is not a problem. Business growth is actually a good thing. What is the problem that you solve?”

If you don’t have clarity on that, and here’s the key, you have to state the problem in the language of the consumer, not the language of the experts. We’re experts. We live in a world of experts. We speak expert language all the time when we’re talking to each other. But when we’re presenting to prospects or possible clients, you have to use the language of the consumer. In the first half of your presentation, if you use any language that is expert language, language that the common prospect wouldn’t use in their day-to-day life, you’re doing it wrong and the number of engagements after the presentation is going to go down.

Here’s the question I always ask. The night before somebody met the night before one of your prospects or possible clients met, what were they worried about? What were they laying awake, not sleeping, thinking about? What were they complaining to their girlfriends about at Starbucks? That’s the language that you want to use. And so, if you have clarity on those two questions, who is your audience and what is the problem that I solve for them, then you’re ready to go out and find the perfect stage. We call a dream stage any stage where over half the audience or three quarters of the audience can buy whatever it is you’re selling. They’re in your target audience and they have the problem that you’re trying to solve.

When you identify who your target audience is, the number one question that you should ask is where do they gather? Where do they gather in person and where do they gather online? And so, if you say, “My target audience is young moms,” where do they gather? Where do the young moms get together? They get together in organizations such as Mothers of Preschoolers. They get together if they have school-aged children at the elementary school. They get together at preschools. They come to conferences for moms. They gather in person all over the place. And then where do they gather online? What Facebook groups do they all belong to? What gurus do they all follow? What webinars do they watch? What podcasts do they listen to?

Because if you can figure out where they gather, you can go get on those stages. You can go to those live events, those conferences, those seminars, those workshops, those meetings and ask to be a speaker. And if you can figure out where they gather online, you can find the gurus that they’re following and joint present with them or co-present with them. You can find the podcasts that they’re listening to and be interviewed on them. You can find the webinars, the summits, the Facebook Lives that they’re … the Facebook groups that they belong to and go on Facebook Live and those groups.

And so, you have all these ways to get in front of the right audience, but it all starts with the question, who is my audience and where do they gather? Without clarity on that question, your business is always going to be hit and miss. You’re just got to be looking for customers one at a time instead of systematically finding large groups of them that already gather and putting yourself in those groups.

Once you get in front of the ideal group, your dream stage, as we like to say, there are four parts to a great presentation. The first part of a great presentation is your opening heart sequence or your opening heart story. The purpose of this is to teach the audience about you, not about your content, not about the problem that you solve, not about your business, not about your offerings. They have to fall in love with you first before they’re going to listen to any of that. That’s the opening heart story.

You have three goals in the first five minutes that you’re in front of any audience, whether it’s audience of one or an audience of 1000. In the first five minutes, you need to be ordinary, extraordinary, and show me your why. Ordinary means I’m just like you. I worry about what you worry about. I struggle with what you struggle with. Extraordinary means I’ve figured it out. I’ve solved this problem. And showing your why means I’m not just in this for money. There’s a passion behind this. There’s a reason behind this. I’m on a mission.

I believe the fastest and easiest way to be ordinary, extraordinary, and show your why in the first five minutes of any presentation is through episodic storytelling. Episodic storytelling is to take the audience into a room where they can see what you see, hear what you hear, feel what you feel, and from a first-person standpoint take them into that room and tell them about that experience. I think that is more effective than reading your resume. I think it’s more effective than telling your story of a third-party narrator. Take them into a room.

One of the people we coach is LaVonna Roth, and LaVonna used to start her presentation by talking about that she grew up very poor. They didn’t have a lot of money. When she came to our two-day workshop in Milwaukee, we changed the sound of her presentation. When LaVonna was 14 years old, their family got evicted from their apartment and a friend said, “You can come live with us.” When they got to the friend’s house, the friend said, “Well, we don’t actually have a bedroom for you to sleep in, but we do have an abandoned chicken coop attached to our garage. You’re welcome to sleep in there.” And as a 14-year-old girl, LaVonna walks the audience into that abandoned chicken coop and you can see what she sees, you can hear what she hears, you can smell what she smells. And I’ve got to tell you I’ve watched her give this presentation a half dozen times live, and when she tells this story, you could hear a pin drop in the room and that audience will go anywhere with her. Most certainly they’ll listen to the rest of her presentation, but more importantly, they want to engage with her after the presentation. That’s the key.

