How to Make Your Next Speaking Gig Epic

The best tips on who to write an awesome speech that doesn't put anyone to sleep

I'm going to make a leap today. Stick with me, okay?

Part of the reason that you want to host an event, a networking opportunity, or a conference is so that you can give a speech or a short presentation about you, your business, WHY you do what you do, and how you want to help your community.

(If not, it should be. That's for tomorrow's post.)

But how do you create a really strong presentation and keep your community engaged without rambling on and on?

And how do you outline a good talk that makes people not only inspired by you, but also want to work with you at the end of your talk?

1 | Start with a Question

The BEST talks and speeches aren't just a one-way show. We've all been to THOSE talks, right?

The ones where the speaker gets up on stage and walks you through a Powerpoint?


The ones where the speaker talks at you for 59 minutes and then leaves room for one run of the mill questions?

I'm already bored.

Instead, start with a question that gives you a read on your audience, what level of experience they have, and to set the tone that this is a CONVERSATION not just them listening to you.

Introductory questions gauge the audience's interest and where they're at.

For a talk about grant-writing, ask "How many of you have ever applied for a grant?" or "If I asked you to pull out your smart phone right now, how many of you would know where to start with finding a grant for your business or organization?"

Action step: Brainstorm a list of 3-4 questions that you genuinely want to know from your audience to see their appetite for the information you're about to present.

2 | Talk about why the people in the room are there listening to you

Moving from a question into a phrase that starts "We're now living in a world that does XYZ" or "We live in an amazing community" or "Ten years ago, I couldn't have even asked you to take out your smart phone."

You want to address people's pain points here and point out exactly why it is that they're in the room with you. You're seeking to make them feel understood and then, you're reeling them in to feel like you uniquely are qualified to deliver them great information to help them.

Try this: after you ask your question, make a connection to the question and the frustration that people are probably feeling.

So, if you went with the smartphone question in a talk about finding grants, you could say "In a world where we have more access to information than ever before, researching and effectively writing grants is still a mystery. Even to people in the non-profit world!"

Move forward and talk about other frustrations or beliefs that you have about the way the current industry is. You can talk about positive things, too, like how your work has helped tens or hundreds or thousands of people, but still there are many more that are suffering in the dark.

3 | Discuss your WHY

This is where you start to "storify" your business a little bit. Once you've identified the frustration, you can talk about how you felt that similar frustration, and in an attempt to create a solution to these problems, you created your own business.

Top tip: Try to pick one specific story about how you decided to start your business and how that business led you to the work you do with your clients today.

4 | Introduce yourself and talk about what exactly you do and how you do it

This may seem a little backwards, but the key to messaging a speech correctly is to identify with your customer FIRST before you introduce yourself and tell them how you solve that problem.

This is the part where you go into your traditional elevator speech and tell people what you do. You can "storify" this part, too, by saying something like "After I spent years

Top tip: This part doesn't have to be super long. It's more of a "My name is Grant Writer McGee and after all that fighting on my own, trying to find grants that helped my non-profit, I decided to get really educated on the grant process. Now, I lend my brain out to my clients and help them find amazing grant opportunities that fund new hires, create new programs, and make their non-profits essential."

5 | Request questions about everything you just said

If you're doing a short talk, I would open it up to Q+A and let people ask you questions to further the conversation and to create an organic natural dialogue.

If it's a longer talk, lengthen each piece of the above and add as many stories or real life examples that proves your point into each specific section.

But seriously, questions should be your oxygen because they're exactly how you can learn to tailor your live events, your speaking gigs, and even your business' offerings to your exact audience.

6 | Give a call to action

Give people something to do next. Either tell them to go home and take one action, or get in touch with you to see how they can work with you. It doesn't need to be a hard sales pitch, but it does need to be something actionable that they can do pretty quickly at the end of the speech.

Okay, your turn! When you speak, do you use notes? Do you read from something prepped? How do you organize your thoughts into a cohesive talk? Tell me in the comments below!

Lauren CaselliComment