Tuesday, February 24, 2015

She Speaks Testimonials

Have you attended She Speaks in the past? I’d love to share your story here.

If you’d like yours included, please send it to me at amy@proverbs31.org by Sunday, March 1. Use three-four sentences to describe what you love best about She Speaks, and I’ll share with the Speaker Sisterhood right here next week. I’d love to have a pic of your gorgeous face too, but it’s not a requirement. :) I’ll hyperlink your name to your website too if you’ll include it.

Thanks! I can’t wait to read your stories.

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Monday, February 23, 2015

Freshen Up: Part 4

Just recently I’ve made a new friend. Cary is a multi-gifted woman with a strong, entrepreneurial spirit. Since the business side of ministry isn’t my strongest suite, I asked Cary if we could barter some time for her to take a look at the Next Step site and give me suggestions.

It was such an eye-opener to sit down beside a knowledgable friend to look at the site together. The most interesting thing was that the items she encouraged me to refresh were the exact same things I’d probably tell you if I was looking at your site. But you know the saying… cobbler’s children with no shoes and all that!

After making a list of updates based on Cary’s expertise, I asked my business savvy friend Holly to take a look. I specifically asked Holly to try to look at the site as if she had never visited before. She had another list of fabulous insights which I added to Cary’s tweaks.

Finally, I called my nephew/techie genius, Jake, to ask for his input. Some of his suggestions overlapped with the others, but he also had some additional ideas based on his knowledge of what’s possible and what’s new in the web design world.

Now, I have to say that sometimes these assessments are discouraging to me. I’m starting to understand that web design changes just as quickly as fashion design. Updated sites have much more open space and go from one side of the computer screen to the other. Since I don’t have the time, energy or finances for a complete overhaul, at first I thought maybe I shouldn’t bother.

But in the end, Jake helped me to achieve a fresh look with minimal changes. I hope you’ll click here to view the website!

Following the suggestions of my fabulous friends, here are some elements I used to achieve a more up-to-date look:

1. We added a slider. Some of my most important information was buried on tabs people may not visit or way down in the sidebars. Although one techie friend told me that sliders are outdated, I love them for putting focal points front and center.

free

2. We highlighted Proverbs 31 Ministries. Holly pointed out that P31 is my strongest qualification for coaching speakers and yet it was almost nowhere to be seen on the site. I’m so proud to feature a ministry that I love so much!

lysa slide

3. We updated the social networking icons. Mine were functional but a little tired and not at all visible. Jake found some that I love and added them. If you haven’t joined us on either Facebook or Twitter, I hope you will today!

sn icons

4. We made the “subscribe” button more visible. By simply changing the color and adding it to each page, we made it easier to find and made it draw your eye.

subscribe

5. We made the font bigger. Many of you probably won’t notice this change if you get your posts via email, but recently my old eyes were protesting when I read posts on the website. I’m thankful for a 15-year-old who helped out this old lady!

6. I took down some outdated content. When we worked on this project, I went through every page with a fine-toothed comb and found some references to Karen and Suzie. Although I still love them dearly, but they haven’t worked for Next Step for over a year. It meant that a video I once loved (and paid to have produced) went away, but I want new visitors to have correct information.

Have you taken a look at your website with fresh eyes recently? I’m resolving to do it yearly now. I highly recommend starting this week on a refresh for your website. Enlist the help of some friends with sales/business/tech backgrounds.

Note: I’m so pleased with the new and improved Next Step site! Subscribers, if you’re viewing this in email, I’d love to invite you to take a peek.

If you have some friends who you think would benefit from the weekly tips or the coaching, would you send them a short email right now and let them know about Next Step? It’s been like doing spring cleaning, and now I’m eager to have new guests! :)

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Monday, February 16, 2015

Freshen Up: Part 3

Have you used the series to take a fresh look at your messages? Have you developed a sticky statement? Made sure all the essential elements are in place? In this last post about freshening messages, I want to challenge you to replace any tired stories with some new and fresh ones.

Stories are important, because stories have power.

Stories bring theory to life, and they make messages memorable.

There are two kinds  of stories you can use in your messages:

