Today on BlogTalkRadio (every Tuesday at noon EST), we talked about how to find topics to speak about! You can listen to the show right here.
When you’ve been asked to speak, here are a couple of things to think about when it comes to choosing a topic. First, let’s assume that we’re talking about a one-time event, like a dinner, a breakfast, or an outreach, where you’re speaking for between half an hour and an hour.
1. Ask yourself: What has God been doing in my life?
Don’t try to only teach; you need to inspire. And to touch people’s hearts, you have to open up your own. So ask yourself what God has been talking to you about over the last few years. Where have you been struggling, seeking, asking? Those are the areas where you have the most passion and the most insight. Try to sum up the main message that God has been giving you in your own life, and chances are you can share this.
2. What are the areas where others are struggling?
If you can speak to people in the areas where they’re having trouble, you’re more likely to get through to them. Give a talk which explains Scripture and they will learn something. But if you want to change hearts, you don’t only want to teach. You want to encourage them to change and move to a deeper level with God. For that, they need to see their need to change. So try to speak to an area where people are likely to be struggling. For instance, last weekend I spoke to a group of women, primarily middle aged. I decided to speak about “Redeeming the Time”, since one thing that women in general tend to be worried about is being so busy.
So think about the group you are addressing. What are the issues they face? What are they stressed about? Speak into their area of need, and show how God provides an answer.
3. Ask yourself, what is the take-it-home point?
Let’s move now to speaking at a retreat. Especially when you’re doing a retreat, when you’ll be speaking for more than just one talk, you need to think: what do I want people to walk away with? People, in general, will only remember one main thing, so make sure that you know what that one main thing is. What is the main message you’re giving?
Our tendency when we’re speaking 2-4 times over a weekend is to start with a big Scripture passage. We think what Scripture we want to share, and then we build our message around that. I think that’s going about it backwards.
What often happens when we pick the Scripture first is that we build our message trying to illuminate all the things to learn from that passage. We think we need to delve into everything and give a big commentary. But that isn’t really what changes lives.
It’s better to find your takeaway point, and then ask God to show you what passages speak best to that. Teach from those passages. Go into detail with them. Make them come alive! Retell the story in a more modern context. Help people to see it and live it. Even if it’s an epistle passage, explain how Paul, Peter, or John must have lived this out. But remember that your main point is the takeaway point, and make sure that everything points to that. If there’s something interesting in the passage, but it doesn’t point to that takeaway point, leave it out of your talk.
So, in summary, when you’re choosing something to talk about, look to your own life. Talk about things you’re passionate about, where God has been working! Think about what people you’re speaking to are dealing with. And think about your take-away point. Once you figure that out, the Scripture will come to you, and it will fit perfectly. I’m always amazed at the Scriptures that God brings to my mind in my devotions and in my prayer time that speak and teach exactly on the point that I think women need to hear.
I hope that helps! If you want to listen, the show again is right here. I spoke for an hour on this topic, and this is only a synopsis!
And if you want to go even deeper, my teleseminar, Crafting a Life Changing Signature Talk, takes you step by step through how to plan a talk, including how to use anecdotes, where and how to incorporate Scripture, and how to open your talk. Find it here!
Have any good ideas for my BlogTalkRadio show? Any burning questions you want answered? Leave a comment, and maybe I can make it the subject of a show!