So You Want To Be A Speaker – What will You Talk About?

Regardless of which side of the fence you fall on you can significantly increase your success on stage by more actively involving your audience in your presentation. The question for you is ’How will you get your audience to interact with you in a manner you can control?

bret ridgway

There is no question that as a speaker there are any number of different factors you have to consider when you are thinking about the topic on which you want to speak.

man standing infront of group of people

If you are speaking as a means of establishing yourself as an expert to generate leads for your core product or service then your presentation may be vastly different than if being a professional speaker is your core business.

You have obviously gained a lot of experience over the course of your career and, while many recommend you have multiple speeches you can
deliver, most encourage you have one “go to” speech that is what you are
primarily known for.

But what should your “go to” speech be about? If you really want to position yourself as the expert in your market, it is critical you understand that it must be about much more than simply picking a niche.

The best explanation I ever heard about this was from Rich Schefren of Strategic Profits. Rich wrote an article a while back for the No B.S.TM Marketing Letter titled “How to Find Your Own Sweet Spot in Your Marketplace.” In his article, Rich talked about how many entrepreneurs fail because they go out in search of a niche rather than a sweet spot.

I would contend that the same exact conclusion can be drawn for speakers.

According to Rich this is because a niche is solely based on external factors, like a recognized need or a problem in need of a solution. In stark contrast, a sweet spot is based on your own internal factors such as your strengths, talents, experiences, passions, and so on.

So, what is your “sweet spot” as a speaker? Rich believes that everyone has a sweet spot, but it can take a significant amount of research and introspection on your part to find it. But, it will be well worth the effort.

First, get out your journal, and make three lists.

  1. Start by thinking about what you’re passionate about. Ask yourself:
    • What excites you?
    • What motivates you?
    • What conversations do you feel you must take part in?
    • What gets you out of bed in the morning?
  2. Then move on to your strengths:
    • What have you always been good at?
    • What have you used to make a living up to now?
    • What do your friends and family say are your best strengths?
    • Do you already have an area of your life where your friends regularly ask for your advice?
    • Do you have any advice you often give that’s not common knowledge?
  3. Then look at your past:
    • What unique experiences have you had?
    • How have past experiences made you who you are today?
    • Any great stories you always tell?

Once you have all of this written down look at your lists. If there is any crossover between the lists where your passions, strengths, and experience meet up then that is a good place to start looking for your sweet spot in the market.

Maybe you have already determined your sweet spot and know what your “go to” topic is. If so, great and congratulations. But, even after you have answered these questions, there are several other factors related to your content to which you will need to give consideration. This includes questions like:

  • Are you going to customize each presentation for your audience?
  • What will your teaching style be?
  • Will you incorporate humor and/or storytelling into your presentations?
  • Can you somehow tie in current events to your presentations to make your topic timelier to prospective clients?
  • If you are speaking at a multi-speaker event what are the other speakers talking about?

Let’s take a look at each of these.

Customization

A common question you should anticipate from prospective clients who are considering you for some type of keynote presentation is “Will you customize your presentation for my audience?” The answer should always be “Yes”.

Will it mean a bit more work on your end? You bet. But the benefits of customizing your presentation to your audience are significant. First, by demonstrating that you are responsive to the requests of your client you will be regarded much more highly and dramatically increase your chances of landing additional speaking engagements with that client.

And word gets around. When you become known as one of those people that are easy to work with and will go the extra mile for their clients then more and more work will come your way.

When you take the time to truly understand the wants and needs of your audience and know the demographics of your crowd then you will be able to craft a much more impactful speech. Ever heard the expression “I felt like he was talking right to me”?

When your audience has that reaction, you will find them much more receptive to your message and, if appropriate, to your product offerings.’

Teaching Style

Are you a “gung-ho take no prisoners” kind of person or a more laid back “just telling some stories” kind of person? There is no right or wrong answer here. Maybe you are somewhere in between. Regardless of what your personality style is, your teaching style will probably be reflective of your personality.

In life you need to be “authentic” this applies fully to your teaching style. If you try to be something you are not then more than likely it will catch up with you eventually and your success will wane because you are not being true to yourself.

Regardless of which side of the fence you fall on you can significantly increase your success on stage by more actively involving your audience in your presentation. The question for you is “How will you get your audience to interact with you in a manner you can control?”

Many do it by asking questions to which they already know the answer. Others informally survey the room to get people to raise their hand, while others get their audience involved with more detailed hands-on experiences.

There are no right or wrong answer here. Just the question of what will you do to get your audience involved in your presentation.

Use Humor With Great Caution

Humor/Storytelling

A large part of many speakers teaching style is their use of humor and/or storytelling in their presentation. People generally love stories and if you can call upon your life experiences for a story that helps you to illustrate a point you should take full advantage of that story.

Humor can be great also but one must use humor with great caution. What is funny to you may not be funny to another. You should generally be politically correct and avoid talking about powder keg subjects like religion and politics.

Current Events

The ability to relate any part of your presentation to the current events of the day is another great way to better relate to your audience. When they see that your content is “fresh” and is related to things they are hearing about in the news this makes your topic more attractive and timely for them.

Meeting planners typically schedule their speakers well in advance so this is a little trickier to do when you are trying to attract future speaking engagements. But the customization we spoke of earlier can also include current events and your ability to make your presentation more “trendy” can help establish long term relationships in the industry.

Multi-Speaker Events

If you are speaking at an event that will have multiple speakers across a few day period it is so important that you try to find out, in advance, what each of the other speakers will be talking about.

Let me tell you a story.

A few years ago I was attending an Internet marketing conference that featured somewhere around 18- 20 total speakers over the course of the three day event. The event promoter had selected his speakers based upon name value alone. No thought was given whatsoever (or so it seemed) to what topic each speaker would be presenting.

So, what happened? As it turned out there were three different speakers at this event talking about the subject of copy writing. So, by the time the third speaker got up to do his presentation the audience was already bored with the subject of copy writing.

When that speaker tried to sell his copy writing products/ services at the end of his presentation the audience had already heard two other offers related to copy writing. Bottom line—he bombed!

If he would have found out in advance that two others on the stage before him were talking about copy writing also he would at least have had the opportunity to change his presentation in some way to make it different than the others. But he did not know in advance and was not able to adapt on the fly so his results were not nearly what he wanted.

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Bret Ridgway

Find out more about Bret Ridgway and the services Speaker Fulfillment Services can provide you at SpeakerFulfillmentServices.com.

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