Our goal is not that they want to come up and talk to you or our goal is not that they just want to come up and say, Great job.” Our goal is that they will sign up, join up, come to an appointment, come to your free consultation, take the free call. Our goal is that they will engage with you after the presentation, and everything that we design in our workshops, we insert 15 separate things that are research proven. These are not our opinions. If you want an opinion, go ask your sister. These are research-validated techniques from the research of Robert Cialdini, Daniel Pink, Scott Adams, Neil Strauss, proven to work to get the audience to want to engage with you after the presentation. So that’s your opening heart sequence.

Second thing you want to do is teach them something new and solve a problem for them. We call this the head or content section of your presentation where you actually solve a problem for the audience, where you take them somewhere and solve a problem. There’s two types of presentations that don’t attract customers. The first type of presentation talks all about the problem. If you’re halfway through your presentation and you’re still talking about the problem, we have a problem. The other type of presentation that doesn’t get new customers is a presentation that is all Siri, that it’s just a bunch of information.

The goal during the head or content section of your presentation is to actually solve a problem for the audience. You might be saying, “Well, Pat, if I actually solve a problem for the audience, why would they pay me?” The real question is if you don’t solve a problem for the audience, why would they pay you? I don’t believe in tease, I don’t believe in bait and switch and I don’t believe saying there is a solution and you have to pay me to get the solution is a good way to do business, and I know it’s not attractive to customers.

Instead, with the time that you have in front of them, whether it’s five minutes or 50 minutes, solve real problems for them. Give them real solutions.

Which brings us to the third section of your presentation, which is the call to action. The call to action is when you actually tell them what you want them to do next. If that’s a free initial consultation, if it’s a first appointment, if it’s the sign up for something else, now is when you tell them what it is and how they would do it. But let me tell you this. If this is the first time they’re hearing about it, you’ve waited way too long. That cake is already baked, as my mom would say. There’s nothing you can do in the last 10 minutes of your presentation that’ll make up for what you didn’t do in the first 40 minutes of your presentation.

So instead, what I want you to do with the content section of your presentation is to embed examples of what it looks like to engage with you further. Every story, every case study, every example that you give when teaching your content should include a person who’s gone through the process, the engagement that you’re asking the audience to do. So let’s say, for instance, you want people to sign up for an initial consultation. People who you use as examples in your content should be people who were at an event just like this, and at the end of it they signed up for an initial consultation. Or if you’re on a webinar, people in your examples, people in your case studies, people in your stories should be people who were on a webinar and at the end of the webinar signed up for an initial consultation.

You’re teaching the audience the customer journey. You’re allowing them to rehearse it in their heads and you’re doing it at the right part of your presentation. The human brain is good at one thing. Categorizing information. We can tell the difference between a story and content. We don’t listen to the details of the story. We just get the main point, but content we listen to carefully. We take notes. We trust the speaker. The one thing the human brain can categorize as well as anything else is sales, and once you start to ask for the sale, the human brain switches. We listen to content with a believing mind, a trusting mind, a mind that take notes. We listen to sales with a skeptical mind. We raise our own objections. We don’t always trust. The more you can talk about how to engage with you before you get to your offer at the end, the more believing, trusting, and paying attention the audience is going to be. That will shorten your call to action. It will feel very short because by the time you get there, the audience will already know what it is that you do. They’ll already know how long it lasts. They’ll already know the results of it.

All you have to do is tell them how to sign up for it, which brings us to the fourth and final part of any great presentation, and that is your closing heart story. You don’t want to finish with tactically telling them how to sign up. The reason for that is because there’s two types of decision makers in any room. There’s tactical decision makers and emotional decision makers. Most people sell the way that they make decisions. I can tell if a speaker is a tactical decision maker very quickly when I watch them speak because when they make the offer, it’s tactical, tactical, tactical. It’s a 60-minute appointment. You sign up there on Tuesdays and Thursdays in the afternoon. You pay with a credit card. Tactics, tactics, tactics, tactics, and the emotional audience is left with nothing to buy.

