Monday, November 24, 2014

Controlling Your Nerves–Part 3

Late one night, I got an email from Renee Swope.  “Are you still up?  Call me!”  Renee and her family had just gotten the exciting news that it was time to go get Aster, their daughter that they were adopting from Ethiopia.  Renee asked if I could cover one of her events in California, and I happily answered “yes”.

In the weeks before the event, I had several wonderful talks with the coordinator, prepared my messages and packed for CA with excitement.  Renee had warned me that it’s a fun trip but a hard trip.  “Friday night is especially hard,” she explained, “for a speaker when your body is screaming to go to bed about the time that you stand to speak.”

I felt the typical flutters as I was being introduced, but I square breathed through it as I stood to speak.  I can’t really tell you what happened after that.  Although I wasn’t nervous, I felt flat and tired.  I’m a big face reader (not always a good idea as you’ll see), so I scanned the crowd for engaged, smiling faces without finding one.  My funny stories got little patters of laughter, and I felt disconnected and unfocused.

I walked back to my room alone and in a panic.  I was failing.  I had failed the women at the event.  I had failed Renee.  I was failing God in my weekend assignment.  The night was one of tossing and turning, and then I dragged my tired body out of bed to pray at dawn.  As I walked down to the camp pond, I was overcome with discouragement and the heavy weight of responsibility.  How could I spend the rest of the weekend with these women?  I had blown the first impression, and I cried out to God to redeem the weekend.

In mid-plea, God’s firm but gentle voice rang through my head, “Amy if you will take your eyes off yourself and fix them on me…if you will fix your eyes on me and love the women here, it will all be ok.”

fail

In the silence of the morning with the rosy dawn painting the surface of the pond, my heart settled and rested.  God had given me something I could do, so I began to pray.  I praised God for who He is.  I thanked Him for the many good things that He had been doing.  I asked Him to pour His love for the women at the event into my heart.  Finally, I asked God to speak through me for the rest of the weekend–not for my sake but for the women there.

The breakfast bell rang, and as I walked into the bright cafeteria, women began to approach me.  One after another wanted to share what God had spoken to them through me the night before.  I couldn’t believe it!  I’m still not sure what happened or why I thought I had done so miserably.  Maybe the women had been as tired as I was.  Maybe it was just a less emotional group.  I really don’t know to this day.

What I do know is that God had used the situation to teach me the best tip yet about managing my nerves.  Focus on Him and love the women that I am speaking to.   Those things take my eyes off my own performance and settle me heart and nerves.

This wraps up our series on managing your nerves, but we’d still love to hear your tips.

This is the last blog post until the New Year. I’m taking a December blogging break, so I’d like to wish you a very merry Christmas!

Amy

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Monday, November 17, 2014

Controlling Your Nerves–Part 2

 

When I get nervous, I start to lose my breath which isn’t great for a speaker.

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Photo Credit

I want my audience to be at ease as I start, and a shaky voice just doesn’t do it.  I struggled for a long time with this problem until one day I heard a radio personality talk about a method called square breathing.

Although my nervousness has lessened with time and practice, I still feel the butterflies start during my introduction.  I’ve learned to embrace a little nervousness as a natural adrenaline rush that will help me open with energy, but I want to have a steady voice.  Square breathing has been the answer for me.  Here are the steps:

  • While counting to 4, inhale slowly through your nose.
  • Hold the breath for 4 slow counts.
  • Exhale slowly through your mouth while counting to 4.
  • Hold the breath for 4 slow counts.
  • Repeat 2-3 times.

I think this works for several reasons.  It makes me slow my breathing down which keeps me from hyperventilating.  It floods my body with oxygen which helps clear and sharpen my mind.  It also gives my brain something to do (counting) besides thinking about how nervous I am!

I hope this simple, practical tip will be helpful.  If you have any tips, please share them in the comments.

Amy

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Monday, November 10, 2014

Controlling Your Nerves–Part 1

 

I’ve been thinking a lot about this topic of controlling my nerves before I speak. While my nerves have settled over time (if you struggle, I promise it gets better with practice), they still flair up. If the setting is different, if there’s someone I esteem in the audience, or if I haven’t had time to prepare, I can still find myself overwhelmed with nervousness.

At She Speaks last summer, I felt fine on the stage in front of 400+ women, but I fell apart when I had to read introductions at the beginning of breakouts. Go figure!

