Monday, June 11, 2012

Speaking of Your First Move...

"How do I get started?"

This is the question that invariably comes up from speakers I coach.

My answer is always the same:

"Well....what do you want to say?"

Reactions range from silence to confusion to quick lists of 3-10 topics to the scariest of all: "I can speak about anything!" As the old saying goes, if you can speak about anything, you really can speak about NOTHING with authority, creativity, and impact.

- If you don't know your message, you'll be hard-pressed to find an audience who wants to listen to you give it, regardless of how talented you are, much less get paid for speaking.

- If you don't know your message, it will never improve. You'll just keep saying whatever is at the forefront of your mind on the general topic.

- If you don't know your message, your audience will decide what it is for you, and it may not be the message you want. Or, more likely, they'll decide you don't have a message at all.

Even if you think you know your message, bouncing it off a coach can pay off. I've watched people's message transform in a matter of hours as they dig deeper than they thought they could, and honed their point into a stronger concept than they thought they had. There's a big difference between talking about web design, for example, and talking about WordPress for Stay-at-Home Moms.

Too Many Ideas?

Helping clients find and keep a message can be my biggest challenge as a coach. I've worked with clients who change their approach entirely between sessions, based on conversations with friends, spouses, web designers, other coaches, MLM opportunities, and even their accountants, and this can happen week to week to week.

Depending on the topic, your approach can vary considerably, which may drive you (and your coach) a little nuts. While it's challenging, it's also a necessary component to the process, as long as you understand you need a destination point. At some point, preferably before your first booked talk at your buddy's rotary club, you have to make a decision.

I'm not saying each speaker should only have one topic. But even if you're only giving the speech one time, knowing your message is crucial. But if you're starting out as a professional speaker, one topic is more than enough. Especially if you're learning all the other concepts - writing, editing, delivery, and marketing at the same time.

Finding your well-defined message is your first move as you prepare to Speak...and Deliver.


  1. ultimately, it seems there are a finite number of messages (inspire, inform, persuade, educate, entertain), yet unlimited ways in which to deliver them.

    My challenge is figuring out how and where to give my message, or more specifically, how to get started as a speaker. Just found your blog and will be searching through the archives to read what you have to say.

  2. For being a good speaker it's necessary component to the process, as long as you understand you need a destination point.

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