Monday, August 11, 2014

Fall Jump-Start: Q & A Week 2

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

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

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

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

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

Amy

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

Webcast Graphic[6]

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Monday, August 4, 2014

Fall Jump-Start: Q & A Week 1

Hi, friends! I’m back!! Thank you so much for sticking with me during my July blogging hiatus. I feel refreshed and ready to jump back into blogging and speaking … almost.

For most of us, August is still a month of vacations, back-to-school and a few more long summer nights sitting on the deck. September really marks the beginning of the speaking/women’s ministry season, so we’ve got just a little time left.

Let’s make it a time to work through some questions … to plan … to dream together.

DIY-To-Do-Weekly-Agenda-List-Notepad-Free-Printable-Download

I promised when I came back to answer the questions you left in the comments and sent to my email box, so I’ll be doing that at least through the month of August, ending with a short series on speaker fees. I know that’s one area most of us find difficult, so we’ll build to that topic.

Here’s the first question from Terri: (Stay tuned for some free resources at the end of the post too.)

My ministry-related question that’s plaguing me relates to this: I founded a single-parent ministry several years ago and just published a book for single moms while working full time. Now I work part-time, but still struggle with the juggling/balancing act. I’ve recently realized that we’ve been running the ministry in a “cart-before-the-horse” mode and have come to a standstill. We don’t have a formal Board and I know this is crucial. God is the one who opened all doors for the ministry, therefore, I know He’ll provide as I step aside and pray for the leaders He wants. I also need to work on 2 more books to follow the one just published, and market, promote, etc. My plaguing question is this: I have lost all my want-to. No passion, fire or vision is left. I was a single mom for 19 years, knowing He called me to this ministry and to write for single moms. I’m 54, remarried to a wonderful man, but have hit a brick wall. I know all the biblical answers, believe, trust and love Jesus to the core, which is why I’m perplexed with this. Help!

Terri, this question is super important, because I think we’ve all been at this level of overwhelmed at some point. Some of us live in that place of exhaustion. It seems like there are so many demands placed on all of us as women, but ministry adds a whole other dimension of giving. Having said that, I know we women who love Jesus have a deep sense that ministry for Him should be a joy, not a burden. How do we do it?

I’ve got several ideas:

  • Make a prioritized list– Just reading Terri’s question makes me tired. She’s truly carrying a huge load! Even with a big load, though, I believe multi-tasking is a myth. She Speaks attendees often have the same reaction to all the information they’ve been presented as you have to all the tasks on your list. I always give the same advice to them. Make a huge long list of action items for the things you want to do. During an extended time with the Lord (maybe even a day retreat full of prayer, Bible study and worship), present your list to Him and ask Him to help you to order and prioritize your list. Then just work through the list one item at a time. Our tendency is to look at the length of the list, the number of tasks or the amount of information, to become overwhelmed and then to shut down. If we’ll take the “I can only do what I can do” approach, focusing on doing one task well at a time, the mental weight lifts.
  • Build a team–I think Terri is on the right track with creating a board. If you are a non-profit, a board is required. If you’re not, then building a support prayer and volunteer team may be the first step. My friend Tara started her ministry with a volunteer team. As her ministry grew, she became a non-profit, added a board and has hired some of her original team into part-time positions. Also, I’m watching miraculous things happen with Proverbs 31 Ministries, and I believe the explosive growth is happening primarily because our team has expanded to include many gifts and points of view. Not only will you be lightning your load by building a team, you’ll get the joy of seeing the body of Christ function as it was designed!
  • Know when to say yes and when to say no–Reading about how God has provided not only ministry opportunities but a wonderful husband for Terri brought tears to my eyes. He is so good! We have to know when to work and when to revel in rest. We have to know when to prioritize the gifts called family and when to turn our attention to writing, speaking, etc. Now I’m going to give a shameless plug for a book I’m bursting to tell the world about…Lysa TerKeurst’s book The Best Yes which is releasing Aug. 12 is the best book I’ve ever read on this topic, and it’s my favorite book of Lysa’s ever. Truly. She’s doing a free webcast on launch day with information I know will help us all with the area of overload and over busyness. Click here to pre-register for the webcast. Click here to sign up for 5 free days of “Unrush Me” devotions.

I hope this helps, Terri, and I hope you’ve each gotten some ideas of how to manage the overload you feel. If you have any wise words about taming more list than day,  please share with us in the comments. We’d love to hear from you!

Bonus: Click here to download this cute free to-do list above.

Amy

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Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Rest and a Request

Happy summer to you, friends!

A few weeks ago as I sat down to write a Next Step blog post, I realized I was tired and feeling out of material. Instead of being discouraging, it occurred to me that it was a call to action. I need two things: rest and your input.

First, I’m taking the month of July to rest entirely from blogging and social media. But I’ll be back in August full of new vim and vigor! She Speaks is part of the July mix, so I’ll definitely come back to you inspired and full of new information.

Here’s what I’d love to ask of you … would you send me the speaker or ministry related questions that are plaguing you? I know being in speaking ministry can be very lonely. You may feel like no one around you understands your calling or what you do. You may not have a person in your life to turn to with questions, but you’ve got me! I’d love to answer your questions right here on the blog so everyone in our speaker community can benefit and share their own solutions. You can email your questions to me at amy@proverbs31.org or just leave them in the comments section of this post.

So until August, I’m signing off, but I hope you have a wonderful July full of the delights of summer…

  • Extra time with friends and family
  • Evening hours to sit outside
  • Watermelon!
  • Celebrating our great country
  • Toes dipped into the water
  • Concerts in the park
  • Drippy ice cream cones

These are some of my favorites. Hope you’re enjoying yours!

Amy

 

 

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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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