Nerves can hit at the strangest times, but with a few tips, we can learn to manage them. This series is a “re-run”, but I thought it was a topic it would be useful to revisit. Today’s is fantastic advice from Lysa TerKeurst!

You have less than 5 seconds to make your first impression on an audience.  If those first 5 seconds are spend shuffling notes, grabbing the podium for dear life, and trying to catch your run away breath… your audience will start to feel as nervous as you do.

The best way I know to calm my nerves right away and set the audience at ease is to make the first words out of my mouth something I can say confidently and boldly without notes and without hesitation.  After just a few profound sentences that lead my audience to know the exact point of my message, I transition into a personal story that relates to my point.

Personal stories are great because you don’t need notes, your personality can shine through, and people are captivated by stories.  When you feel you have your audience captivated, your nerves will dissipate!  It’s amazing what confidence this builds in you and what connection it creates with the audience.

My only word of caution is to remember your transition from the end of your story back to the point of your message.  You don’t want to make it all the way down the field only to fumble at the goal line.  I have no idea why I just used a sports analogy, but it worked.

Happy speaking sweet friends!

lysaLysa TerKeurst is a New York Times bestselling author and speaker who helps everyday women live an adventure of faith through following Jesus Christ. As president of Proverbs 31 Ministries, Lysa has led thousands to make their walk with God an invigorating journey.

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Monday, November 3, 2014

Dream Big Dreams

I know from the comments that last week’s post on waiting resonated with many of you. In response, I want to give you a valuable resource. Last year, in the midst of one of my hardest waits ever, I read Holley Gerth’s book You’re Made for a God-Sized DreamIt both encouraged me and strengthened my resolve.

Here is a reprint of one of Holley’s blog posts that I pray will encourage you as you wait today.

God-sized Dream = a desire in your heart for more of what God has for you.

photo by horia varlan

Yesterday we kicked off our God-sized dreams journey together. It’s a new year and there’s so much in store for us. As I thought about what’s ahead, I couldn’t help thinking about what’s behind too.

We all have a back story.

You do.

I do too.

I don’t talk about mine much. But I thought as we get started together I should tell you a few things. Because it might be tempting to come here and think that the road to where I am now has been easy. Or that I have it all together. Or that all have my God-sized dreams have happened. But none of those are true.

In reality, I’ve struggled off an on with depression and social anxiety most of my life.

My husband and I have walked through many, many years of infertility and we have a baby in heaven.

God asked me to leave a job with people I loved and take a step of faith without having any idea what would happen. 

I still have days when I feel crazy and wonder what in the world I’m doing and the fear doesn’t just knock but BANGS on the door of my heart.

You see, God-sized dreams aren’t about being perfect. Or getting what we want. Or things working out the way we plan.

I can tell you this, on your God-sized dreams journey…

You will feel fear.

You will fail at some point.

And you may even find that you have to let a dream go.

But I can also tell you, on your God-sized dreams journey…

You will become more courageous.

You will have victories you never through possible.

And you will be filled up with what you really need, which is less of you and more of Jesus in your life.

God-sized dreaming isn’t for wimps.

But at the same time it’s really only for wimps.

Because we all are exactly that. We’re weak and broken and afraid. And we’re also strong and whole and filled with the resurrection power of Christ.

We are living paradoxes and nothing will show you that more than a God-sized dream.

If you’re looking at all this God-sized dreams stuff with a bit of skepticism can I just whisper,“It’s okay to feel that way. But dare to come with us anyway. Not because of where you will go but because of where this journey will take you…and that’s closer to the heart of God.”

Dare to turn the page on your back story.

It’s time for a new beginning.

**Reprinted with permission of Holley Gerth.

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Holley-pic-4-01

 

Holley Gerth is an author and coach who loves encouraging women. Please visit her wonderful blog for more about stoking the fires of your dream. This post is just the beginning of a series of amazing posts about God-sized dreams.

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Monday, October 27, 2014

What to Do While You Wait

The discouragement in my friend’s voice cracked my heart as I listened. “I just want to speak and write,” she said. “And I don’t know how to make that happen.”

I’ve been there.

And I’ll bet you have too. Here’s the thing… My friend is incredible. She really is. I love  reading every blog post she writes, and although I haven’t heard her speak yet, I already know she rocks the room. She’s a Jesus-loving girl who is incredibly smart and talented. She has a powerful message, and she’s dying to share it. Just like you, I’ll bet.

So what’s the problem?

I wish I could tell her. I want to give her a formula for how to create a breakthrough. If I had that formula, I’d give it to her and to you for free right this very minute.

