My consuming love for travel prompted my grandmother to brand me as a girl with “wander-lust.” She’s right! Any airport in the world qualifies as one of my favorite places and a new stamp on my passport gives me heart palpitations. The most exciting journey I’ve ever been on, though, is my journey as a speaker.
You may not qualify yourself as a professional speaker, but with hearts pounding and palms sweating, most of us have to speak at some time or another. You may “just” lead a small Sunday school class or introduce the speaker at the next women’s event. All of it is important when done from obedience to Jesus, and I’d like to share a few things that make the ride more pleasurable.
Preparing for the Journey
Being a messenger of God’s Word carries responsibilities as well as joys. Just like every trip begins by preparing alone before you leave home, every speaking journey begins without a large audience. It begins by cultivating an intimate relationship with an audience of One, God Himself. We’ll never be perfect or become worthy to speak, but we are called to teach out of a vibrant, growing relationship with God.
Packing Your Bags
Preparing an excellent message is a daunting and important task for every speaker. Becoming students of the craft means we are constantly improving our content and delivery. The goal isn’t that we are known but that we make Jesus better known.
Reading books on speaking and communication, listening to excellent speakers, and attending conferences are several ways we can work to improve our messages. Andy Stanley’s book Communicating for a Change, Made to Stick by Dan and Chip Heath, and The Reason We Speak edited by Marybeth Whalen are some must-reads I recommend.
You can find free podcasts by many excellent speakers online. As you listen to some of your favorites, analyze what makes their messages effective. Some of our Proverbs 31 Ministries speakers have CDs available that you could listen to for this very purpose.
There are some excellent speakers conferences. For example, She Speaks, Proverbs 31 Ministries’ summer conference for speakers, writers, and women’s ministry leaders offers an excellent opportunity to perfect your message, delivery, and more.
Choose topics to speak on that express your God-given passions and speak with your own distinct voice. God has created you uniquely so you can speak into the hearts and lives of specific women, so don’t try to imitate someone else. Your voice and your story are important and need to be heard.
Marketing is a place of great inner-conflict for most speakers. How do you let others know that you are available without too much self-promotion? This was a huge struggle for me until I realized that I didn’t need to market myself. I needed to market the message God had given me. That’s a whole different focus about which I could get passionate!
Tracie Miles wrote a series of excellent blog posts for Next Step Speaker Services, which are a tremendous resource for speakers desiring to get the word out. You can link to the first post in the series by clicking here. It’s an amazing free resource!
Enjoy the Scenery
As you travel down the road on your speaking journey, you’ll encounter all kinds of challenges, but it’s a joyful journey too. An incredible woman in ministry named Mimi Neighbors told me, “I have a front-row seat to the greatest show on earth!” She’s right. It’s not always an easy journey, but I’m constantly amazed that I am invited by God to join Him in spreading the Word.
Someone asked me recently, “What would your experienced-speaker-self tell your beginning- speaker-self?” I only paused a minute to think before replying, “Relax. Rejoice. And enjoy the journey.” I’d say the same to you!
I’d love to give a gift to one of you today! Please leave a comment telling whether you love or loathe speaking and why. We’ll randomly choose a commenter to win a copy of The Reason We Speak edited by Marybeth Whalen as well as a CD of Lysa TerKeurst’s “Fear-Less” message. I’ll throw speaker tips into the comments throughout the day to add to the fun!
Amy Carroll is a speaker for Proverb 31 Ministries and Director of Next Step Speaker Services. She lives in North Carolina with her three favorite guys and a little, red dachshund. You can find Amy on any given day typing at her computer, reading a book, coaching speakers, or trying to figure out an alternative to cooking dinner. Visit Amy at www.amycarroll.org and find weekly tips for speakers at www.nextstepspeakerservices.org/blog.