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Presentation Skills -- Five Tips On Picking And Preparing Topics

   By: Chris King

Be passionate about your topic! I know beginning speakers who are so eager to be hired to speak that they tell prospective clients that they can speak on everything — just give them a topic. Not so! Yes, most intelligent people can pull together an informative presentation by reading and researching, but if you are not truly excited and turned on about the topic you are going to present, you will not make a lasting impression on audience members or move them to take any action. If, however, you speak about a topic that excites you, a topic that you know and live, you will excite those hearing you. Pick a topic that will make a difference.

Develop your mission. Once you have picked the topic you plan to present, you will have a good deal of work to do to develop that topic into a powerful presentation. The first step is to develop your mission. Every topic is loaded with information, but if you don't have a plan for the overall mission of your presentation, you will just add to the information overload most people are experiencing today. Ask yourself early in the planning process: What do I want them to remember and do three months from now? Take out a blank sheet of paper and write in one clear, concise sentence the mission of your presentation.

Pick your theme. Now work on your presentation's theme, which should also be stated in one concise statement. A theme, often a statement of the three most important points to be covered, keeps the presentation “on track.” For example, when giving a presentation on the topic “Newsletters” my mission would be to lead audience members to “Create Dynamic Newsletters that People Love to Read” and my theme would be “ways to produce newsletters that are appealing visually, extremely readable, and loaded with the information needed and wanted by the target readers.”

Develop the topic. The difficult, but most important, part of the development has been accomplished. By this time, I have my outline of the three points I want to make from my theme. There are many different ways to gather and organize the material. The main tip to keep in mind is that any material that doesn't fit the mission and the theme's three points should be saved for a future presentation.

Test your topic. I like to test my topic before presenting it to paying clients and companies. There are many organizations like Chambers of Commerce, Kiwanis clubs, non-profit associations, and business schools that welcome speakers who will give a free speech. Try out your presentation on several of these occasions to find out how well received it is and if it makes a difference. I also teach Continuing Education classes, so will suggest my topic and title as a class selection. If many sign up and respond favorably, I know I have a “winner.”

Chris King is a professional speaker, storyteller, writer, website creator / designer, free agent, and fitness instructor. Sign up for her eclectic E-newsletter, Portfolio Potpourri, at You will find her information-packed E-book How to Leave Your Audiences Begging for MORE! at and her business website at

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