Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Ways to Let Them Know You

Hi, Speaker Friends! Last weekend was my last event of the spring speaking season. It was a wonderful event, and I was thrilled to have my first event outside the US. My Canadian hosts were charming, and it thrills my wander-lusting (a label my grandmother gave me) soul to say I’m now an international speaker!

At several of my spring events, event planners came up with some truly innovative ways to let their women know me ahead of time. I was inspired by them and by an excellent post by Gina Duke in womensministry.net’s weekly tips. Click here to read the article. *There’s usually a timeframe these articles are available, so read it today before it’s gone. :)

Angela Donadio, a Next Step client, friend, worship leader & speaker, used Facebook in the most unique way I’ve seen. Check this out:

fb screen shot 3

Isn’t that an awesome idea?! Angela had me send several questions that related to my talk, and women could enter for the giveaway with a comment or like.

I’m going to use these ideas to create a PDF on my “For Event Planners” page on my website so that I can help planners with their attendance. Do you have anything you’re doing to help planners engage women before your events? I’d love to hear your ideas.

Important Notes:

  • As I mentioned, I just finished my last speaking event for spring, but I’m hitting my limitations in a big way. Summer is here. Boys are home. Book launch and She Speaks are coming fast!! So… I’m going to take a hiatus from blogging here for the summer. If you’re subscribed, you’ll see me pop back into your email box again come fall. If you’re not, this would be a great time to subscribe so that you don’t miss a thing in our Speaker Girl Community in the fall.
  • Heatherly, who left her comment at 5:35 pm on 5/19, won the copy of How to Love Your Neighbor Without Being Weird. Congratulations, Heatherly!
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Monday, May 18, 2015

Generous Messaging

 

I used to hate marketing for all the reasons you probably hate it too.

It felt self-serving.

It felt like tooting my own horn.

It felt narcissistic.

Did I hit the nail on the head?

That’s how I felt until I understood that a change of focus is all it takes to take marketing from slimy to generous. Here’s how I was challenged to think differently and therefore to market differently. A friend asked me, “Amy, do you think you have a message that can help women? That will change their life?”

“Yes, of course,” I answered. “That’s what motivates me to do what I do.”

“Well, if you don’t tell anybody,” she challenged, “then how do they know what you have to give to them?”

Oh! The light bulb went on!

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It’s easy to think about in general terms, but I’m finding it’s harder to do in concrete terms as I market my book being release this summer. I’m so grateful for friends that are leading the way and setting godly examples for me.

One of those Next Step client turned friend is Amy Lively  who has just released her excellent book How to Love Your Neighbor Without Being Weird

In every promotion, every social networking post, and every interaction with those who love her book, Amy is all about the message that has set her heart aflame for a better way to follow God. Truly. Her book is written intimately and vulnerably for each of us in mind, but she says she really wrote the book for our neighbors–the ones who need love and desperately need Jesus.

Don’t you love that? Seriously, if you want to see generous messaging, follow the links above, and check out Amy’s Facebook page. (Do you see how much stuff she’s giving away?!)

I love Amy. I love her heart. I love her message. (Enough to include a bad picture of me with a great book! This is a real day in the home office, folks.)

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She loves us too! So she’s giving a book away on the blog today. You can leave a comment to enter about your ideas for generous messaging (’cause we LOVE hearing from you) or you can simply leave “Now that’s generous messaging!” as a comment to enter.

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Monday, May 18, 2015

I Feel Guilty About Being Paid to Speak

I did feel guilty at times about being paid to speak, and I’ll bet you’ve struggled too.

I don’t feel guilty anymore, though, and Michael Hyatt just wrote an excellent blog post with all the things I think, but he said it better. :) Click here to read the post. My nugget of the week written by Michael Hyatt!

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Monday, May 11, 2015

Two Great Resources

I’ve got to confess, y’all. I’ve been in ministry/family/launch overdrive and struggling to come up with something for you this week.

I want you to have something valuable, though, so I came up with two “somethings”. We’re keeping it short but hopefully very sweet this week. :)

1. If you have never participated in a Preach Better Sermons event with Preaching Rocket, you have another chance this Wednesday. It’s my most-highly-recommended event for communicators, and it’s FREE. And our friend Lysa TerKeurst is one of the facilitators, so you know it’s going to be good! Click here to find out more information and to register today for this fabulous event.

