Choosing out of a list of speech topics feels stressful, I understand.
You want to make sure you pick the right topic that gets the audience excited - not dipping out for a coffee break or checking their Facebook.
You’ve attended not-so-good presentations before. You’ve gone to an event, sat in an awkwardly uncomfortable chair and hoped to get GREAT insights from a speaker.
Sitting down, pen poised, they began to speak and seemed to be...a bit all over the place. There weren’t any specific one liners you wanted to jot down. As they wrap up, you applauded to be nice but felt uninspired as you grabbed your bag and walked out.
I often notice this “what topic do I pick?!” phenomenon in my trainings
(And am showing exactly how to avoid it!)
The speaker had her topic chosen and shared EVERYTHING they knew on that one concept. The result? A long, unstructured presentation that leaves the listener in a fog.
You can avoid this “what topic do I pick?!” problem, easily.
Finding the key message of your presentation takes one inquiry.
What’s the one sentence that my audience should remember?
Think of it this way: If my listeners come home in the evening and tell their partner in a sentence what my presentation was about, what would they say?
Once you’ve narrowed down this topic or if you’re choosing between 2 - 3 subjects, I recommend doing the following →
Outline 3 - 5 specific points / arguments that support that message.
Why? The wondrous author Carmine Gallo shares in his latest book, "Talk like TED":
“What makes your heart sing? What drives you? When you have found your message, look for 3 - 5 arguments that support the message.”
You’re going to feel the need to say MORE about your niche, this speciality.
Shortening so much knowledge to only 20 - 45 minutes HURTS. I totally get this takes bravery.
Know this: Including only the most relevant content is helping your listener by keeping them focused on one goal and topic - vs. overwhelming them with a subject they may not know very well.
Here's an example: As a voice coach and speech educator, one of my topics is "The Human Voice". I can talk about it for 5 hours (or quickly in blogs like this one!)
The key message, depending on the target group, could be:
"We should introduce a morning voice training in your company".
This already eliminates many things that I would have said in the mere topic. My heart statement is: "Train your voice - it is the most powerful and intimate means of expression you have".
By narrowing the topic and getting clear on my backup points, I can actually feel more confident staying small and deep on my talk vs. sharing all the information I’d LOVE to about this work.
If you’re having trouble finding this ultimate message…
If it’s a challenge knowing what DO I want people to say?...
What is my audience's internal journey?
Where are they right now & where do you meet them? (e.g. They are afraid of public speaking.) Where are they internally when you have finished your talk? (e.g. They are excited about public speaking and know they can learn it as well.)
Use this knowledge to choose a topic that truly helps them right where they are - which is probably farther behind your own knowledge than you think.
When you have asked this and found your (heart) message by asking the “What do I want listeners to take away?” message, write out 3 - 5 points you want backing it up.
The presentation will be shorter and more targeted.
The audience will thank you.
Honestly, especially as positive “thank you!” reviews flow in, you’ll be thanking you, too.
(Plus, this is key overall for how to give a great speech, choosing a topic you KNOW is going to hit home so you don’t feel so relieved when speech is over!)
To get more specific strategies that’ll take you from nervous how to deliver and write a speech and into a confident woman rocking the stage, get the Stage Ready Workbook: 10 dynamic steps to become a “Wow, she’s so good!” speaker