Monday, January 26, 2015

Flops & Failures

Just when you think you’ve got it all together… failure sneaks up on you.

Just when you think you’ve got your nerves conquered… they ambush you and beat you up.

For four years now I’ve been coaching you, speakers who are growing your communication skills. I’ve written articles about overcoming your nerves, talked clients and friends off the ledge, and had countless conversations with my music major son about performance anxiety.

And most of the time, I’m not so nervous anymore.

Until yesterday.

Late last week, my worship pastor asked me to do the greeting at my church. Easy peasy. I’ve done it before, and it’s two minutes on stage telling everybody you’re glad they’re there, making a couple of announcements, and asking people to greet each other. No big deal. I’m a professional speaker. This is what I do, so I was happy my church staff felt free to ask me.

I launched into planning… my cute outfit. The other was going to be easy, so my outfit seemed like the most important aspect of preparation.

And it was all fine until we started singing. I was going to follow the first song, and I should have been fine. But I wasn’t. My heart was pounding. My breathing became labored gasps. My hands were dripping.

What in the world?

I wish I could tell you I pulled it together and overcame. But I didn’t. It was awful. I was a mess.  I’ll leave the details to your imagination.

Our church has three services, so I still had two to go. I retreated to the silence of the library to lick my hurt pride and reflect.

Here’s the thing. I really didn’t want to write this today because my mind keeps saying, “Are you CRAZY?! Don’t confess this. No one will ever hire your again. How can anyone trust you to help them if you can’t even help yourself?”

But my heart wants to share with you because I learned/re-learned some important lessons yesterday. Since I think the heart lessons are the most important thing even if some of you count me out as pitiful :), here I am baring my soul.

As I sat in the library and prayed, I asked God, “What happened? What went wrong?” He gently showed me:

  • I moved into this assignment in my own confidence. I had an “I’ve got this” attitude.
  • I saw it as a small assignment. (Small but not insignificant. I LOVE my church!)
  • I spent more time on my outfit than on my knees.
  • I was worried about proving myself. My pastor was in the room for the first time when I spoke from the stage. I think very highly of him, and I wanted to impress him. (ps. This is entirely my issue, not a reflection on who he is.)

So what did I learn?

  • My confidence is to be in Christ alone. I know that confidence is important for anything we do, but focus on self is one of my particular areas of sinfulness and weakness. Self-righteousness. Self-confidence. Self-ishness. God didn’t cause my flop, but He definitely has used it to renew a sense of dependence on Him and a deep knowledge that my only lasting confidence flows from Him.
  • There is no small assignment. I need to approach every opportunity as important and sacred since I’m trusting God to open every door.
  • Prayer is essential. As I’ve often quoted–It’s not just preparation for the work. It is the work.
  • The best lesson for messed up motives is from scripture: “And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.” (Col. 3:17)

col. 3

So there it is. Up through last night, I really just wanted to throw in the towel, but quitting isn’t an option. We’re called, friends, so we’ve just got to fail, learn, and move forward. I’ve been speaking for 10 years. I’ve spoken to large crowds and small groups. I’ve loved it all, but I can’t forget the simple lessons. God is the source. Motives are everything.

Amy

 

 

 

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Monday, January 19, 2015

Speaker Wow

This is a season of multi-tasking. With the release of my first book, Breaking Up with Perfect, next summer, I’ve added editing and marketing to my other tasks.One of the items on my to-do list for a long time has been to finish Michael Hyatt’s Platformso I thought I’d do a series sharing how I’m processing his insights in relation to speaking ministry. How about buying the book or picking up your copy, and let’s read together!

In the first few chapters, Hyatt discusses the need to not just meet expectations with our product (our speaking) but to exceed expectations. He calls it “Baking in the WOW.”

wow

Hyatt says, “Being successfull means becomeing the expert in recognizing wow when it shows up. More importantly, it means being able to recognize it when it is absent–and insisting that you ask yourself to deliver it.”

As a speaker, I’ve thought a lot about how to add WOW to both the experience an event planner has with me as well as at the event itself. Many of these ideas come from our Proverbs 31 team, and it’s been a pleasure implementing them.

