Article #92, April, 2010
"How to Write a Talk from Scratch”
Giving free talks is an excellent way for a good speaker to promote her business. It’s like giving a free sample, and sampling is a proven marketing strategy for all types of industries.
The problem I most often hear is this, “I don’t know how to create a talk!”
It is much simpler than you think. Once you finish this article, you will be wondering why you didn’t think of this yourself.
The first step that is often overlooked is to figure out what your audience is most interested in learning about. Consider the following:
- who is my target market?
- what are the greatest benefits of my product or service to my target market?
- what are the biggest problems my target market is facing right now?
- what topics can I think of that combine my target market’s problems with the benefits I provide to them with my product/service?
List as many as you can think of. Then look carefully at the list. You know your target market pretty well, so what do you think your people would find most interesting? Which topics would bring them to a talk to listen to you? Choose the top 3.
If you have any difficulty with this, ask a few of your clients for their opinions.
Before writing anything, call around and start marketing these 3 topics and see who books you as a speaker and which talks they select. If you have never given talks before, start with your local Kiwanis, Lions and Rotary clubs. Your target market may not be there, but it gives you great practice with minimal pressure.
The reason you are doing this before writing the talks is so you don’t waste time creating talks that you think are a good idea, but turn out to not be marketable.
Once you have at least one talk booked, then you can commence writing.
First, do a brainstorming session with yourself and list anything that you would like people to know about the chosen topic. Do not worry about the order or size of the idea. It could be a tiny thing that would only take 10 seconds to relay, or it could be such a big concept that it might be big enough to be a talk itself!
After creating this list, look at your ideas and group them together into categories. You do not need to identify the categories yet. See if you can put everything into 3 or 5 categories. Once this task is finished, then you can identify the categories, but don’t worry about the language yet.
You should now be able to see how the categories relate to your overall topic and the talk should reveal itself to you. It might be the top 3 ways to do something, or the top 5 things everyone needs to know about something, etc. Create a working title. This may or may not work as the final talk title.
Put the categories in order as you see it and then put the ideas in order under each category. Some items won’t fit for whatever reason – just take them out.
You now have your basic talk!
If it looks too long, take out some of the content. Free talks are usually 30 – 45 minutes in duration.
Create an invitation and a summary closing. NOTE: Don’t talk about yourself much in the introduction. You will put some biographical information in the introduction that the person reads aloud to introduce you, and since the people at the talk probably don’t know you, they really don’t care. Once they get to know you, then they will care.
Your closing should include a pitch for your product or service. This is customary for a free talk. You should treat it like the marketing opportunity that it is.
Fill in any details to make the information flow smoothly from one idea to the next. Think of it like you are telling a story that educates your audience about your area of expertise. There should be a beginning, middle and end, and there should be a point to the talk. Little stories about your clients’ experiences are a great way to segue from one topic to the next, and they are very interesting to your audience.
Now you are ready to run through it a couple of times to see if you can deliver this information. Put the talk into a Powerpoint or an outline or whatever works for you. It is perfectly OK for you to look at notes while you talk. This will keep you on track so you don’t run out of time, making sure you cover all the information that you feel is important to your audience.
You will need to create a title that will motivate group leaders to want you to come and will also bring people to the talk. Learning to do this takes time, so just do your best and learn as you go.
Now practice it and book more talks!