But I don’t.

waiting pic Photo Credit

All I can tell you is that you’re not alone. I know waiting is hard because I’ve waited too. I’ve been passed over for the big event. I’ve received mailboxes full of rejection letters. I’ve felt the urge to do more and known I was capable of more, yet the doors stayed shut. It doesn’t feel good to wait, but there are some things that you should do while you wait. There are lots of things you don’t have control over to “make it happen”, but here are some areas you can control to make yourself ready when the doors start to swing open:

1. Make it all count. For years and years, I’ve written one blog post after another.  I’ve written a devotion a month for almost a decade. While I was doing the work, I saw each one as completely separate and (truthfully)not  as very valuable.

A friend who has published multiple books gave me great advice when I started writing my book (more info to come!). She told me to take my chapter descriptions and go through all my devotions, messages, and blog posts from the very beginning. “Mine those for your stories and teaching,” she wisely counseled. “Make a list of your past writing under each chapter title where it might belong. Before you start writing a chapter, see if there is content you’ve developed in the past that would fit in the chapter.”

Wowza! It was a revelation!! Re-reading all my past content made me see my journey. So much of it was related to my current book, and I could see how God has been teaching me and healing me.

Don’t make the same mistake I did for years. I didn’t think all those “little” investments of work mattered. All your work matters, so make it all count. (Click here to Tweet) Be purposeful. Be intentional. Be impactful.

2. Build relationships through service. There are so many ways to serve others. Write online book reviews for your favorite speakers and authors. Write a guest blog post for a blogging friend. Speak for free. Do the announcements or emcee an event. I listened to a webinar by Kathi Lipp last week where she advised interning for a local speaker to learn the “business” of ministry. Say “yes” as often as you possibly can.

We shouldn’t serve expecting to get something in return (Just like most people, I have a nose for that, and I don’t like it.), but people who we serve often want to help us when it’s our turn. For example, Kathi shared she often refers her interns when she’s unable to speak for an event. My friend who was the catalyst for this article is reading my manuscript and giving me enormously valuable feedback. I know she’s doing it because she loves me, but you’d better believe I’ll throw all my energy into helping her when it’s her turn. (And I guarantee it WILL be her turn some day!!)

3. Invest in your growth. This is the most important one. While you’re waiting, make sure you’re ready for opportunity. Read blogs. Read books. Practice every chance you get. Share your message for free. Invest in coaching opportunities like Next StepPlatform University, or Compel. Attend conferences like She Speaks or Allume.

Most importantly, invest in your spiritual growth. Be very, very careful not to spend so much time working in ministry that you forget Who it’s all for. Enjoy God by spending time alone with Him each day. Take a spiritual retreat. Do a study. Fellowship with friends who are growing too. Be ruthless with your own sin. Pursue a spiritual mentor. Do what it takes to grow, grow, grow! (While you’re pursuing God, you’ll fall so in love with Him that the waiting will be easier –not easy, just easier. Avoid Him and the wait will be excruciating and fruitless.)

I’m grateful for the years of spiritual formation before doors began to open. I’m thankful that each opportunity seems to follow my children needing me less. Although I wasn’t at the time, I’m glad I wrote all those devotions and blog posts that often felt like a waste of time. God’s timing is perfect, friends. Sometimes it doesn’t feel like it, but He always has purpose in the wait.

Amy

 

 

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Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Why It’s Essential to Be Yourself

 

Recently, Casey Graham of Preaching Rocket, sent out 10 emails with The 10 Commandments for Preaching. I thought this one was fantastic, so I asked permission to reprint it. Even though he is targeting preachers, you can replace with your name or “speaker”. :) Enjoy!

Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor’s style.

The year we started Preaching Rocket, we decided to embark on a 9-city tour.  It kicked off at North Point Community Church, which is my home church.

The one-day conference had four sessions, and I was the fourth and final speaker.

Though I’ve spoken in front of people for 20 years, I was extremely nervous.  Not only was I following Jeff Henderson, Andy Stanley and Louie Giglio on the schedule, I had a lot of emotion and worry about standing on that stage.

I ended up rushing through the content.  It may not have been bad, but it wasn’t my best.  I felt like my talk was flat, and it didn’t connect with the audience.

And that’s what a couple of people said in the post-event evaluation.  One commenter said, “He may be a nice guy, but clearly, he’s not a public speaker.” 

Ouch.

