Tuesday, June 17, 2014

A Tip for Managing Your Nerves

Note: This post is from our archives, but it’s still my best tip for managing your nerves.

This post was written by Amy Carroll, director of Next Step Speaker Services.  To get to know Amy better, visit her at her personal blog www.amycarroll.org.  

When I get nervous, I start to lose my breath which isn’t great for a speaker.  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.  What helps you manage your nervousness?

Amy

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Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Why Coaching Goes Wrong and How to Fix It

Recently, I got a very tentative inquiry about my speaker coaching services from a woman, Sharon Hurkens, who had been burned twice in employing a speaker coach. These were disappointing and expensive let downs, so you can imagine she was gun-shy about trying again.

But after our free consultation call, Sharon felt comfortable going forward with me, and she just finished the Message Development Service. At the end, I asked her if the service had been what she hoped, and thankfully she said yes! I think there’s a lot to learn from her experiences, so I asked her to share with you. Here’s an interview in which I sent Sharon questions, and she wrote the answers.

Q:  When we did our free consultation call, you let me know you’ve had some negative speaker coaching experiences in the past that were also very expensive. What made you decide to try coaching again? 

A:  I am a Life Coach and have had success with most of my clients over the years as well as positive experiences with them, so I do believe in coaching.  It works.  That I did not do my research better before I just signed up for a $1200.00 coaching agreement with really no assistance at all, is no one’s fault but my own. 

I have been following Proverbs 31 for at least 18 months now and trust their word.  

Q: How did you feel about our experience working together? What made Next Step Speaker Services different from those other two experiences?

A:  I enjoyed my experience with Amy Carroll tremendously, she was professional yet personable.  I could relate to her with my faith and she was not from a New Age perspective where the “divine” is any god you desire him/her to be.  

Next Step Speaker services gave me hands on material and handouts which helped me to move from my current place in life.  I took a huge leap forward because of the current information Next Step uses. 

Q: What’s your next goal now that we’ve completed the Message Development Service?

After I have attended “She Speaks” Conference in July, I am going to hire Amy again either for my writing goals or to further my speaking goals. 

Q: I’m excited you’re coming to She Speaks this summer. I can’t wait to meet you in person! I know you’ve also been to SCORRE. Why do you think conferences are so valuable? What do you hope to gain from She Speaks?

Sharon 

A: I believe conferences are vital because there is a time to build new relationships, learn way more than I know and I will be refreshed, ready to attack whatever God has for me. 

You can “meet” Sharon on her blog at http://www.shedawayministries.com.

 

I am so pleased Sharon considered her investment in coaching with Next Step a success! Here are a few tips you may want to implement as you research any coaching you’re considering:

  • If you are looking for true Christian coaching, ask for a statement of faith before you sign a contract. In my case, my affiliation with Proverbs 31 makes my core beliefs more clear, but the label “Christian” doesn’t mean the same thing to everyone.
  • Discuss  expectations ahead of time and ask for a clear definition of the final product. There should be a written document or contract with all of it specifically written.
  • Ask who you will be receiving the coaching from. In both of Sharon’s cases, she assumed she would receive coaching from the person who sponsored the website and was disappointed to be delegated to someone else in the business.

In case you’re now wondering, here are the answers to these questions from Next Step Speaker Services:

  • Click here to read my statement of faith on my personal blog.
  • Next Step Speaker Services has a contract for each service detailing the number of hours covered by the service as well as the number of personal contacts. The service descriptions contain the final product you can expect to leave with from each service. Please know that services can also be individualized, and we’ll write your expectations into a general contract.
  • I do all the speaker coaching personally, so all your interactions will be with yours truly! :)

If you have any other questions either about speaker coaching in general or any of our services, please fill out the Request Information form, and I will contact you to schedule a time for a free phone consultation. I look forward to connecting with you personally!

Amy

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Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Old Stories and New

Today is a video blog, so if you’re a subscriber, you can click here to watch.

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Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Input: Resources for Speakers

Several years ago, our Proverbs 31 team all took the test in Strengths Finders 2.0 to identify each individual’s primary strengths. One of mine was “input.” The shortest way to describe this strength is “a geek-ish love of research and information.”

It’s really true about me. Not only am I a bookworm and resource junkie, I love to share these pieces of information with others. People around me– friends, family, pastor, teammates, etc–are probably sick of receiving links via email…so this week I thought I’d give them a break and inflict…I mean invest…my super-power on you. Here are some resources I highly recommend:

For finding your ministry niche:

  • Strengths Finders 2.0  Understanding your own strengths is key to finding your sweet spot. The book comes with a code in the back to do the test online. You get individualized feedback that’s invaluable. (I can testify that the test completely pegged me!)
  • Find Your Niche  An easy-to-read article with 3 insightful steps to finding your niche.

For getting the word out:

  • Wildfire Marketing  Although Rob Eager’s tips are targeted to authors, I learn lots of great marketing ideas for speakers as well.
  • Jeff Goins’ podcasts  Jeff is doing some dynamite interviews with folks like Seth Godin and Guy Kawasaki. These marketing gurus also have a generous heart toward sharing their expertise. Love that.