For event planners…

1. Quick response– I make it a policy to get in touch with event planners within 24 hours of the confirmation of a contract from our office. You may be doing first contacts yourself, but the 24 hour rule is still a good one. Since the first conversation is pretty lengthy and detailed, I usually send an email first telling how excited I am about the event and scheduling our first phone meeting.

2. Listening & a partnership mentality– The thing I say to an event planner is, “Tell me about your event. I want to hear about your hopes and dreams for the outcome.” I used to launch in with my own set of questions, but I’ve learned that listening first is important. I want the event planner to know that I’m coming alongside, but I want to follow her leadership. I also want her to know that I’m a partner in implementing her vision, not just a speaker who is going to show up, take the stage, do her thing, and leave.

3. Availability–When we finish the first conversation, I double check to see if the event planner has my email and phone number. I tell her that I’m available to her any time and that she can communicate with me in the way that works best for her. You’d be shocked at how many stories I hear at this point about diva-ish behavior from speakers. It’s just tragic to think that any of us who call ourselves Christian speakers would behave in a way that Jesus never would.

4. Individualization– I make short, very amateur (but enthusiastic!) videos with my iPhone for each event and send it to event planners. It tells a potential attendee how excited I am to be with her and how it won’t be the same if she’s not there. I know I love to see a face and hear a voice before I register for an event, so I hope my little videos help event planners with their registration. Planners can produce these for church services or use them “as-is” on their Facebook page.

For events…

5. Pre-Prayer– A couple of years ago, my precious friend Wendy Blight challenged me to begin praying for each attendee by name before an event. I can’t describe the powerful difference this practice has made in my events. I feel bonded to the individual women there before I even arrive, and I sense that God is working in the quiet time before an event to prepare each heart.

6. Arriving early– I remember an event at my church years ago when the speaker arrived long after her scheduled arrival, rushed in, insisted on prioritizing her book table, and missed the time praying with our group before she stood to speak. That made quite an impression on me. I never want to do that to a group of women. I tend toward being at events overly early. I want to make sure I have time to greet and meet all the leaders and set-up team when I arrive as well as being done setting up my book table and praying with the group before the first attendee arrives. Arrival/registration time for the attendees is when I float around and great women as they arrive–another way to start your speaking time with lots of faces smiling at you. :)

7. Fresh passion– Although I re-use messages, I almost always do some degree of rewriting for an event. I don’t take the message out of a folder, stick it in a notebook, and deliver it. I spend time with the scripture again, asking God to speak to my heart all over. Often I have new stories or fresh lessons to share in an old message. This practice allows me to hear God’s voice for each group even if I haven’t written a new message top to bottom. It also keeps me excited and engaged in my messages.

8. Availability– As long as I’m at the event location, I’m available to the women at the event to talk and/or pray. One event planner asked me, “Will you be available during the retreat? Will you eat with our women, or do you spend your extra time in your room?” I was stunned by the question. After I explained that I think the best ministry happens when I’m off stage, she told me about a speaker they’d had the year before who they only saw when she was on stage. After sessions, she’d retreat to her room, and she ate her meals in her room. Ugh! Y’all! We’re there to serve, serve, serve.

9. Appreciation– After each event, part of my wrap-up at home is to hand-write a thank you note to the event planner. I end by saying I’d love to serve them any way I can in the future. This allows me to open the door for referrals for other speakers too.

Creating WOW for an event planner means that you’ll often be asked back or that your name will be passed to her peers. Creating WOW for an event means that your words will be used to make a difference in someone’s life. But creating WOW isn’t just for everyone else.

I hope this series will be a place where your juices start flowing! Will you share? How do you create WOW for your event planners and events?

Amy

 

 

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Monday, January 12, 2015

Taking the Next Step

I’ve got a special treat at the end of the video, so please take a few minutes to watch. :) If you are a subscriber, you can click here to see the video.

I hope hearing my voice and seeing my face helps you decide to try Next Step. As you can see, I’m not scary at all! I’m an encourager at heart walking the journey with you.

Remember, to activate your offer, just fill out the Request Information form before midnight, Wednesday, Jan. 14th!

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