I’m not going to lie…feedback like that hurt.  My first response was to email back and say, “Hey, I was a youth pastor and I was a pastor and I spoke to 2,000 people”  And on and on and on.

But if I want to get better, I’ve got to hear that feedback.  I’ve got to process that feedback.  And I’ve got to keep working. And hearing other people’s feedback led me to my own personal evaluation.

Pushing my content through the plasma screen like Andy Stanley masterfully does just isn’t me.  I didn’t communicate with my own unique voice.  I let the size of the stage get to me.  In the end, I wasn’t comfortable on that stage, and I was not secure in my own style.

The issue wasn’t my content, but how I delivered it.  I tried to speak like someone else.

Which is a lot light fighting Goliath wearing someone else’s armor.

David couldn’t fight in Saul’s armor, so maybe Michael shouldn’t preach with Andy’s plasma screen TV.

Now, take a look at this map…

When I took that screenshot a couple of months ago, it represented all of the pastors who were a part of the Preaching Rocket program.

And you know what?

No two pastors are alike.  Their stories are different.  Their congregations are different.  Their styles are different.

Some of these pastors serve in mega-churches – giant churches you’ve heard of.  Some of them are in the middle of nowhere – rural America.  Some of them are in urban areas, and some of them don’t speak English.

There’s great diversity in the Kingdom of God.

God didn’t call you to be a Xerox copy of someone else.

Your background is unique.  Your successes and failures are unique.  Your perspective is unique.  And your style is unique.

So I wanted to encourage today with this…just be yourself.   And don’t covet your neighbor’s preaching style.

Thank you to Casey Graham and Preaching Rocket!! I hope you’re encouraged. Check out this deal from them. For more info, just click on the link.

Reformation Day #2

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Tuesday, October 14, 2014

In Our Weakness

I was looking for something to encourage you today, and this is what I found.

Inspirational-Quotes-Encouraging-Quotes-Every-Weakness-You-Have-Is-An-Opportunity

Funny enough, it’s exactly what I needed, so I hope it lifts you up today.

Yesterday I spent all day editing my first book. It’s a glorious opportunity, and I’m thankful. I’ve got to tell you, though, that it’s stinkin’ hard.

It’s making me be vulnerable, and it’s leaving me raw. I’m realizing how much I DON’T know about writing. I’m working alone a lot when I love being with people.

But this quote reminded me that the work being done on us is usually in our weakness, and it has a purpose.

God’s glory.

It doesn’t take long to see the good when I take that perspective. I believe He’ll get glory for forcing me to lean on Him. I believe He’ll get glory for open doors. I believe He’ll get glory for every highly edited word in my book. :) I believe He’ll get glory for the change the message makes in women’s hearts.

Is God doing anything in your life that’s leaving you feeling week? Please tell me I’m not alone! (I CRAVE community right now!) How do you see Him getting glory in your weakness?

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Monday, October 6, 2014

Encouragement Poured Onto a Dry Path

 

Have you ever had a time when you craved some encouragement?  I usually only realize how much I needed it after I get it. Encouragement is like a drop of water on a dusty, dry path. You just soak it in and then realize how much it refreshes your heart and tamps down the dust of discouragement.

I’ve found that God is sweet to use our friends and family to be that needed drink. He even instituted the idea in scripture! (And used someone to illustrate it with precious lambies. Bonus!)

34602_Called_AlongsidePhoto credit

I’ve been in a place of pouring out through writing, teaching and speaking, so God has lovingly prompted some of my Next Step friends/clients spontaneously to pour back into me. I’m so thankful!!! I feel completely humbled by their gracious words.

Since the encouragement I received not only recharged my batteries but spoke to those two questions the two main questions I believe people have about Next Step, I asked my friends if I could share. They said “yes!”.

2 main questions about Next Step:

  • Is it worth the money?
  • Is Amy scary? :) (ie. gives harsh feedback)

I hope my friends’ encouragement helps to answer these questions if they’re ones you’ve had.

Thank you so much for all your expertise the past few weeks. I know I wouldn’t be sleeping very well knowing the event was next month without your help. Except for the delivery practice, I feel 100% ready. Your advice to pray and let this be about God has been a true gift.

~Kathy Izard

I wanted to pass this along as a clear testimony to how much you’ve helped me in the just over a year that I’ve been working on this series of talks. I had SO much fun! I felt SO much more connected to the women, & I was almost completely unaware of my mistakes or fumbles and able to let them go. When I did notice them, I paused more, laughed more, exhorted more & just felt like I am finally, finally, FINALLY learning how to focus on the women and let God work!

