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Four Questions to Help You Uncover Your Keynote Topic

When you take the stage, choose a topic you are uniquely qualified to address

I believe everyone has a topic they are uniquely qualified to speak about—and chances are, you are closer to it than you realize. You will find it somewhere at the intersection of four elements:

1. Unique Ability. “I am really good at…”

2. Passion. “The thing that makes my life and work meaningful is…”

3. Experience, knowledge and skill. “Professionally, I am most qualified to speak about…”

4. Life lessons. “My defining experiences are…”

Connecting with lessons from our joys and losses

The fourth element of life lessons is connected to the wisdom gained from both joy and loss. Reflect on the defining experiences in your life by responding to these prompts and notice if one carries heat for you:

• A tough obstacle I’ve had to overcome and what I learned as a result:

• A fabulous win or so-called failure that taught me an invaluable lesson:

• Someone who had a positive impact on my life and what I learned:

Case study: Nader Elguindi

Each of us has experienced life in a way that deepens the insights we can offer others. I once coached an entrepreneur, Nader Elguindi, who lost a leg during his service in the military. His friends were aware of this but in business, he concealed his prosthetic leg under long trousers. Other than a slight limp you wouldn’t know he wore one.

His instinct was to keep this part of his story to himself and speak only to his business experience. He didn’t want people to think he was telling a “sob story.” But it was this very experience that made his voice unique. It turned out that sharing this part of his story increased the connections he made as a human being and an entrepreneur who survived the first wave of the technology boom.

Today, Nader is an author and a speaker on the topic of courage and perseverance.

No perfect recipe for uncovering your keynote topic

There is no perfect recipe to land your topic but this work will help you in the search. Identifying that topic (whether you ever speak formally or not) requires that you uncover your voice and the value you bring to larger conversation of life.

When you do, we’ll all be better for it.

Your Guide to Authentic Speaking and Presenting is packed with rich material and innovative tips to help you become the communicator you were meant to be…and it’s FREE! Just click the download button.

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Lou Solomon

Lou Solomon is the founder of Interact. She is a TEDx speaker and a member of the adjunct faculty at the McColl School of Business at Queens University of Charlotte. Her articles have appeared in Harvard Business Review,,, and Fast Company.