2. If you are going to She Speaks for the first time this year, you might have a million and one questions. I wrote a series with tips, and you can click here or go the new category in the side bar “Tips for She Speaks” to read it.

Also, if you haven’t joined us on Facebook or Twitter, today would be a great time. Just click on the cute icons on the right sidebar. Claire, my intern extraordinaire, and I will be posting a resource extravaganza this week!!

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Tuesday, May 5, 2015

What DO you do?

Several years ago, I had a Next Step client who told me, “Amy, I don’t think people understand what you do. I sure didn’t before we worked together!”

She explained that when she signed up for the Message Development Service she thought I’d simply edit the message she wrote. Instead, she realized that it was service that included lots of teaching about essential communication skills. To read all about the Message Development Service click here.

You still might be a little fuzzy on what it means to work with a speaking coach, so I wanted to clarify by telling about the wide range of what we can work on together.

Message Development & Evaluation:

I work with clients on developing messages from scratch as well as giving feedback on recordings or videos of messages. It’s scary to submit your work to someone else, but I’m an encourager at heart. My goal is to work myself out of a job by giving you the tools you need to confidently convey the message God has put on your heart.

Marketing Materials:

I love working with clients to create websites, biosheets, and other materials in order to communicate the valuable message you have to share with others.

Although my background is education, I’ve learned a lot over the years about effectively getting the word out. It turns out that both education and marketing are about brain-science which totally geeks me out!

Miscellaneous:

This is the category I most want to talk about. Do you have something you wish you could develop or process with another speaker? I’m here for you! The Specialized Coaching Call is a single call where we can put the power of collaborative learning to work. Two heads truly are better than one.

collaborative learning

Here are some examples of single-call, individualized services I’ve done:

  • Discussion with the leader of a non-profit about communicating her vision as she fund-raises.
  • Brain-storming book titles that resonate.
  • Evaluating a single, written message including talking through the potential for retreat development.
  • Giving feedback on how to upgrade an existing website.
  • Just this week I got the fun task of helping a client develop a concept for a television segment she’s been invited to do.

Do you have something that you’d love to bounce around with another speaker? Let’s do a Free Consultation Call to see if I’m a good fit to help. I’m always up front about whether I think I’m to the one to help. If not, I’ll tell you, and I’ll try to find a referral for you.

Is there a service you’re interested in that I’m not currently offering? I’d love to hear about it!

Also, I’m thinking of starting to offer some services around writing since I’ve been on this huge learning curve. What are you looking for? I’d love to have your feedback, so I can think through adding new services.

Thanks, friends. I value each one of you, and I love hearing from you in the comments and via email. Hugs to you!

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Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Be Prepared for Anything

 

Last weekend was a fascinating time of contrasting events.

It was the first time I’ve ever done two events in one weekend, and the events themselves couldn’t have been more different.

One was in a traditional church. One was in a very contemporary church.

One was in a church were response is quiet. One was in a church that’s demonstrative.

One was a fairly new kind of event for the group. One had lots of similar events under their belt.

The wonderful thing to see was how both events were equally awesome. Jesus showed up and did His work in both places, and you just can’t beat Jesus at work no matter the setting!

One lesson I re-learned in doing both events is to be ready for anything.

You girls know that I’m releasing a book in July called Breaking Up with Perfect, which is about our journey to let go of our own ideas about “Perfect”. (Here’s a sneak peek!)

book cover

My ideas of perfection have also extended into women’s events, but the more I see success in contrasting events, the more I understand the importance of appreciating differences instead of clinging to my own narrow view.

Also, this new-to-me flexibility has helped me to go with the flow even when things go wrong at an event. After all, there are no perfect people, so there are no perfect events!

It has helped me to be gracious when:

  • Someone introduces me by the wrong name.
  • The tech people can’t figure out how to integrate my technology with theirs.
  • The batteries die in the sound pack.
  • Breakout leaders are confused because they haven’t been given the questions I sent.
  • I feel like I’m falling off a cliff every time my high-heel gets caught in a tiny crack in the stage, and I flail my arms around like I’m falling 1000 ft.
  • An insect is crawling up my arm & the audience is watching the bug instead of listening to me. (This has actually happened at two separate events–once with a stink bug & once with a spider!!)

