There are a couple of ways to identify a topic. The first is to look at the things you do or talk about on a daily basis. Years ago, Allison found herself mentoring many Scrum Masters and realized they didn’t think of themselves as the coach of their teams—a talk was born! The talk nearly wrote itself as she thought about what had resonated with the Scrum Masters she mentored and what had helped her on her own agile journey. Creating a talk or workshop based on your everyday experiences gives you the added benefit of knowing what your target audience might be like.
Another approach to creating a talk is to share your journey—how you transitioned from one role to another, what it was like working on that impossible project, or when you tried something different in how you work. People love learning from the experiences of others. Some of the most beneficial talks we’ve heard shared not only what was successful but also the challenges and failures along the way. Your story can help others realize they are not alone—we stand on the shoulders of giants and get better as we are exposed to new and different ideas.
A third way to identify a topic is to consider what you’re interested in learning more about and practicing more intentionally. Whether it’s a new technology or a soft skill or something else entirely, talking about a topic can further your learning around it. In creating a talk, you’ll find yourself doing research, chatting about it with peers, thinking about it, and making a real effort to understand it well enough to teach it to others. At Improving, we’ve seen this with our mission around trust. The more we talk about trust, the more intentional we are in our behaviors to build trust. We notice how trust is being built, broken, and repaired where we might not have thought about it before. By putting a focus on a topic, it becomes more present in our lives.
A small group discusses an exercise during Allison's recent talk at The Agile Shift Conference in Houston.