July 1st, 2019
I have often said that what it takes to become a sought-after speaker, or even a speaker who regularly speaks on stages, you need three things. You have to be a relentless networker (in other words, tell everyone you know you’re a speaker), pitch like crazy (in other words, make big, scary asks), and deliver EPIC CONTENT.
“YOU HAVE TO HAVE EPIC CONTENT!” says every content-creating guru (or guru-wanna-be) out there.
In a LinkedIn post a couple of months ago, I shared the three essential cornerstones for getting booked to speak — which includes creating EPIC content. In response, a reader asked “Everyone’s always talking about epic content, but what is epic content anyway? How do you create it?”
Epic is a big word.
Or it’s a little word with a big punch.
The Odyssey and The Iliad are epic poems, which means they “extend beyond the ordinary in a timeless way.” (You want your talks to do *that,* right?)
The internet (and those of us who use it) loves to co-opt big words so we can all start using them in a watered-down, slightly obscured kind of way.
(I went backpacking this weekend, and I gotta say, the wildflowers were EPIC. That hailstorm on the 4th of July? EPIC! I left my sunglasses in a friend’s car and had to go backpacking without them. EPIC FAIL. I found a $100 bill while riding my bike home. EPIC WIN!)
Kinda like that. 🙂
I realized I had fallen into the hole of big words that the internet takes over, and started to think about what epic content really is.
Here’s what I came up with:
Let’s face it. Everything’s pretty much been said. All stories have already been told. I teach the universal shape of all stories, and pretty much all stories are a new version of the same old story.
The secret to making each story a new story is DETAIL. SPECIFICS.
The more you dive into the specifics of your story, the more it becomes uniquely your own story and the more universal it becomes. (I know. It’s kind of a conundrum — the more details make it more universal. Funny the way that works.)
The DETAILS of your story make it a story that’s never been told. No one else can tell that story. NO ONE.
So when you’re telling your story, dive into the nitty gritty details of the moment. Go into the particulars of the moment. The smells and tastes and quirky neurotic thoughts you were having.
Rather than talking about ALL THE DAYS, talk about ONE DAY in particular.
Tell me about the sound of the rain. Tell me about the feeling in your cheeks when you said that thing you wish you hadn’t said.
Those details will make it a new story, and put you on the road to EPIC.
Not fluff. The real deal.
You kinda have to give it all away. When you give it all away, believe it or not your listener will want more.
Give such snap-cracking value that you make your listener think “I’m getting this for FREE?!”
But it’s a fine line between giving it all away and overwhelm: you want your audience to leave wanting more, rather than leave swamped with too much to think about.
So giving it all away doesn’t mean throwing every single idea you’ve ever had at your audience.
It means knowing who they are, what they care about, and what one thing will set them on the path to profound transformation.
THAT’S value. THAT’s epic.
EPIC CONTENT solves an old problem in an uncommon way.
There are a million (gazillion?) people out there trying to solve the same problem you’re solving.
So how in the world are you gonna stand out? How will you set yourself apart?
You gotta come in through the back door. Or the window. Show me a new way. Even though nothing is new, say it differently. Make it new.
The thing that makes your idea different is YOU. Tell us what your quirky, neurotic, heartbroken, slightly strange, a little bit boring self KNOWS in your BONES about how to solve the same old problem just a little bit differently.
EPIC CONTENT has heart.
Heart, baby. Heart.
Show me some heart.
Yes. Like that.
EPIC CONTENT is TRUE.
You’ve got research and experience to back it up. No BS. No lying.
Use real-world data from real-world experiences.
Research doesn’t have to be numbers and data (though it could be).
In my TEDx talk, “The stories that live in our bodies,” some of the research I share is data from my own life of living in the world in a body of a woman.
Research could be what you know from living your life. From working with clients. From what you see every day at the coffee shop.
Just ground whatever big idea you’re talking about in real life data, real life experiences.
Tell it like it is, and then some.
EPIC CONTENT is risky. So when you’re creating your content, take a risk.
That thing you thought you couldn’t say? Say it.
Yes it might be scary and uncomfortable, and someone might judge you, and someone might unfollow you, and someone might talk smack about you, but someone will lean in and say “I want what she’s having.”
Someone will say “Thank you for telling your story. I needed to hear that today.”
Someone will say “The moment you told THAT story, I knew I had to hire you.”
Saying the hard stuff is hard for a reason. It’s also what makes it powerful and necessary.
And what makes it epic.
Work with those 6 ideas and you’ll be on the road to epic.
All that said, though, only your audience gets to say whether or not your content is epic. You don’t really get to decide.
You just have to keep speaking your truth, keep telling your stories, keep walking your own edge, and keep showing up.
If someone thinks your content is epic, then hallelujah. If not, then you just keep shining your light.
Comment below and tell me how you know you’re in the presence of epic content. Also, if you want more epic content, be sure to connect with me on LinkedIn or Instagram, or grab your guide to the How to tell stories that attract clients and make bigger impact HERE.