It’s amazing how many times people ask me, “Where do you get the ideas for your Speaking Tips?”
It rather strikes me as the same as my asking an accountant, “How do you know what to tell your client about his income tax?” Or a doctor, “How do you know what to tell your patient about his illness?” Or an insurance expert, “How do you know what to say about the policies and services you offer?” Whatever your profession, you’ve spent time and effort, not to mention money, to become knowledgeable and experienced. You’ve spent many hours in specialized classes, reading books, and attending workshops, webinars and seminars, until you’ve acquired a bank of information that you can draw on as needed to help your clients.
Armed with that basic learning, you’ve gone out into the world and found people who need your help to solve the problems and dilemmas they’re experiencing. If they’re having a tax audit, they need the accountant’s expertise to help them through it. If they’re sick, they need a doctor to analyze their symptoms and suggest a cure. If they’re starting a new business or a new family, they need the financial protection from disaster that will make them sleep easier at night.
If you’re an expert in these areas, you have enough knowledge at your fingertips to help them solve their difficulties. In the process, they’ll present you with specific problems that you may not have previously encountered. The problems may be unique to a particular client, or they may be universal to many. In any event, every time you work with someone who comes up with a situation you may not have previously faced, you gain more knowledge, more experience, and more information to add to your arsenal of professional competence.
So when you’re asked to speak about your profession, at a formal convocation or an informal meeting, you’ll have at your fingertips the ideas and information you need to talk knowledgeably for 30 minutes or so on a subject that will be of interest to the audience that invited you.
It’s the same for me as a speaker’s coach and speechwriter. Whenever I sit down to write a Speaking Tip, I go thru my memory bank and pull out the most interesting problems and dilemmas clients have brought to me to help them solve. Then I take the gist of the solutions we came up with and create from them a universal Speaking Tip.
For example, if I’ve been working with a client who has difficulty talking loud enough to be heard, I’ll create a Speaking Tip called “Speak to Be Heard” (Speaking Is Sexy Vol. III, #10,), or “Are You Comfortable Hearing You?” (Vol II, #6), or, going in a slightly different direction, “Saying Too Much vs. Saying Too Little” (Vol III, #9). The ideas for these Speaking Tips came from real life situations faced by the people who came to me for help.
Whenever you’re called upon to speak about your business or profession, and you’re not sure just where to start or what to say, think about the professional situations in which you were dealing with real people with real difficulties. There’s a wealth of ideas there that you can choose from. First, determine what your goal for the speech is, then choose from your real-life experience. It’s almost like picking one from Column A and one from Column B on a Chinese menu.
Try this technique. Keep a “Subjects to Speak About” notebook. Every time you come upon a situation you haven’t dealt with before, from which you learned something new that has universal applicability, make a note of it. Next time you need to give a talk, you’ll have a number of subjects just waiting for you in your notebook. You’ll never have to worry about finding something to talk about again.