Speaking on the same topic repeatedly? Read these tips
Almost every conference, regardless of industry, requires that speaking sessions offer something new that the audience hasn’t heard before. But have you ever noticed that many presenters speak on the same topic year after year?
I used to wonder how people got away with speaking on the same topics repeatedly. Then I noticed a pattern. Almost everyone who often covers the same topics does three things well:
- Know your audience.
- Update your Message Map.
- Add new information each time you speak.
Know your audience before speaking
Speaking on the same topic often requires really knowing your audience. Ask the conference organizer for as many details as they offer, including the actual list of attendees, if you can get it.
Find answers to as many of these questions as you can:
- What is the audience’s age range?
- Is everyone in the audience in the same industry, or is it a mix?
- How diverse is the audience?
- Do most of the audience live near the location where you’re speaking, or are they traveling to the conference?
- How many people in the audience may have seen you speak on this topic in the past?
- What questions will this audience likely have about your topic?
If you can get the actual list of attendees, investigate a few different people on the Internet to see if they’re active on Twitter or LinkedIn. You may find a few things that will inform your speech.
Update your Message Map often
While the key messages for your topic most likely don’t change frequently, new information to support your topic probably appears often.
For example, my business partner George Stenitzer and I frequently speak about and write about messaging. But we continually add new examples and research that supports our theme of delivering a clear, concise, consistent message.
For example, we both follow Dr. Carmen Simon, a cognitive neuroscientist who does a lot of research on how to be remembered. We often add her recent findings to our workshops.
Well before your scheduled presentation, pull out your Message Map and spend some time updating it. Scour the Internet for new research that supports your point of view.
Did you find something that contradicts your point of view? That’s okay. Add it to your Message Map, along with the information you find to refute it. That way, if you get a question from the audience, you have all you need to offer a good answer.
Add new information each time you speak on the same topic
Once you’ve updated your Message Map, use it to add new information to your speech. Keep in mind that some audience members may have heard you speak on this topic before, so ensure that it’s clear in the first few minutes of your speech that you will share new information with them.
Remember, you don’t have to use everything on your Message Map each time you speak. Use what you learn about your audience to make your presentation even more relevant to them.
Update your visual aids as well, so your audience realizes they truly are seeing something new.
Once your speech is ready, rehearse, so you’re comfortable with the changes you’ve made and with your updated information.
Lastly, always take questions after speaking. It’s the best way to find out what’s on the minds of your audience today. Their questions will give you ideas for the next time you speak on the same topic.
Learning your audience, updating your Message Map, and adding new information to your presentation are the keys to speaking on the same topic successfully.
For assistance with presenting, messaging, and other communications needs, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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