From great trainers:

For improving your delivery:

For overcoming nerves:

  • Amy Cuddy’s TED Talk about how your body language shapes your self-image. I get totally totally geeked out on TED Talks, and this is one of my favorites. Fascinating stuff.

These should keep you busy for a while! :) I’d love to hear which ones you like and any other resources you find helpful. I invite YOUR “input”!

Amy

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Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Social Networking Links

A friend pointed out that I didn’t provide the links in yesterday’s post to access Michaela’s terrific info on endings, so here they are!

Facebook

Twitter

We provide the same content in both places, so simply choose the one you like the best. :)

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Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Endings

“The end of THE END is the best place to begin THE END, because if you read THE END from the beginning of the beginning of THE END to the end of the end of THE END, you will arrive at the end.”  ~Lemony Snicket

As hard as it is to read that quote, it’s not nearly as hard as writing a great ending to a message. Or at least that’s how I feel!

I love starting with a personal story, compelling the audience to connect through felt need, teaching through God’s truth and coming up with a transformational challenge. It’s when I have to wrap it all up that I begin to falter. Just this morning I was preparing for an event this weekend by reading over a message. All was well with just a few tweaks here and there until I got to the end.

washout

This message isn’t just any message. It’s my testimony message, “The Untying of the Straight-Laced Girl”. It’s the story of my heart’s transformation and the power of Jesus in my life. So it shouldn’t have a weak, wishy-washy ending, should it? I want something that stirs women’s hearts and draws them to the Captor of my soul.

How do we construct great endings for our messages? I’m still learning, but here are some things I’ll focus on as I write a stronger one for “The Untying of a Straight-Laced Girl”.

    • End with hope–So much of our messages center around giving our audience the “how to”, but we have to leave them with “want to”. How will their life improve if they walk out the truths you’ve presented? We need to end with inspiration so our audiences walk out inspired, full of hope and ready to make a change. Painting a picture–showing instead of telling–through story is often a great way to end.
    • End with a crafted sentence– A couple of years ago at She Speaks Intensive, our participants were videoed doing a three minute message at the end of the conference. It was a stressful situation for everyone, and toward the end of our preparation time, the freak out started. (I could completely understand!) I found some very profound words coming out of my mouth, “You need to CRAFT and MEMORIZE three sentences: your opening sentence, your sticky statement and your closing sentence. Everything else can be fairly fluid.” As these words flowed out of my mouth, I thought, “Great advice, Amy. Why don’t you try it?!” Now I do! I carefully work on and memorize a strong hook for the beginning and a memorable sentence for the end. It has helped tremendously to be able to start and end with confidence.
    • End with emotion and inflection– Years ago, I was talking with my friend Rachel who teaches communications at a university. She shared that her classes analyze TED Talks to find what makes a great speech. They found effective endings create spontaneous applause. What a great insight! I know from experience that lots of my endings created a puzzled pause instead of spontaneous applause. There was an obvious, “Is she finished?” in my audiences eyes. I’m learning to really FEEL my end, to let that through in my voice and to use inflection to indicate the ending. If you’re not sure about how to do this, experiment a little yourself and start listening to great endings.

Michaela, the wonder-intern, has included lots of great additional information about endings on our Facebook and Twitter pages. We’d love for you to join us there!

Amy

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Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Sisterhood

A couple of weeks ago, I traveled to Indiana where I was part of a wonderful event. The team truly had servant’s hearts, and I found I just couldn’t out-work them. It’s truly my heart’s desire to serve at each speaking opportunity, but occasionally event planners assign ME as a job.  I’ll have one person who has been assigned the arduous :) task of taking care of me from airport pickup to drop off.

(Note: If you are planning an event, this is the absolute biggest gift you can give to your speaker. It’s such a luxury, but I LOVE it when I have one contact who can direct me, answer any questions, help me with last minute emergencies, etc. I don’t ever want to be a diva, but that one person increases my feeling of “comfortableness” exponentially!)

Event planners always pick the warmest, friendliest, most hospitable women for this job. Lisa, my liason for the Indiana event, was no exception. She made my visit memorable and comfortable. As we drove, we chatted about our families, ministry and girly topics of every sort. At one point she asked me a great question, “How does it feel to spend time with people you don’t know? Do you feel uncomfortable?”

I thought for a moment before I replied, “I don’t feel uncomfortable at all. It’s funny how God works and knits people together by His Spirit before we even meet. I feel like I have sisters everywhere I go.”

I’ve been doing lots of practical posts, but today I want to focus on one of the spiritual blessings of being a speaker. God will give you sisters wherever you go–women who love Jesus, serve other women, and love you whole-heartedly too.

“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” John 13: 34-35

I see this verse in action at each event I take part in, and it’s an incomparable blessing! What blessings do you receive as you speak?

Amy

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Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Gaining Confidence

 

I’m not sure when it happened, but at some point I stepped into my calling as a speaker. My insecurities and tendency to compare myself negatively to others didn’t completely disappear; however, they lessened dramatically as my confidence grew.

I still deal with a few jitters as I stand to speak, but they don’t own me any more. I stand confident that God in me is bigger than my nervousness.