So, THANK YOU!!!!

~Cheri Gregory

The site is up! …and feedback is good. I’m grateful to say I have four speaking commitments lined up and three more in the works. Your desire and ability to teach are gifts God is truly using, Amy. I’m so glad to have had our sessions together…. Thank you!

~Beth Sterne

If these comments encourage YOU to invest  in your calling to speak through coaching, let’s talk! My favorite thing is to encourage speakers one-on-one. Please fill out the Request Information form, and I’ll be in touch within 2 business days. If you don’t hear from me, would you let me know via email? I think the site may have been having some technical difficulties, and if you don’t hear back, I haven’t received your information. Thanks!

Amy

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Monday, September 29, 2014

An Invaluable Resource

Instead of diving into a new topic today, I want to point you to a resource that’s been tremendously helpful to me. I’ve highlighted it here before, but for those of you who may not have registered or for newcomers, I wanted to talk about it again.

Preaching Rocket is a subscription service for pastors, but they also produce lots of very valuable free resources.

FR_Tags

During the last week, I’ve been getting their emails with the 10 Commandments of Preaching. Great stuff! Don’t be intimidated by the word “preaching”. I definitely don’t consider myself a preacher, although some of you may fill that role. The information I’m receiving is excellent for anyone who is a communicator.

Click here to listen to “How to Create Sticky Statements” and get a taste of the amazing content. Click here to link to their freebies page.

I highly recommend registering to be on their email list. Although some of the emails don’t pertain to me, those are easy enough to delete. The value of the other information makes it well worth it! (I love them so much that I’m doing this “promo” for no commission. :) In case you were wondering…)

Amy

 

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Monday, September 22, 2014

Getting Some Help

This is the last post in my series about speaker fees. I hope you’ve enjoyed it and that it’s been helpful. If you have any remaining questions, I’d love to answer them next week. Just leave your question in the comments, and I’ll cover it the best I can. :) If you’ve missed any of the posts, you can click on the list below to read:

Patience & the P.I.T.

When & Why It’s Time to Have a Fee

Determining Your Speaker Level & Fee

I have to confess. Dealing with money in ministry is my least favorite part. It’s excruciating for me to talk with event planners about my fee, so I’m far too quick to offer to cut my fee… or speak for free… or give them my kitchen sink.

Several years ago, after a disastrous conversation with an event planner who I felt took advantage of my wimpiness, I was whining to my friend Luann Prater. Luann asked, “Why are you talking to an event planner about your fee? I NEVER talk to event planners about money. I want to be free to focus on ministry.”

You may wonder how that’s possible.

Our Proverbs 31 Ministries speaker team has a wonderful gift named Karen Christian in our office. She is the first contact for all the event planners who want to book a P31 speaker, and she does all the steps up to contract completion. WE LOVE HER DEARLY!

My problem was that I was still discussing fees with planners who contacted me directly, and I’m terrible at it. After my conversation with Luann, I will discuss topics and dates, but when fees come up, I say, “Karen Christian, our wonderful event administrator, takes care of our scheduling, contracts and fees. Let me send you her contact information so that the two of you can discuss your budget and  finalize the details.”

Guess what? You can have that wonderful gift too! How? Start your own “staff”.

Hiring an event administrator is a freeing next step.

Here’s my advice about how to take the plunge:

  • Hire a special person with specific skills. She should have a heart for ministry and believe you’re worth every penny of your fee. She should have sales experience without being “sales-y”. She should be warm, personable and professional. She should be able to listen attentively to an event planner’s dreams and then communicate the value you can bring to the event. She should be organized and communicate well with you.

assistant

 Photo credit: www.coxpurtell.com

  • Hire an event administrator by giving her a percentage of your fee for completed contracts. From my understanding, the standard percentage is 15%-20% of your fee.
  • Make her the first contact for people interested in your speaking. Set up an email for her that’s included on your website & biosheet.
  • Once your event administrator has finalized the details and contract, you will take over communication with the event planner.

What do you think? Are you willing to take the step of hiring an event administrator?

This is the end of the series on fees, but you may still feel you need some help. The Speaker Organization Service was developed just for you! In addition to discussing fees, you will receive a contract, invoice, speaker planner and guidelines for communicating with event planners.

To read a detailed description of this service and others, please visit our Menu of Services page.

If you have questions about the services or would like to register for a service, simply fill out the Request Information form. I will contact you to schedule a FREE consultation call.

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