  • Somebody else’s stories– Watch for current news stories or fresh stories from reading or the internet to use. These are stories in which our culture engages, so they’re stories that connect with our audiences. There’s are a few cautions about using others’ stories, though. Be very careful to give credit where credit is due. A pastor at a friend’s church was exposed for telling others’ stories as if they were his own. Not good. Very embarrassing. If it’s not yours, then it’s a form of stealing to not give credit. Also, make sure this isn’t a story that has been forwarded into everyone’s inbox. Find something that people haven’t heard before. Finally, if you’re at an event with multiple speakers, listen to their messages. Karen Ehman tells about being at an event where the second speaker skipped the first message. What she didn’t realize was that the first speaker ended with the story in her opening. Oops. Painful.
  • Your own stories– It’s important for speakers to become students of our own lives. We need to constantly watch for updated stories of God’s hand for use in our messages. For me, this is sometimes challenging. I tend to go on auto-pilot, living life by the seat of my pants. To think back and glean stories, I try to think of times I’ve been goofy or times I’ve failed. I don’t consider myself a funny speaker at all, but I’ve found that humor is an essential connection to my audience. Although I’m not naturally funny, I’m often inadvertently goofy, so I share my faux pas which make people laugh. I’ve also found that sharing my weaknesses rather than my strengths showcases God’s hero status in my life. Stories of my failures redeemed by God’s goodness make powerful lessons.

Do you have some favorite stories to tell in your messages? Which category do they fall in?

Make sure not to miss next week! I’m going to talk about the steps I’ve taken to freshen up my websites.

Amy

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Monday, February 9, 2015

Freshen Up: Part 2

It’s that time of year! I couldn’t be more excited to announce that the registration for She Speaks is OPEN!!

she speaks button

Before you click on the link to visit the site, I need to issue a warning. You’re going to want to go. There are fabulous new breakouts and guest speakers that you won’t want to miss. So start saving your pennies. It’s an investment that you’ll never regret. Promise.

Last week, I started a series called “Freshen Up” about freshening elements of your ministry. We’re covering messages first, and this is actually part of the information that Karen Ehman and I delivered in a She Speaks breakout last year. Today’s post is great teaching that Karen shared. (Wanted to give credit where credit is due!)

Great messages have four major elements:

  • Information– Anything factual in your message would be information. This can include many things including statistics, outside studies, an explanation of the problem embedded in your topic, or information from experts.
  • Inspiration– Stories and quotes are elements that provide inspiration. Any part of your message that motivates or supplies “want-to” to your audience can be counted as inspiration.
  • Revelation– Teaching from scripture is the revelation part of your message.
  • Transformation– Application points, challenges, and practical steps toward change are included in  your transformation portions.

To refresh your messages, do an inventory exercise. Choose a different color highlighter for each element. For example, go through your message and highlight all the information with yellow. Then follow and highlight the inspiration with pink, etc.

When you’re finished highlighting each element, ask yourself:

  • Do I have all four elements represented in my message?
  • How is the balance? This isn’t completely straight-forward because you don’t have to have an equal balance. In fact, different settings need a different points of emphasis. If you’re teaching a Bible study class, it’s still advisable to have all four elements, but the revelation is going to be heavier. If you’re speaking at a fund-raiser, the inspiration will have the most weight.
  • What element(s) do I need to add or strengthen?

Once you have a sticky statement (click here to read last week’s post) and all four elements of a compelling message, you’re well on your way to refreshing your message!

Amy

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Monday, February 2, 2015

Freshen Up: Part I

You probably have a few rules about how you prepare to present yourself to the outside world. Some of us won’t leave the house without a shower while others raise the bar to lipstick and earrings as the bare minimum of being “presentable”.  (Southern girls, you know your mama told you not to go out without your earrings.)

If a friend asks us to run out for coffee spur of the moment, most of us would exclaim, “Just give me a minute to freshen up, and I’ll be right there!”

Do you feel that your messages or your messaging to event planners needs some freshening up? Have you thought about it lately?

Just a few weeks ago, I met with a friend who is a business consultant and bartered some time. She went through the Next Step site and gave me suggestions for improving and freshening up. I’m in the midst of working through her suggestions, and I’ll end this little series with tips on freshening your website. I was amazed how stale it had gotten without me taking notice!

Today, I want to start with a tip for freshening your messages.

Why would you need to re-work a message? Isn’t it ok to pull it out, dust it off, and deliver it again and again?

Very rarely.

I’m a big advocate for refreshing a message every time you use it. I occasionally realize one of my messages needs a major overhaul, but usually it’s just a matter of some tweaks. In this series, I’ll give you some ways to give old messages new life. Refreshing not only benefits your audience, but it also reignites your passion for them.

Week 1 Tip—Make sure your message has a sticky statement. 

A sticky statement is a sentence with a single, powerful truth. Your whole message should be wrapped around this one truth.

I said it this way to a small group working on messages… Pretend you’re doing an event that’s 45 minutes long. At the end of the message, you know that a fairy is going to come along and sprinkle dust on your audience, causing them to forget every profound sentence that’s fallen from your lips—except ONE.

 That one sentence is your sticky statement.

Silly, right?

You should be able to express the main point of your message in one sentence, however. It’s hard. I know. You can have multiple points that back up that sentence, but there should only be one truth. This creates “sticky” messages—messages that stick with people long enough to change their lives.

