How To Come Up With Topics To Speak About

Matt KramerUncategorized

public speaking - speech topics

Listen or read! Or both. You decide! 


I’m sure we’ve all asked ourselves at one point, “what can I possibly talk about that’s worth a damn?”

Today I’m going to tell you why you’re worth a damn. And no, I’m not just saying that to make you feel good.

I’m going to show you how you can find topics to talk about—ones that will be interesting and entertaining to your audience.

Here it goes. What are you knowledgeable about? Quick tip: You should probably only talk about things you know about. ProbablyDo you specialize in a skill? A professional dolphin groomer perhaps? I’d listen to that. Another question to ask yourself: What are you passionate about? In fact, it’s not a bad idea to be both knowledgeable and passionate about the topic you choose. So not bad, right? We’re off to a good start.

But, would you believe me if I told you that there’s an even better place to scavenge? Suspend belief for just a second and pay attention. The place to get topics from…is…get readyyour life. Your stories. Your experiences. Your failures—oh boy do people like hearing about those

The beauty is that you own all of those things! They’re unique to you. Sure, someone may have had a similar experience, but your perception of it will never be the same as someone else’s (same for the emotions and thoughts that were going through your mind at the time).

And the best way to uncover them is to use CONTEXT.

A way to add context is to have a checklist of different times or areas of your life and then go through each one, one by one, and recall all related stories for that time/area.

Example: Traumatic

Immediately start thinking about those really crazy experiences, life or death type of things. Car accidents that you or someone close to you was in? Robbed at the Kwik-E-Mart? House burn down? All those types of things.

Maybe another could be childhood friends. Again, go through your mind maze and think of your childhood friends and any significant stories. Go for the low hanging fruit first—the obvious ones that zip into your mind right away—and then extort your brain further and squeeze out more. 

Here are some categories to get started:

  • Elementary school
  • High school
  • Sports you played
  • Hobbies you’re involved in
  • Family members (a sibling story is usually our story, too)
  • Cars
  • Parties
  • Holidays
  • Jobs you had
  • Been in any fights?
  • Police encounters
  • Embarrassing moments
  • Beach
  • Vacations
  • Restaurants
  • Dating
  • Broken bones
  • and on and on… 


Okay, got the picture? Oooh, that reminds me, another helpful tip to remember past experiences is to look at old pictures of yourself. Throw yourself back in time and start associating stories from that period. It’s easy once you have a frame of reference.

So, go through your checklist (and pictures) and write down the stories on your Master Story Page. Google Docs is a good option or a simple Word doc…sure, you can handwrite them (I thought that crap was extinct).

When you write down a story, make the first sentence a quick description of the story and bold it like a headline. Something like this: The time I injected heroine in my chest and woke up in a cemetery…No, I’m not psychic, who hasn’t done that? The bold headings will help in the future when you sift through them. Then, below the bold, write down what happened—the who, what, when, where, why, and what the hell were you thinkin’.

Don’t filter yourself. Just write them down. And don’t try to come up with a lesson for these stories…yet, okay Dr. Suess? Just write…them…down. Next week we’re going to talk about how to purpose your story into something meaningful.

For now you just need to wander down memory lane and feed your story archive. You don’t need anything but your own life to pull from. I can’t stress this enough: It’s your unique stories and perspective which are going to make you interesting to listen to. A good story can make even the worst delivery bearable. Who doesn’t like a good story anyway?

This is just the beginning, but it’s essential for coming up with worthy topics to share information with your audience.

Stay tuned. Next week will be all about coming up with a purpose for your random stories.  


P.S. A really, really cool story you could add to your Master Story Page is that time you grabbed a copy of my new book. Remember that? Oh, you haven’t done it yet you say? Well then, make it come to pass 🙂



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matt kramer - tactical talks - public speaking