If you boil down how you show up, you are never going to run out of things to say and share with your audience. When you know your themes, you’ll never be stuck again!
As speakers, authors and coaches, it’s easy to be creative ‘when the muse strikes’. But consistently showing up demands more of us. Being a presence on ‘social’ and showing up even when we have not had the presence of inspiration with us is necessary and demanded. How do you ensure you always have something ready to publish?
You have to identify your ‘themes’.
They are the supporting cast to your core messages. They are birthed from your ‘why’, and are the things that make sense for you to talk about all the time, to give people a sense of who you are and what you stand for. And the great thing about this, is that once you’ve identified your themes, you’ll have a guide for all your communications, and no excuses for showing up, ever again.
Your themes are the notes, ideas, points, lessons, implications, metaphors, images or models accompany or come from your core messages. We’ve said this before in a ‘sister’ blog to this one. Knowing your themes helps people to know, like and trust you. They are the elaboration of your key messages. They are the areas around which you can talk with expertise and certainty, because they are cornerstones of your reason for being. But you have to identify those things, because there are days on which you forget what you stand for, and don’t even feel worthy of getting out of bed, never mind inspiring others to action with your words, spoken or written. Yet as a speaker, author or coach, that’s what your profession demands of you.
Why develop themes?
If you are not yet sold on this idea and task, let us share some of the things that having themes have done for ourselves and our clients:
- It makes it easier to create a following of like minded people
- People (your audience) buy into and understand your core messages more
- They create interaction and engagement — they provoke / promote conversation
- They give you something to talk about that allows you to be consistent
- They give you a way to stay present with ease
- They allow you to make it easy to ‘plan your presence’
- They help people to share what you do and who you are with others
- They open conversations
- They mean you always have something to talk about that is ‘on topic’
- The speed up creation and create efficiency in your business
We know there are many more, but these should be good enough for you to not just read this, but bookmark it and come back to it a few times over!
How to discover your Themes:
Here are some ideas to help you extract or expand on your themes so you never run out of content. The best thing to do is to brainstorm each area set out below and identify: what do you teach, what do you say, what do you believe? The following perspectives will draw out the things you want to talk about over and over:
- Examine your beliefs about your core subject area — why is it so important for you to share about this topic?
- Explore the principles around your subject area — what are YOUR theories?
- Research about your area / context — what do others say, what are others’ opinions and stand points and position? NB — if you don’t have one: TAKE one — don’t be marmite!)
- Look at your assumptions — most of the time we know our stuff so well that we forget we are introducing an area to people
- Identify results you create with your work — what is the impact of your advice, support?
- What problems do your avatars incur?
- What tech tips, delivery advice, helpful hints will make their world better
- What do you rant about / what gets you mad, annoyed
- Ask others what you constant talk about!
If you’ve done this exercise right you’ll by now have at least 20 things that are loosely arranged under certain categories. And all of them are likely to relate back to your 3 core messages. We call it what you want to be ‘known for and seen as’. Once you’ve identified these talking points, these tangible outcomes, you can start to hone your content into just talking about them. Now you’ll never be ‘off topic’ again — and that level of creativity is the key to staying consistent.
An example: Our 3 core messages — with ‘themes’ added
At Speaker Insight, when we initially started out, there were three driving messages. We did the work and it’s made all the difference in all that we say and create. Including this blog. It’s ‘on purpose’ for us to share about things like this because at it’s essence this is who we are. All of our content comes back to these three over and over again; in talks, FB Lives, as podcast guests, posts in our groups and on our feeds, even in the responses and recognition by others.
Here are our Core Messages, with themes added so you can get a sense of yours more easily:
“We help you to stand out whilst earning predictable consistent income”
“We’ve been both sides — the industry professionals and the author, speaker, coach and we help you run a strategic business rather than just a bunch of tactics joined with sticky tape”
“We help you build a business that makes a difference and money, ON YOUR TERMS. Not a cookie cutter approach”
THEMES then, are the things you talk about AROUND your core messages — the things that help people understand more about what you stand for and allows you to engage and interact with people. They are the things you can have conversations (verbal and written) about, whenever and wherever. The are wide enough for anyone to understand, but they also speak directly to the heart of the potential customers you have. Again to give you some context around this. For us, those themes have emerged from us listening to ourselves and others.
To give you some idea of how this works in practice, here are some of the themes (extracted from the core messages) we talk about ALL THE TIME. We’ve also included why they matter to us and our avatar, so you can replicate this exercise for yourself:
o Be a changemaker (you can change the world by sharing your ideas)
o Avatar avatar avatar (who is your audience!?)
o Stand out your way (your style, be you, you at the heart of things)
o Put good foundations in your business (so you can change the world)
o Yin-Yang — you need inner confidence AND external strategy
o Connections are key (collaboration & support grow an expert business)
o Positioning & Branding (you ARE the brand, you need to position yourself)
o Resources that support you in standing out:
- Stories / illustrations / examples of other who stand out
- Introductions to people who can help (agents, publishers etc)
- How to get noticed
o Earning predictable consistent income
- How to organise your business / Business basics
- Multiple income streams
- How to build an audience
o Be strategic (ways to be and think strategically)
o Interviews with people in our little black book
o What not to do or focus on — the distractions that kill your business
o Strategic Shortcuts to success
o You are at the heart of everything
o You can build your brand around you message
o Examples of people who are making a difference
o Shared content by others (e.g. TED talks etc)
o How to find your purpose
o Vision and how to make it work for you
o ON YOUR TERMS™ — how to use time, energy, resources money and skills effectively and efficiently
For those of you who have been in our world for a while, we are sure you can see that this is pretty much ALL we talk about. Because it’s what we care about, and it’s what our avatar cares about too. Maybe not in the same way as us, but it’s what they are interested in, and THAT is the key to showing up consistently, and always having something relevant to say that may just attract someone into our world. And THAT gives you the chance, the opportunity to really make a difference to them.
Once you have your themes, put them to work! Use them in your content creation, as part of your pitching, networking and talks. Use them to create products, and to help others understand just how useful or helpful you can be!
Doing the work (and letting your themes evolve over time) is valuable for one core reason: you will never be a stuck creative again. There is no such thing as a blank taunting page or a blinking cursor again. Here are some ways you’ll end up using your themes:
- To let people to know YOU — your style, your personality, your beliefs, and what you are passionate about
- To build a portfolio of information that people can use to evaluate you as a right fit for them — whether that’s your speaker show reel, your website, your FB lives, or just the comments you make — people will resonate with your point of view
- It’s also a way for others to share your ethos, your concepts and your movement with the world.
- To build a community that likes what you have to say and the people who like that
- To attract people to you — who eventually can’t help but buy from you.
Your content speaks FOR you; so what is yours saying about you?
Take the time out to identify your Key Messages, and the themes that sit underneath them. You’ll save yourself hours of stress and creative angst. Your action should you choose it, is to identify 12- 16 themes that sit under those Messages. We’re sure you’d love to share yours, so join us inside The Connection Hub, the group we have specifically for speakers, authors and coaching who want expert support and connections to grow their business.Speaker INsight
We support speakers, authors & coaches to monetise their message, market their purpose and create & manage their portfolio business, ON THEIR TERMS™.