How To Come Up With Your Speaking Topic

Get Referrals From SpeakingYour talk title is really an invitation for the audience to meet you via your presentation (and potentially come into your practice) so please spend some time creating a title that is inviting, fresh and unique – and if possible – FUN!

Here are some ideas to toss around when creating your talk title:

1. Consider what is your ideal client thinking but not saying.

“We can’t communicate” is a common client complaint. But would a client go to a presentation titled: “Male-Female Communication?” Probably not. Now – let’s look at what your client might be thinking but not saying. “I can’t stand it when my mate doesn’t pick up his socks.”  You can take this and turn it into a fresh and unique talk: “How to get your mate to do more of what you want, and less of what you don’t want”.

Another example comes from a therapist who works with cancer patients. There are a lot of free cancer resources – everything from support groups to scarf-tying classes. She wanted to be different and came up her talk: “What to respond when well-meaning people say stupid things about your cancer.”  Even though it was a serious subject, she gave her attendees playful response lines and people loved it.

2.  Make sure it is socially acceptable to attend your talk.

We intuitively know this but somehow we forget when creating talk titles. Imagine a talk: “Hope for your bulimia” or “How to know for sure if your child has been molested.” While these are important topics, they may be better suited for a video or blog post rather than a community lecture. Ask yourself, if I had this problem, would I be comfortable sitting at a public gathering with my neighbors admitting I needed help with this topic?

That said, you could soften your talk title even if you want to hit a difficult subject. Each November, for years, I was asked to do ‘Holiday Blues’ talks for the divorced and separated groups at local churches. Despite the organizers’ good intentions, rarely did more than a handful of people show up.  Then I asked myself, what did the potential attendees want? Not to be reminded of Holiday Blues but they wanted hope and new ideas. We changed the talk title to “Develop New Holiday Traditions this Year” and we packed the room.

3.  Ask yourself: What is the New Bliss the audience wants?

Storytelling is an art and when you are in front of an audience they want some type of story. Not a ‘once upon a time’ story. They are looking for something new – a new idea…a new solution…a new hope. At the same time, they are entrenched and married to their old way of thinking about the problem. So while, on one hand, they are excited to have you there to present a new way, they are going to at the same time, poke holes in your ideas. This is normal and we all do it.

So when you come up with a talk title, consider what solution the audience is looking for. When you begin your talk, show them you understand their current way of thinking. It is a lot like a therapy session. While we provide hope in the first session, we usually don’t expect people to behave or think instantaneously different.

I was asked to do talks for boards of directors on Conflict Resolution. The members on the boards were fighting and this was impacting the effectiveness of the boards. I thought about what each board member was probably thinking: “That other board member is so difficult!! I can’t believe she just said that!” So, considering both what they wanted (the New Bliss of getting along) and what is their current experience (Other people are so difficult) I created a presentation I called: “How to Deal with Difficult People with Humor, Grace, and so that Nobody Dies” (Epilogue: They loved it and I gave that talk for years.)

Your turn. Start with what you love to talk about. Think about what your client wants to admit to (by going to a talk) and what solution or New Bliss they are looking for. Then write up at least 20 if not 100 talk titles. You will land on one with a ‘knowing’ that yes! That is it!!

I’ll be talking more about this in my upcoming class: “Attract Clients through Speaking and Referrals, and check out the bonus: For the first five to register for the class, I’ll give you a review of your talk title, and talk content so you can WOW your audience.

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