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Finding That Topic in the ‘Sweet Spot’ of Your Venn Diagram



By Claudia Brogan

One of my very favorite bloggers in the arena of communication is Andrew Dlugan (“Six Minutes”). Heaven only knows where he comes up with the excellent topics and resources that he shares for teachers, speakers and trainers. Oh wait…it’s not just Heaven that knows. Actually, Andrew generously divulges a great tool for coming up with good speaking subjects.

He calls this the “Secret of choosing successful speech topics” and I highly recommend to you his thorough, thought-provoking blog piece linked below.

Consider finding that “sweet spot” right in the middle of a Venn Diagram made of three intersecting circles.

I can remember when I was asked to provide verbal and written feedback for a speaker, and the best way I knew to respond to him was that it never did seem like that speech subject really “suited” him. Like a pair of shoes that just really didn’t quite fit, it felt to me as a listener that he was building a speech on topics foreign – and actually, uninteresting – to him.

When it is next time for you to pick (or refine) a topic for speaking, approach it by selecting a topic that can be found where these three circles overlap:

  • Topics that you are quite knowledgeable (or expert!) about
  • Topics that you have passion and strong interest in
  • Topics that your audience really wants to hear about

Even when you start to sketch your own version of what this 3-circle diagram looks like, you will start to see clarity emerge about which topics would make great ideas for your next presentation… and which topics really fall outside the realm.

This tool might be quite useful whether you have a certain domain of ideas you are known and are invited to speak about, or whether a group invites you to speak and they have a great deal of flexibility in what they’d like to hear you address. Whether you are refining your speech by narrowing it down so you’ll have a great “fit” among these three circles, or you are creating a brand new presentation topic, you will find Dlugan’s model as a great guide.

As I examine this tool, I see in hindsight where a few of my presentations might have been vastly improved. For instance, noting the first bullet listed above, I know that when I have based a speech on my having only brief cursory knowledge to work on, I would never have been able to respond to any follow-up questions (this fact is a great rule of thumb to use when preparing your speech: Are you comfortable enough to answer questions from the audience afterwards? If that very prospect makes you nervous, then this topic may not be one that you are quite ready to deliver.)

Secondly, even if the topic is one you are familiar with, it’s not your optimal presentation if it’s a topic that you have little or no interest in or energy about. As you will see in Dlugan’s blog piece, the next time this situation comes up for you, consider other methods for how that information could be delivered to the audience instead.

Thirdly, even if it’s a topic that you know and love, focus distinctly upon the audience: do they have any interest, curiosity, or reason to use this information? Even if you love it, it is quite essential that you design your remarks and presentation with your listeners in mind.

I encourage you to read the blog post and description by Andrew Dlugan at: http://sixminutes.dlugan.com/speech-topics/. It just might change the way that you refine and narrow down the elements of your next presentation, once you consider this Venn Diagram approach.

Claudia Brogan is a speaker, trainer and facilitator who helps organizations by coaching presenters, leading collaborative meetings and problem-solving with groups and teams. Reach out to see how she can help you. Contact Claudia via email at claudiabrogan @ gmail.com, through LinkedIn or by phone at 404-849-5182.

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