Here are some great examples from speakers I love:

  • “Let God chisel.” ~Lysa TerKeurst
  • “Am I trying to be godly, or am I trying to be God?” ~Karen Ehman (Note: Usually I tell people that sticky statements can’t be questions. Karen’s works since it’s a rhetorical question with an embedded truth.)
  • “It’s like a thousand songs in your pocket.” ~Steve Jobs when he unveiled the iPod to a crowd of stockholders, reporters, and influencers.

A sticky statement is the key to making your message laser-like. It creates a message that’s focused and memorable.

Do you write your messages around a sticky statement? What can you share that you’ve learned as you’ve done this?

Amy

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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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Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Corrected Links

I’m so sorry yesterday’s post had some broken links! I did some cutting and pasting, so they didn’t transfer.

Click here to access the linked links. :)

Amy

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Tuesday, January 6, 2015

15 Tips to Grow Your Speaking Ministry in 2015

Happy New Year, friends! I hope you had a fabulous Christmas with renewing rest and strengthening family time. I enjoyed a little hiatus, but I’m raring to go into a fresh, new year of growth and opportunities. How about you?

2015

I want to challenge each of you to take some time today or tomorrow to write down some next steps for your speaking ministry. Maybe you’re just starting out and need to find a fellow speaker to interview about the details of being a speaker. Perhaps you’re a very seasoned speaker who needs to mine your recent spiritual lessons for some exciting new messages. For all of us, this is the year to take steps to get the messages God has put in our hearts out to audiences who are dying to hear His truth!

No matter where you are, you can take tangible steps to grow your speaking ministry. Here are my top 15 tips for 2015:

1. Spend a day (or as much time as you can carve out) in a quiet place with just your Bible and a journal. Worship, pray and read God’s Word. Ask Him to speak to you about His agenda for you for the year. Read this blog post for more details about a retreat with Jesus.

2. Pray before you speak, “Lord, help me to love You first and to love these women as you love them.” Watch your focus change and your nerves subside.

3. Lay aside a percentage of each of your speaking fees for reinvestment back into your ministry.

4. Purchase a book that will challenge you in your speaking and implement at least one new idea in your next message. We’ve got some great suggestions in our reading list on the sidebar! I’ve gotten half way through Platform by Michael Hyatt and Resonate by Nancy Duarte. Finishing them and implementing what I learn is at the top of my list.

5. Schedule time each week to work on your speaking ministry–studying, writing new messages or working on marketing tasks.

6. Seek out someone who lives very differently than you as a friend. One of the ways God is expanding my horizons and teaching me new things is through some friends who do ministry in different arenas as well as two friends who live with significant handicaps. These friendships and the lessons we learn through them impact our messages significantly.

7. Start saving your pennies and attend She Speaks. It’s a feast for your mind and soul! Registration will open early March.

8. Prayerfully set a goal for how many times you’ll speak this year. Be open to all kinds of venues for speaking (including making announcements, emceeing events, teaching Sunday school, etc), and speak as often as possible. Pray for chances to share God’s message and exercise your “speaking muscle”.

9. Record yourself (digital recorders are worth the investment) or ask to be recorded each time you speak. Then listen to yourself! I know it’s excruciating, but you’ll identify more needs for improvement by doing this than by any other single thing.  Video is even better (worse?).  Watching yourself will alert you to areas that need work.

10. Subscribe to blogs that will give you information about being a better speaker and getting the word out about your ministry. We’d love for you to subscribe here for our free weekly speaker tips, of course!  We also have additional information posted on our Facebook page.   Also, I recommend Micheal Hyatt’s blog as well as signing up for Rob Eager’s Monday Morning Marketing Tips.

11.  Listen to great speakers and analyze the structure of their messages.  There are tons of free podcasts.  A few of my favorites are any of my Proverbs 31 sisters, Jennifer Rothschild, Andy Stanley and Ravi Zacharias.

12. Watch TED Talks to fill your mind with challenging ideas and the opportunity to listen to some fabulous speakers. Here are a few of my favorites: Mandisa, Diana Nyad, Bill Gates, Jane Fonda and my all-time favorite, genius TED Talk by Jane McGonigal.

13. Choose 12 of Tracie’s marketing ideas, and implement one each month this year.

14. Get out and live a bigger life. Take a day-trip. Ride your bike. Play with children. Cook international food. Break out of your rut, and do something different! Not only will it energize you, it will give you material for your messages.

15. And last but not least…use Next Step Speaker Services to help you individually with message development, message evaluation or developing marketing pieces. Learn more about our service by viewing this video. If you’d like to schedule a FREE CONSULTATION CALL click here

I’m here to be your cheerleader for all of 2015! I’m in this growth process right along with you, so let’s take some next steps together.

Will you use any of these tips? I’d love to hear your thoughts if you’re planning your speaking year!

Amy

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