I also know if I’m watching an emotional decision maker speak because all they do is talk about the emotions of what they’re doing. It’s going to feel great. And the audience is sitting there thinking, “What is it?” It really doesn’t matter. It’s going to feel great. The person who closes the most sales, the person who has the fastest growing business, the person who has the most audience engagements after the presentation is the speaker who can do both, who can tactically tell me what it is but then at the end emotionally tell me what it will feel like.

Let me give you a great tip to do that. Start three sentences in a row with the words, “Picture a day.” Picture a day when you don’t have aches and pains in the morning, but you wake up feeling great. Picture a day when you don’t have to tell your grandkids that, “I can’t play with you right now. I don’t feel well,” but you can always join in and their games. Picture a day when you had the freedom to move like you want to move, do what you want to do, feel how you want to feel. Together, we can get for that day. That’s a technique called picture a day or picturing past the sale where you help the audience emotionally connect to what it is that you’re selling, what it is that you’re doing, and you should pair it with your tactical close.

So, when you put the four parts together, it’s an opening heart sequence to the teachers about you, a head content section that solves a problem, a tactical call to action, and an emotional heart story at the end. When you do all four of those parts, whether you have five minutes or 50 minutes to speak, you are going to maximize the percentage of the audience that wants to, that needs to engage with you after the presentation.

Barbara Hales:             Pat, when somebody comes to you as a client, what experiences will they feel in your coaching process? What is it that they’ll experience?

Pat Quinn:                   Well, the biggest fear people have what they hear that I’m a presentation coach is that I’m going to try to change their style, and I would never try to change someone’s style. People asked me the other day if I worked with actors and actresses, and the answer is no. Actors and actresses are actually doing the opposite of what I do. Actors and actresses are going in front of the camera or into a room full of people and pretending to be someone that they’re not. I want you to do just the opposite. I don’t want you to authentically and transparently be yourself, and I can help you do that in a way that attracts clients.

The second worry that people have is that I’m going to put you into a formula, and I simply won’t do that. There’s more than one right way to do this. I’m simply going to add some techniques to your presentation that will make it more effective if you want to get more clients to engage with you after the presentation.

I think the third fear is probably that I’m going to teach you tricks to manipulate the audience or be sales-y, and I certainly won’t do that. I don’t believe you need to trick the audience to get them to engage with you after the presentation. If you’re on a mission to help people, if you have a solution that really works, all you have to do is authentically and transparently be yourself and share that solution with people, and they will want to engage with you after the presentation. And so, we actually teach techniques that aren’t sales-y, that aren’t tricks, that manipulate the audience. We want the audience to make a smart, wise choice and we want you to be authentic and transparent on stage. The most common way that we help people is through our two-day workshops in Milwaukee where in two days we help you write the signature presentation that you can take onstage or online to convert as many clients as you want into the next phase of your business, into engaging with you after the presentation.

Barbara Hales:             If you want a faster way to grow, your reputation is the leading expert and grow your practice, Pat has explained that speaking is the way to do it. You can bypass years of burnout and hoping to get noticed to become the expert in your field. You’ll command amazing results with Pat’s guidance. If you’re ready to create an unforgettable presentation, your next step should be to register for the Signature Talk Execution Workshop. It has the power to change your life and the lives of so many others because you said yes. How can people reach you, Pat?

Pat Quinn:                   You can simply go to That’s, and you can email me at

Barbara Hales:             It’s been a great pleasure having you here today, Pat, and I’m sure my audience is going to have a lot of expert advice in hearing your information.

Pat Quinn:                   Thanks for the opportunity, and we look forward to seeing you in Milwaukee.


Connect with Pat Quinn:    

Facebook:   Pat Quinn




Connect with Barbara Hales: 

Twitter:   @DrBarbaraHales


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YouTube: BarbaraHalesMD