Dear Speaker: What's Your Message?
WHAT WILL YOU SAY?
If you're speaking, you have a message. If you didn't have a message, it would be called rambling. It's probably difficult to get paid to ramble, so we're going to stick with speaking.
Everyone wants to share something, and speakers are paid to share an important or entertaining message with a targeted audience. Your message is your core concept -- it's the content you want to be recognized for. When people see your face, your message should be their front-and-center thought. I don't mean to say that you can't speak about multiple things as a speaker -- you absolutely can (and sometimes must). But your message is the thing that you're most passionate about. It's the thing that you most enjoy sharing with others.
Bringing Your Emotion
It doesn't matter how scientific or abstract a message is: it still has to be important to you. Some people assume that technical speaking is -- by its nature -- dry and boring. I heartily disagree. A great speaker can present statistics with candor, humor, and passion that brings the numbers to life. Most of the time, that's because the message is so important to the speaker that they can bring a whole new dimension to the subject.
It’s important to know why you want to speak, of course. That's the first thing you ought to think about. What is it that speaking will bring to you? Why is the message worth sharing with others and why must you share it?
Though your why is important (it's easy to watch someone who's motivated on stage), you must also consider how it will benefit your audience. There has to be something in it for them, even if it's just entertainment. When you speak, you've got to provide something of value to the majority of people in those seats. That's why targeting and choosing the right events is so important, along with broadening your message and discovering the benefits.
What is your expertise? They say "stick with what you know," right? That's because what you know is oftentimes effortless as opposed to what you sorta know. If you're a professional in any field, chances are you should speak about your line of work. A lot of peers misconstrue this as saying they should advertise their company on stage.
Not at all -- that's an awfully quick way to lose an audience. Instead, share your in-field knowledge that others can apply to their own career journeys. If you're in the right circles and speaking to the right targets, people will find you valuable and trustworthy. And when you're both of those things, you can't help but build an audience.
When you're just starting out, it might be tough to get a hold of high-paying speaking contracts. That's fine -- it happens in any career. But if you can speak directly to your target market (for instance, at a trade show or a particular association), don't worry about doing it for free.
Free is never free when you're gaining clients or building a valuable network.
Consider, then, that your message is everything you want your network to be about. Even if it's not your line of work, if you're an expert on it, talk about it if that's where you want your career to head. Chances are you'll meet lots of like-minded people that trust you and want to join you on your journey.
Once you've picked out your message, we can start honing on your delivery of it. You can find out how in part two of this blog series by clicking here: