Somehow it still surprises me when a client or colleague with an active professional and personal life asks with a touch of anxiety: “What will I write about next?” or “What does that audience want to hear about from me?” After a few questions, we usually have no difficulty discovering a rich list of worthy potential topics. It’s a useful technique to remember, in addition to other techniques for beating writer’s block and speaker’s freeze. Here’s how to interview yourself to capture the perfect bubble of an idea for sharing with others.
Everything is Fair Game
It may seem ‘old hat’ to you, but to others it’s not. By adding perspective, or simply explaining a complex issue in everyday language, you can add significant value to the conversation in your industry.
What was my key takeaway from a recent trip?
Insights often come when you’re outside your usual routine and surroundings. Maybe the way a flight attendant did (or did not) handle a situation well reminds you of a similar situation in your company or industry. Perhaps you witnessed an environmental or social disaster in the process of happening. A trip of more than a few days can yield a series of blog posts and presentations.
What is the most interesting project I’m working on these days? WHY?
It’s not the specifics you need to share; it’s the why behind what makes it so interesting to you. Is it a specific type of challenge? Is it the team you’re working with, or the potential for positive impact on others if you get it right? Take a moment to explore the implications of why with your readers.
What’s the hot question or problem in my industry today?
Offer an answer if you’ve developed one, or simply discuss the issue if there is no clear answer developed yet. It will be your reflections or opinion that add value, rather than a simple recitation of the facts.
How is the national news affecting my readers?
As the media report the news faster and in ever-briefer sound bites, there is an opportunity to add perspective and insight. A recession, government policies, supply or price changes can each play out in very different ways in different industries and sectors. You can offer an informed insider’s view.
What did I do of note last week?
If you wrote a major article or made a presentation last week, reformat and recycle what you’ve already done. If it was an article, look at how you might make it into a presentation. If it was a presentation, convert it into a blog post and link to the presentation.
What questions are my customers asking?
Scan your email inbox and think back on recent meetings. If you’ve been asked the same question more than once by your customers, then you know you have a subject of interest to others.
You can probably guess which question led me to write this blog post….