There are some simple steps for speakers to take to step out of insecurity and into confidence.

1. Depend wholly on God and His able-ness. As my friend Lisa Whittle says, “As modern day speakers and communicators, it is in recognizing where the power for the message comes from that we are able to stay pure of heart, having only holy confidence in our Lord rather than in our own abilities.”

2. Pray even more than you prepare. It’s in this time with God that correct perspective is gained and fresh messages are born in our hearts. When we enter an event with the full knowledge of ourselves as a handmaiden to our glorious God, having prioritized becoming a learner and praying for our audience, then confidence is the undeniable result.

3. Prepare too. Several years ago in a conversation with my brother, who is now a pastor, I was complaining about my inability to think fast on my feet. “I wish I could follow the Spirit more while I’m speaking,” I whined. His response was wise and instructive. “The Spirit can speak to you when you’re sitting at your desk preparing just as well as when you’re on a stage.”

Preparing for me means hours in prayer and Bible study before I start writing followed by more hours in front of a computer typing words and sentences that I hope communicate God’s message well.

Another way to prepare and build confidence is through training.

Last week I had another encounter with someone you’d never EVER imagine lacking confidence. She has lots of experience in front of people, and she’s esteemed in her field. Even with all the amazing-ness she has going on, this woman said she felt like throwing up last summer when it was her turn to speak to our group…

mandisa

Last summer I got to meet Mandisa–who is lovely inside and out not to mention a vocal powerhouse–at She Speaks. This weekend, I went as a mega-fan to her concert in Durham, NC, and I got to talk to her for just a few minutes before the concert.

I was thrilled to hear her say how much She Speaks prepared her for speaking opportunities including a TED Talk event. Click here to  watch her inspiring and confidently delivered message.

Here’s my point … every single one of us struggles with insecurity, but there are concrete steps to take toward confidence. A strong and authentic spiritual life is critical, but preparing and training have their place too.

Have you been praying about coming to She Speaks this summer? There’s still a spot for you, and I’d love to meet you in person!

Amy

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Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Wise Words from Mentors

“Walk with the wise and become wise….” (Prov. 13:20a)

This verse has been truly instructional for my life, and I’ve been changed as I live by it. Since I shared about coaching last week, I wanted to share some wisdom this week from some women who have been mentors of mine in the last 9 years, the Proverbs 31 Speaker Team. I asked our speaker team and the Online Bible Study Team to share their best piece of advice with you, and these are some of the responses:

“Never underestimate how the preparation for His presence proceeds the miracles of God.

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve showed up at an event and felt like God wasn’t even there because there was no preparing for Him to be there. Sometimes its because I didn’t spend enough time in worship and prayer for the event. When its all about the details it can be very easy for it not to be about the anointing of God.”  ~Nicki Koziarz

“The moment I say “yes” to an event, I connect with the event coordinator, and we pray together for the event. I then ask her to send me the names of the women who register for the event. As the names come in, they send them to me, and I begin praying for each woman by name. God uses this prayer time it to create a powerful connection with the women. When I arrive, they are not strangers. They are names etched in my heart…names I would sometimes linger over as I prayed. Meeting them is precious. My heart is already tender to them as I step onto the stage. I open each event telling them they have been prayed for by name. It creates something intangible between us…a supernatural connection via the Holy Spirit!”     ~Wendy Blight

When I first felt called to speak, I was excited about speaking but wasn’t exactly sure what I was supposed to speak about. As a result, I came up with topics that I thought would be of interest to many women, and created a message around it, even if I wasn’t an ‘expert’ or fully knowledgeable in that subject area, then would back them up with appropriate scripture references, and sprinkle in a few personal stories. But over time, I realized God called me to speak about specific topics based on the experiences He had brought me through, or times in my life when I had personally seen Him at work or experienced His intervention and guidance, and not just any random subject in the Bible.  I have learned that when we can share God’s truths based on our own experiences and wisdom, and not just Bible knowledge, hearts can really be moved.  So my advice would be to steer away from speaking about random subjects that you feel would be well received or popular, and instead, pray about what God has specifically and uniquely equipped you to talk about and stick to topics where your passion for the subject matter will be evident to all who listen to your message. ~Tracie Miles 

Place a person in the audience mentally as you prepare. No matter whether your message is humorous or poignant or teaching or mentoring, see that person — their needs, their heart, their feelings — as you write, as you pack, as you take care of details, as you pray, and even as you step onto the stage. This takes the focus off of the details, off of you, and on to the woman waiting to hear what God wants to speak into her heart. ~Suzie Eller

I love how each piece of advice is unique and reflects the heart and passion of each woman who gave it. I hope this is useful wisdom for you!

As your women’s ministry plans for fall events, would you keep the Proverbs 31 Speaker Team, each of these women (and me!) in mind as you prayerfully consider speakers? We’d love to serve your women and get to meet you in person!

Amy

 

 

 

 

 

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Tuesday, April 22, 2014

So Sorry!

I apologize for the funky spacing on yesterday’s post. If you got frustrated and gave up reading, click here to view the corrected version. :) Thanks for grace, friends!

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