In an earlier article, I shared a video I created on the The Power of Process. It talked about having a focused, consistent process to improve your speaking performance. I also introduced the 10-step process used in my Communication Success: Beginnings course. In an ongoing series of articles, I will go into the details of each step. This article is on Step 1: Determine Your Topic.
Your topic is your what
Having a well-defined topic is the first step in developing your next speech or presentation. It’s the “what” you want to share with your audience.
Victor Hugo, the French author, wrote that “All the armies in the world are powerless against an idea whose time has come.” A little dramatic, but it makes the point that it is the idea that matters. It’s your idea that matters. And, if it’s an idea whose time has come, amazing things can happen.
So, how do you begin determining your topic?
Core properties of a successful topic
As the lead presenter coach for TEDxPaloAlto, I worked with over 30 different speakers to develop their talks. In guiding and supporting this diverse group, along with other powerful speakers, I’ve identified 5 core properties of a successful topic.
The first property is Purpose. Your purpose is why you’re speaking. Why are you sharing your ideas and vision with your audience? And why are they listening? Remember, your audience doesn’t want you to deliver a presentation. They want you to deliver something of value.
The second property is Authenticity. As a speaker coach, authenticity comes from sharing who you really are. Your values, perceptions, experiences, even your sense of humor. This is where your credibility lies.
To determine your authenticity, ask: Why you? Why are you, versus anyone else, uniquely qualified to talk about this topic? Why are you the expert? Why do you care? And why should your audience care?
Next is Relevance. Relevance means your topic is applicable to the world today or, more importantly, to your specific audience. Believe me, if your topic is not relevant, they won’t listen. You become relevant when you start with your audience’s perspective.
Vision is the fourth property. When it comes to topics, you want to give your audience something to aspire to. A future state that is better–in some way–than today. Your vision is what unites your audience.
The final property is Novelty. Novelty is something new, unique, and special. Novelty makes people go, “wow! I never thought about it that way!” You want to offer a new way of looking at the topic you’re sharing.
Create your successful topic now
To summarize, the 5 properties are: Purpose, Authenticity, Relevance, Vision, and Novelty. However, it is important to remember that you don’t need to have equal parts of these properties. In fact, you really don’t want that. It’s perfectly fine if only one or two properties dominate.
How will you use these properties in developing the topic for your next speech, presentation, or conversation?
Next up is Step 2 in the Communication Success: Beginnings process: Define Your Purpose.
Are you ready to take your communication skills to the next level? Let’s schedule a call to discuss your needs and begin improving the results you achieve from every speech, presentation, and conversation.