So you’re trying to get in the business of speaking, eh? (Or like most, you’re trying to get speaking into your business.)
Well one of the most important questions you’ll ask yourself as a speaker, before you even start asking yourself how you’re going to get speaking gigs is the question of what you will be talking about.
Here are four factors that play a role in choosing your speaking topic (I also made a worksheet to help you. Click HERE to download.):
Speakers can get paid thousands of dollars for a single speaking engagement, so providing value to your audience is so important. By finding a topic that can provide value that organizations can justify paying you for, you’ll have an easier time leveraging yourself as a paid speaker.
Consider these things that might present you as a higher-value speaker:
You can provide a solution to an expensive or challenging problem that can save money, time, or other resources.
You have expertise in a certain topic or niche.
You can teach skills or information that will provide long-term value to the audience or organization.
You have received awards or recognition that gives you credibility in a certain field or industry.
It’s not just enough to have a topic that provides high value. You might be able to provide a specific solution to a business by reading several business books, but it will be very difficult to speak on the topic without having the personal experiences to build on your case.
Perhaps you have had experiences in your life that can translate to a valuable lesson for audiences to learn from. This can be a challenge you have faced in your personal life or circumstances that have made you face many hardships. For example, there are many speakers that talk about the discriminating experiences they have faced as a member of the LGBTQ+ community and how they have dealt with those challenges.
Perhaps you haven’t had such challenges. Maybe you’ve built a successful business or maybe you’re using your privilege to help an underprivileged group. You can use these experiences to teach others what you have learned.
What do you believe in? What is a message that you want to tell others? By knowing what you believe in and, most importantly, why you stand by that belief, it will be easier to consistently convey that message to your audience.
Perhaps, your idea challenges a common belief. According to Wired’s Guide to Crafting the Perfect TED Talk, “TED is where conventional wisdom goes to die.” As a huge fan of TED talks, there’s no comparable feeling as the satisfying feeling of hearing a speaker make a solid case for an unconventional idea.
Use your beliefs to help you figure out what you’d like to talk about.
Passion is the emotional glue that holds all the above elements together. What are you passionate about? Your passion will not only make talking about the topic enjoyable for you, but it will show to your audience making for a better experience for everyone. Your topic might require you to do some research. Your passion for the topic will definitely help make that type of work easier and more interesting.
After you’ve finished analyzing these four factors, look for common topics or themes that arise. You can use my worksheet on Choosing Your Speaking Topic to help you put your thoughts on paper.
Okay, your turn!
What are the challenges you face when choosing a speaking topic? For those that already have a topic, what’s your #1 challenge right now?