Public Speaking – Six Steps to Choosing a Topic That Will Wow 'Em Every Time

by Lily White
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Public speaking is one of the most powerful ways to market your business. But what do you do when you have so much content to choose from? Where do you begin? And how do you choose and narrow your topic?

Recently I attended a local networking event and witnessed first hand the disastrous results of a speaker who neglected to choose and narrow a specific a topic within everything she offers. The speech was unbearably overtime – going 30 minutes overtime for what was only supposed to be a 20-minute presentation. The speaker ended up having to rush through her planned comments, skipped many of her slides, was basically pulled from the stage, and obviously could not take any questions at the end. Not that anyone wanted to ask anything – a large portion of the audience walked out during her presentation because she was still speaking 15 minutes after the planned end of the luncheon meeting. People had to get back to work.

Unfortunately, this was sad because this speaker was an otherwise talented and believer speaker. She had excellent stage presence, was clearly knowledgeable, and had a few funny comments sprinkled through her presentation. Her main problem: lack of focus on one topic. Here's what you can do to avoid that problem when selecting and narrowing your topic:

Step 1: Choose something you love . This one is easy. If you focus on something about your business you are passionate about, your audience will be drawn into your energy, passion, and enthusiasm for your topic.

Step 2: Focus on one key area and break that into smaller, manageable chunks. If you are a financial or tax consultant, do not try to explain the entire US tax code in 20 minutes or less. You'll never do it and you'll lose your audience. Try something like: Three End of Year Tax Tips That Will Save You Money. Now there's a topic people will love. Here's a hint: anything that will save people money or make them money are popular topics with audiences.

Step 3: Talk about the details of each chunk. It's OK to go into some detail when you're only discussing three main points of one aspect of your business. Answer the old journal questions of what, where, when, why, and how.

Step 4: Make sure you have a point. Fill in the blank at the end of this sentence: "After listening to my speech I want my audience to [blank]." Be sure whatever you want the audience to get out of your speech is clearly presented. Everything should lead to that goal.

Step 5: Offer your audience something useful , especially if you are delivering your speech as a way to market your business. You can offer a free report, a coupon, a detailed brochure … something tangible that can use that relates to the topic of your speech. Your free offer is an opportunity for you to go deeper into your topic, sometimes in exchange for their email address or business card so you can follow up with them later.

Step 6: Always remember your audience and the details most pertinent to them. For example, you would not give the same speech on organizing to a Mom's group that you would to a business group. Moms often have to clean up toys, keep track of their kids' schedules, and have loads of clothes to handle. Business executives may have those concerns at home, but if you are talking to business people, your details should relate to their business issues such as: effective methods for filing, taming desk clutter, and organizing a computer email inbox. You must make your details be useful for that specific audience.

Public speaking can help you grow your business so you will see more cash flow. By choosing a topic and narrowing your topic, you will captivate your audience and your business will benefit from the power of public speaking.

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