If you’ve ever been asked to speak at a conference or considered putting together a live seminar, you’ll know that coming up with an interesting topic can be a bit daunting.
In fact, it’s not a million miles away from the kind of dread many blog writers feel when faced with a blank piece of paper, myself included.
What in the name of Anthony Robbins could you possibly have to share that will be interesting and valuable to your audience.
The more you try and focus your mind, the more it wanders or simply goes blank. You write down some ideas but instantly suffer a bout of self-doubt.
Sure, there’s stuff you think might make a good talk but you convince yourself that it’s nothing new. That everyone already knows what you know.
You’ll probably get up there and bore them to death or they’ll simply roll their eyes at how basic your information is.
I mean what right do you have to tell other people what to do???
If this sounds all too familiar, it’s because it’s very common.
You’re not alone
I asked the audience at a recent seminar what was holding them back from doing live presentations. The number one reason wasn’t a fear of public speaking but the challenge of coming up with good content.
While everyone present agreed how valuable talks were for creating new business opportunities, few felt they had the knowledge to make it work for them.
The truth is, we all have valuable knowledge, but it’s our attitude towards that knowledge that holds us back.
It’s not that we don’t have worthwhile insights to share. The challenge is we have trouble identifying what we know that will be valuable to others.
And it’s this conundrum that not only inspired me to write this article but also highlighted the most important principle in any kind of compelling content creation.
When you know what people really want, creating compelling content for them becomes a breeze.
Give great information to get great prospects
So what do people want?
Right now you’re probably thinking there are literally endless possibilities for why a person might come to talk.
The reality is what your audience is looking for can be boiled down to 3 drivers:
The road to achieving anything we want is always pot marked with challenges that must be overcome to reach our goal.
Typically we don’t have the information we need to overcome them on our own and so we seek out those who can help us.
Seminars that focus on a specific challenge that your prospects are currently facing and gives them some of the information and tools they need to overcome it are immensely powerful.
When someone learns something useful and gains results from its application, they feel good about themselves. Most importantly they feel good about the person who gave them the advice.
Even better, identifying these challenges doesn’t have to be difficult:
- Think about the problems that your clients bring you and the goals they want you to help them achieve
- Read your industry trade magazines
- Go onto forums and social network sites
- Mix in groups inhabited by your prospects and you will see them discussing their woes
- Of course the simplest way is to ask them but it’s surprising how few people talk to their target audience before giving a talk
In a future blog, we’ll look in more detail at simple questioning strategies that will give you seriously strong topics for your talks.
There’s a reason why brands spend millions of pounds each year on market research. It’s the same reason that scientists run the same experiment over and over again. It’s also the reason why many people attend conferences and seminars.
They want confirmation that what they’re doing or the assumptions they’ve made are correct.
The information they need is usually very similar to the group that require guidance. They will just be listening to it in a different way.
While the first group will be taking copious notes that they can use when they get back to the office, the second group will be ticking boxes and looking for any gaps in their thinking.
It’s in these situations that presenting your case studies becomes a very powerful tool.
A good case study identifies a specific problem and then tells the story of how that problem was overcome and the results that were achieved.
The confirmer can follow the story and test their own progress against it. It also gives them the opportunity to get a taste for the results that they could achieve if they carry on doing what they’re doing.
FOMO or the ‘fear of missing out’ is really a social phenomenon.
It’s always been with us but is now magnified by technology and our ability to instantly see what our friends are doing in the moment via Facebook and other social platforms.
It’s that wish I was there feeling. That pang of envy when you wonder why your life isn’t as exciting as the author of the update.
What’s interesting is it’s also a term that’s as relevant in business.
It applies to information that people are fearful of missing out on because the not having will somehow put them at a disadvantage.
It refers to information that people feel that they can’t get anywhere else.
This might be consumer or market insights generated from an exclusive piece of research. It might be a unique process that has generated incredible results for your customers. Or it could be the latest tips and tricks for getting the most out of a new technology.
You had what you needed all along
Whether it’s guidance, confirmation or FOMO that drives your audience, we all have information that will fulfil one or all of these needs.
That information can be basic or advanced, it all depends on your audience.
Remember, there are always people who want new things to discover, basics to learn and who are looking for that secret edge that will propel them closer to their goals and aspirations.
And when you can provide that edge, why would your audience look anywhere else for a supplier?