Monday, August 25, 2014

Fall Jump-Start: Week 4 Q & A

Today is the last Q & A for this round, but please remember I always love getting your questions. Although time constraints keep me from answering questions individually by email, I’m always happy to answer them for the whole speaker girl community on the blog. You can leave your question in the comments or email them to me at amy@proverbs31.org.

Next week I’ll start a series on speaker fees which many people have asked about. Stay tuned! Here’s this week’s question:

“How do you juggle feedback? The 1st time I spoke, several people said different parts of my talk were meaningful, and someone asked me to speak at their next event. The 2nd time I spoke, it was the same thing. I spoke with different women that had specific comments, and the area MOPS leader was there. She gave me her card asked me to please be sure I registered with them so that other groups could find me. The 3rd time someone said I was “fun” and that’s about the only comment. I want to improve without getting caught up in pleasing/idolizing man.” ~Julie

Wow. Receiving feedback is a hard topic. I’ve received the whole spectrum of responses after an event–everything from lavish praise, to tears, to crickets. (I never did figure out the dead silence after that one event, but it was horrifying! The event coordinator wrote me a nice note, but I think I stepped over some theological line or something.)

Every church and group has their own subculture, so sometimes the feedback is simply consistent with that culture. For example, Suzie Eller and I just did an event together and discussed this very topic. Both of us have spoken before in very stoic, non-responsive cultures where we felt like a flop but learned afterward that we had made an impact. For a girl from the exceptionally responsive Bible Belt culture, that’s tough.

Here’s the response I want. I want women to approach me and tell me how my message spoke specifically into their hearts and lives. Although it’s nice to hear, “You’re a great speaker,” it’s not the response I’m looking for. I want to know I’ve crafted a message in such a way that it’s life-changing. Transformation is what fuels me, and it’s what I think makes a great speaker.

Criticism is a whole other thing. Two of my friends on the Proverbs speaker team who I consider outstanding speakers have told me of instances where the event planner actually criticized the message and/or response. I think we all need to be prepared to respond humbly to criticism while not letting it crush us. In the case of criticism, it’s important to be able to answer “yes” to these questions:

  • Did I seek God diligently about this event and my message?
  • Did I take the time before the event to be fully prepared?
  • Did I get the information I needed from the event planner to know my audience?

If the answer to all of these is “yes”, then I think we can rest with a clear conscience. Sometimes there are other issues that don’t have anything to do with us or issues outside of our knowledge with the group. All we can do is be faithful to pray and prepare.

Here’s another link to a devotion I wrote about feedback called “The Opinion Blender”.

Opinion-Blender

Any thoughts from you in our community about handling and growing from feedback?

Amy

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Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Fall Jump-Start: Week 3 Q & A

Here’s a review and a glimpse of things to come…

I’m doing a Fall Jump-Start series with Q & A. Click on the links to read week 1 and week 2. Today there’s a ministry-related business question and a couple of questions every one of us has wondered about but hasn’t dared to ask!

Next week I’ll finish up the Q & A, and there will be a series on fees and the business of ministry in September.

Here we go…!

I had lunch with a girlfriend a few weeks ago and was telling her about the speaking ministry that God had laid on my heart. She then asked me a question that I had no clue about answering. She said, “Are you going to incorporate or become an LLC?” Since I hadn’t planned on charging any type of speaking fee as I was getting the speaking ministry up off the ground, I hadn’t even thought about that. ~Kate

I want to start with a disclaimer. These thoughts are based on my very limited knowledge. I’ll give you some food for thought, but it’s very important to consult your tax advisor and possibly a lawyer before you make a final decision.

Of the speakers I know, there are basically two ways to make yourself “official” in the governments eyes. For years, my husband did our taxes, and he simply reported my earnings as one who was self-employed. When I started speaking more and then started Next Step, things became more complicated. I needed a separate bank account for Next Step, so I went to the bank inquiring about how to start a business account. I was informed that I needed to either apply for a Sole Proprietorship or an LLC. The LLC requires payment of a yearly fee, but I chose that option because it offers immunity to my family’s personal finances in the event of a lawsuit.

(Just in case any of you think about suing me for bad advice in this blog, I’m just telling you ahead…blood from a turnip!)

It’s just my two cents, but I don’t think you need to establish anything official until you start charging fees. At that point, it’s great to start being business minded about your speaking ministry. A separate checking account for your speaking ministry serves as a reminder to keep track of any expenses and income. You’ll be happy you kept up all year when tax time rolls around again!

