Advice for enterprising speakers
Develop a Sure-Fire Topic
If you’ve decided to expand your speaking repertoire, there are some surprisingly effective ways you can develop a new topic. One technique I use is to iden- tify obstacles, roadblocks or
irritations that people face. As patterns
began to emerge, it’s an “a-ha” moment
for a potential new topic. If you notice
as few as two people experiencing a
problem in their personal lives, careers
or organizations, you should start
exploring that topic.
Here are some other ways to identify
a new topic.
Talk to your local librarian. Often,
librarians keep a roster of frequently
requested books and topics. Reference
librarians at your municipal library,
college libraries and even corporate
libraries often maintain lists of frequently requested topics. In a way, it’s
like gaining built-in research.
Tap the industry influentials. Those
who serve, influence and regulate
members of a selected niche can iden-
tify hot industry topics and those
destined to become hot. By meeting
such industry influentials and establish-
ing relationships with them, you can
find today’s hot buttons—key issues
affecting your targeted industry. You
Attend meetings, conventions, trade
shows, and civic, charitable and social
functions where industry influentials
will be present.
Contact them via a mutual third
party and arrange to meet for lunch.
Call influentials directly and identify
a topic of direct interest to them.
Read trend-identifying publications.
USA Today, The New York Times, The
Wall Street Journal and similar publications and corresponding websites will
help you get in front of the pack on a
particular emerging topic in which you
can carve out a strong niche.
Converse with meeting planners.
Talk with co-workers, colleagues and
meeting planners to see what types of
needs are arising among their employees or association members. Many
successful topics have sprung from a
meeting planner’s request for a speaker
to provide a certain type of program.
Don’t be shy—inquire about the
meeting planner’s needs. A meeting
planner who saw one of my articles on
marketing was intrigued and invited me
to speak on it.
presentation on Breathing Space, I
have a component on creative procrastination techniques. I expanded this
eight-minute segment into a full-hour
program. Now, whenever I’m booked
to speak at a major convention for a
keynote, I also suggest to the meeting
planner that my presentation on creative procrastination would make a
wonderful complementary break-out
Expand on the subtopics within
your existing topics. When I give my
Re-read your interviews. If you have
been interviewed by newspaper reporters, you’ll notice they ask questions which
lead you on tangents. When the conversation gets lively, the seeds of another
topic sprout. A USA Today reporter interviewed me on how people can have more
breathing space in their lives, and he
asked me about an issue I hadn’t considered as a speaking topic. This issue made
for a good break-out and I have added it
to my speaking repertoire.