These are all things that have happened to me over the years, and I’ve learned to deal with them with increasing patience and humor. I’m a mess, but I’m growing!

Here are a few tips for handling the things that inevitably go wrong during an event:

  • Send your technology ahead so the team can give it a trial run. I usually send links from files in DropBox.
  • Write an introduction to give to the event planner. I let them know that’s it’s optional, but usually it’s a relief to her to have the help.
  • Bring some emergency supplies: batteries, skin-colored tape (for those over-the-ear mics that just won’t stay in place), an extra copy of all your handouts and discussion questions, insect spray (just kidding!)
  • Carry along an extra pair of shoes. Seriously. I’ve started carrying flats to every event in case of emergency (like catching heels) or simple foot fatigue.
  • Make sure to arrive overflowing with Jesus and with your sense of humor intact. (Sometime I’ll tell you how that stink bug actually saved me as I was sinking.)

I’d love to hear your funny stories of things that have gone wrong and your tips to be ready in every circumstance!

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Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Who Is in the Chairs?

I’m a retreat girl. There’s no doubt, but I had forgotten since I hadn’t led one in a while.

I think I love retreats so much because I’m highly relational. Retreats give time and space for women to begin to break down the walls and get to know each other quickly on a deeper level.

Last weekend, I led a beach retreat (heavenly fellowship located near heaven), and the deep sharing started from the get-go as each woman introduced herself. Boy, there was a lot of pain and hurt behind some of those beautiful faces, and I immediately began reassessing my message. In my mind, I cut and pasted before I began to speak based on some of the things I heard in the introductions.

In a non-retreat setting, we rarely get much insight into the faces looking into ours as we speak, but it’s important to try to think through who will be filling the chairs at an event.


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Some of the blanks can be filled in as we talk to event planners. We can ask questions like:

  • Will there be both males and females at the event or just women?
  • What is the age range?
  • Are there any special populations I should be aware of? (ie. miliary wives, grief groups, homeless, etc)

But we need to think beyond those basic categories. This weekend I was more aware than ever that I need to realize statistically there will be certain circumstances represented in a group of women:

  • There will be married women.
  • There will be women that have never married.
  • There will be women whose marriage is in crisis.
  • There will be divorced women.
  • There will be women whose husbands had an affair.
  • There will be women who have had abortions.
  • There will be women who have experienced a significant death recently.
  • There will be women who are in the midst of infertility.
  • There will be women who are struggling as moms.

You get the gist. Although I’m tender-hearted and try to be sensitive, I realized this weekend that I hadn’t run my message through the filter of considering the hurts in my audience. I was speaking as a happily married woman with children who are doing pretty well (Right now. They’re young, so I’m humble enough to know that could change tomorrow!).

I don’t think that it’s a bad thing to speak from my personal, current perspective, but I want to make sure I treat my audience with love and care.

Being a speaker is a huge responsibility. How are you careful to manage that responsibility?

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Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Question About Breakouts

 

Some weeks I’m foggy and struggle to think of something new for you, but God is always faithful. Last week Diana Hartmann sent me a great question on the Request Information form, and I thought everyone might like to hear the answer.

(Reminder Note: Although I can’t answer personal questions via email because of time constraints, you can send me a question to be answered on the blog either by filling out the Request Information form or by emailing me at amy@proverbs31.org. I love getting your questions!)

Diana’s Question: I am attending the She Speaks 2015 Conference. This is my second year to attend. Last year I geared more towards writing, and I have been a member of Compel for the last year. I plan on taking some speaker sessions this year, any recommendations?

Every year I have friends who attend She Speaks who ask me recommendations for breakouts as they sign up. Here are my “must attend” recommendations for each category:

First Time Attender–Speaker:

Breakout Title & Leader: Finding Your Niche (preconference) ~Lynn Cowell

Level: Beginning, Intermediate

Have you felt the call of God to speak or write to women but are a bit iffy on the specifics? Need to hone in on what makes you uniquely “you”? Listen and learn as you are equipped to:• Find your areas of expertise by taking inventory of your strengths, weaknesses, loves and loathes
• Blend your life experiences, talents and spiritual gifts together to obtain your ministry niche
• Unearth your hidden passions and turn them into powerful messages
• Discover your unique place in God’s plan that will change lives—yours and those of your listeners or readers!