Although you can hire a lawyer for the LLC process, I’ve done it all myself, and I’ve found it to be easy in NC. We have hired someone to do our taxes since they’re more complicated, and she has saved us money. The LLC doesn’t change my tax status at all, and my CPA reports all my earnings and deductions as self-employed (as I understand it!).

The other option is to apply to be a non-profit. Most of those who I know who have taken this option are building a whole ministry rather than just speaking independently. Becoming a non-profit is much more complex, and you will probably need the counsel of a lawyer and/or CPA. The benefit, however, is that you can begin to raise money through donations.

That’s really all I have to offer on the topic, but I hope it helps. Any words of wisdom from those of you who have chosen one of these options?

My questions are strange but I would love to hear what you and other speakers have to say. First, which deodorant works best for a sweaty speaker? I sweat so much when I speak and have learned to dress “cool” no matter the weather outside. I’d love a good deodorant recommendation.  And second, what’s the best way to avoid the numerous “pre-speak pees”? Seriously, tmi, but I could use the bathroom 5 times in the hour before I speak. Nerves? I don’t feel nervous, but apparently my bladder gets that message. Any ideas?

Sorry for the personal questions, but they are real issues for me! ~Jennifer

What is it about the topics of sweat and pee that turns us back into giggling middle-schoolers? I know that was my reaction, but these subjects are no joke! :)

The other day a friend of mine was describing her physical reaction to an emotional stress as “pitted out”! Though the term is funny, it’s not funny when you’re the one who’s pitted out in front of a crowd.

On the Today show the other morning, I saw Secret Clinical rated as the top deodorant for women. Anybody else have experience with this issue and a recommendation?

Sweat isn’t so much my issue, but pee definitely is. (So wrong on so many levels.) Not only do I have a weakening 46 year old + bladder with the added stress of 2 births, needing to go is one of the symptoms when I’m nervous.

After one event where I nearly fainted from dehydration, I’ve decided pre-event fluid fasts are not the solution. Plus, dry mouth is unfortunately another symptom of my nerves.

Mostly my solution is to ignore my bladder’s faulty signals. I take a potty break about 15 minutes before my introduction, and then I just don’t listen to the spasms. Since the urge ends a few minutes into my message, scheduling and ignoring works for me.

Anybody else want to weigh in on the pee predicament?

Amy

ps. Please come back next week. That’s the end of the pee conversation. :)

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Monday, August 11, 2014

Fall Jump-Start: Q & A Week 2

I hope last week’s Q & A was helpful. Here’s another great question!

My mind tends to go blank standing in front of crowds or even in front of a camera speaking so I always need my things written out in front of me. How can I push past to be a more confident speaker that remembers what I wanted to say? ~Sarah

I had a similar question from a former client about how I organize my notes, and another similar situation with a client who wants to lean on her notes less and make more eye contact.

Here are some ideas about creating notes you can use and internalizing your message:

  • Create messages around one idea or a “sticky statement”. Click here  to read more about sticky statements. Before I started using this method, I created highly complex messages with lots of points and too much information. I couldn’t begin to memorize all my information, so why did I think my audience would be able to take away transforming points? I’ve become a HUGE proponent of the one point message both for speakers and for their audiences.
  • Format your notes in a way that works for you. I do a loose version of an outline. My friend Lynn Cowell manuscripts her message and then takes a mind map on stage. Lysa TerKeurst puts sticky notes with her main points in her Bible. Another friend only feels comfortable with her manuscript near her, but she highlights main points so she doesn’t end up reading it. There’s not a one-size-fits-all for notes. Just find the way that feels comfortable for you.
  • Practice, practice, practice. This is the part I like the least, but it’s something that’s been very helpful as I continue to raise the bar for myself to lean on my notes less. Practice your message as you’re getting ready in the morning. In the shower. In the car. Practice it one full time in front of a mirror. All of this practice helps you to internalize your message so you can deliver it naturally. It’s also terrific for double-checking that you’re within your given time. I don’t memorize my messages word for word, but always knowing where I’m going next gives me confidence and lets me focus on my audience.

Amy

Tomorrow evening is Lysa TerKeurst’s FREE webcast for The Best Yes. Make sure to catch it! Here’s the link: http://lysaterkeurst.com/

Webcast Graphic[6]

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