It's amazing how many times people ask me, "Where do you get the ideas for your Speaking Tips?"

It rather strikes me as the same as my asking an accountant, "How do you know what to tell your client about his income tax?" Or a doctor, "How do you know what to tell your patient about his illness?" Whatever your profession, you've spent time and effort, not to mention money, to become knowledgeable and experienced. You've acquired a bank of information that you can draw on as needed to help your clients.

Armed with that basic learning, you've become an expert in these areas, and you have enough knowledge at your fingertips to help them solve their difficulties. They might, in the process, present you with specific problems that you may not have previously encountered, which are unique to that particular client or universal to many. Every time you work with someone who comes up with a situation you may not have previously faced, you gain more knowledge, more experience, and more information to add to your arsenal of professional competence.

So when you're asked to speak about your profession, at a formal gathering or an informal meeting, you'll have at your fingertips the ideas and information you need to talk knowledgeably for 30 minutes or so on a subject that will be of interest to the audience that invited you.

It's the same for me as a speaker's coach and speechwriter. Whenever I sit down to write a Speaking Tip, I go through my memory bank and pull out the most interesting problems and dilemmas clients have asked me to help them solve. I take the gist of the solutions we came up with and create from them a universal Speaking Tip.

For example, if I've been working with a client who has difficulty talking loud enough to be heard, I'll create a Speaking Tip called "Speak to Be Heard" or "Are You Comfortable Hearing You?" or, going in a slightly different direction, "Saying Too Much vs. Saying Too Little." The ideas for these Speaking Tips come from real life situations faced by people who came to me for help.

Whenever you're called upon to speak about your business or profession, think about the professional situations in which you deal with real people with real difficulties. There's a wealth of ideas there that you can choose from. First, determine what your goal for the speech is, then choose from your real-life experience. It's almost like picking one from Column A and one from Column B on a Chinese menu.

Try this technique. Keep a "Subjects to Speak About" notebook. Every time you come upon a situation you haven't dealt with before, from which you learned something new that has universal applicability, make a note of it. Next time you need to give a talk, you'll have a number of subjects waiting for you in your notebook. You'll never have to worry about finding something to talk about again.