First Time Attender–Writer:

Breakout Title & Leader: From Blog to Book Deal ~Lisa-Jo Baker

Level: Beginning, Intermediate, Advanced

After nearly five years of managing the highly popular women’s contributor blog, (in)courage, and seven years running her personal blog, Lisa-Jo Baker, published her first book with Tyndale House last year. In this session Lisa-Jo will walk you through some of the common questions that arise when considering moving from the world of blogging to getting a book deal and transitioning to book writing, including:

  • Is a blog even necessary to be a published author?
  • What’s the difference between blog writing and book writing?
  • The benefits of blogging as well as the highs, lows and time commitments
  • Practical examples of how to make this platform work for you
  • How and why to use social media
  • How to juggle motherhood along this journey
  • Connecting with publishers
  • Carving out time to actually sit down and write that manuscript while still maintaining your blog

Repeat Attender–Speaker:

Breakout Title & Leader: Positioning yourself as a professional speaker. ~Leah DiPascal

Level: Beginning, Intermediate

Event leaders want speakers who are confident, professional and organized. Discover the secrets of becoming a professional speaker who is sought-after and invaluable to event leaders. In this highly requested session you will learn:

  • Five ways to capture the attention of event leaders
  • Practical tips to keep you professionally organized
  • How to set and increase your speaking fees
  • Presenting and negotiating your fees with confidence
  • Key components of a speaking contract

Repeat Attender–Writer:

Breakout Title & Leader: Backstage Pass to Agenting~ Esther Fedorkevich (agent) & Karen Ehman (P31 speaker/author)

Level: Beginning, Intermediate, Advanced
Most people don’t understand what a literary agent does. Contrary to popular belief, an agent does a lot more than just get book deals for writers. Esther Fedorkevich, who has represented over 30 New York Times bestselling authors and books, gives an insider’s take at what being an agent is really all about. She’ll take you backstage to see how an agent works with both publishers and authors to create high impact, meaningful projects that endure.

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I chose these breakouts for their practical, take-home applications. These are just my #1 recommendations, and you can see all the possible breakouts for the main conference here and for the pre-conference here. In nine years of attendance at She Speaks, there was only one breakout that I didn’t like. That person hasn’t been back since, so you’re safe! (Just keepin’ it real.) Also, don’t fret if you feel torn, many of the sessions are recorded, and you’ll have an opportunity to purchase Mp3s of sessions you missed at the end of the conference.

Many women ask if they can attend both writing and speaking breakouts even if they’ve chosen an opposite trace. The happy answer is “yes”! Sign up for what you think you need most.

Yes, I’ll be teaching at She Speaks too! I’ll be leading 3 sessions: The opening for the speaker track (with nuggets for speakers from my book Breaking Up with Perfect–release date July 7), Brass Tacks: Message Development Essentials, and How to Walk in Your Calling When Your Confidence is Crashing. If you attend and you’re part of this Speaker Girl community, please make sure to come hug my neck. I can’t wait to meet you!

Some of you might be wondering about Compel, a program Diana referenced in her question. Compel is a monthly subscription service for writers. There are 4 lessons each month which translates to about 1/2 an hour a week + assignments you decide to do as practice from the lesson. It’s a fantastic training service in which I participate as well, and I highly recommend it! Click on the links for more information.

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Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Tips for Beginning Speakers

Most weeks I pass on speaker tips for what I’m learning right now. I’m in the trenches with you, Speaker Girl! However, this week I want us to back up and remember back to the very beginning of our speaking.

What were we learning then?

What do we wish someone would tell us?

Here are 10 tips for beginning speakers:

  1. Speak as often as you can. Set a numerical goal to try to reach–ie. three times a month. Count every time you speak including doing Sunday school announcements, a church greeting, or leading a small group. Nothing is too small. It all counts!
  2. Create a planning document with all the questions you want to ask event planners so you can record their answer. The devil is in the details (and being able to remember all of them).
  3. Adopt an attitude of service. Although speaking may seem glamorous from the outside, it takes a servant not a diva to do it well.
  4. Tell your friends and family that you’re speaking. I know. It’s terrifying. I remember whispering, “I’m a speaker” at the beginning because I was so afraid to say it out loud. Letting people who love you and believe in you know is the best way to get invitations in the beginning.
  5. Pray for attendees. I only started doing this a couple of years ago, but it’s one of the most powerful tools I use now. Ask event planners for the names of all the attendees, and pray for them by name. The Holy Spirit does some powerful connecting before you even arrive at the event.
  6. Volunteer to help an experienced speaker. You could do anything from helping with social media to traveling with her to manning a resource table. Some of the best lessons I’ve learned are as I’ve traveled with other, more experienced Proverbs 31 speaker team members.
  7. Flip 1/2 as much. I put my notes in a 3-ring binder back to back with the blank pages together. If you’ve got a printer that will print both sides, that’s even better. Having pages face each other means I have to flip pages 1/2 as often. (See the picture below if that’s confusing.)IMG_0642
  8. Practice. Practice. Practice. I never have gotten over hating practice, but it helps with 2 things. It helps you to internalize your message. It helps you know that you can stay within your time. I even practice with a timer on facing a full-length mirror sometimes. I feel like a goof-ball, but it helps me to practice calming my wild hand gestures.
  9. Don’t ever go past your time. It’s always better to leave people wanting more than wishing you had stopped 10 minutes ago. Also, it’s courteous to stay on time so that the other people in the program get their fair time.
  10. Craft and memorize 3 sentences. Your first sentence should start with a bang and get everyone’s attention. Your second sentence to craft and memorize is your sticky statement–the one main idea of your whole message. The last sentence you say should also be crafted and memorized. A great ending is obvious and invites applause.

How about the rest of you? Please leave a tip for all our sisters who are just at the beginning of this journey we’re all traveling!

Note: If you’re a subscriber with friends who are just starting to speak, would you share this post with them and maybe encourage them to subscribe? I made a list of things for which I’m thankful this morning, and “Encouraging women in ministry” was on it. I’d love to reach as many women with encouragement as possible!

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Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Seasons of Ministry

 

Have you seen a drop in the number of your speaking events recently or are you still waiting for the phone to ring?

Are you discouraged, wondering what’s going on?

You know you’ve heard God’s voice. Scriptures leap off the page to confirm His calling, and trusted friends tell you you’re on the right track. When you do speak, people respond, and you see seeds of life-change planted.

You’re ready. You’re waiting.

What now?

I want to just send a little word of encouragement today about seasons. For the first time since Next Step was launched, my coaching clientele has been shrinking instead of growing, so I’ve been doing some inventory.

What is God saying? 

He hasn’t given me new direction, so I’m continuing to stand in the last word He gave me which is to start coaching through Next Step.

What are others saying?

“I recently contacted Next Step Speaker Services for assistance in taking an existing message and making it better. WOW! What a huge help Amy Carroll was. She not only helped me reorganize the message, we were able to cut it down a little bit so it was shorter and much clearer. The confidence I gained through working with Amy on this message really helped me to deliver it with boldness.” ~ Holly Ladner

(In response to saying that nobody has every called me a genius…)  “Amy is a genius at encouragement, at highlighting what’s really working well, and pinpointing that one thing that’s throwing everything off. My messages are SO much more effective because of the time Amy’s spent working through them with me. My referral rates have soared as have my bookings. Bottom line: Amy Carroll is a genius at making me sound and look like a genius! And now you can’t say nobody’s ever called you a genius, Amy! ;-)” ~Cheri Gregory

What are my feelings saying? (They don’t lead me, but they’re relevant.)

I still love coaching as much as I ever have. I don’t feel burned out or ready to quit.

So what’s happening?

That’s what I’ve been asking God, and I hope what He’s showing me encourages you.

The demands on my time have shifted. Writing the book has been a huge, challenging project. Speaking has also picked up during this season. God is showing me…

So, how about you? What other areas of your life is God developing while speaking is slower or on hold?

Do you have little ones who won’t be little forever and need your time now?

Are you caring for a loved one who is ill?

Is your husband needing to feel your love through time spent?

Is your day-job requiring more of you?

Do you simply need a season of rest? (This is legit, so don’t neglect it!)

If God brings anything to mind that needs your attention right now, I want to encourage you to see this as a season of grace instead of failure in your speaking. Hold on, friend! Don’t sweat or worry. Your speaking season is just down the road!

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