Tuesday, January 10, 2017

17 Ways to Grow Your Speaking Ministry in 2017

 

2017 has begun! Do you feel the anticipation of a fresh start? Or the dread of feeling overwhelmed by the possibilities?

I loved Melanie’s post last week on choosing one resolution. I felt myself relax and sigh in relief at the weight of self-imposed expectations lifting off of me. I hope it gave you a sense of hope too.

One of the ways I have to approach growth and change is to make a pray-oritized (prioritizing under God’s direction) list, and I’d love to give you some ideas that you may want to put on your list this year as you seek to grow your speaking ministry. Having a list helps me to keep me from being overwhelmed as a work on one item at a time.

Speaking is a never-ending learning curve of always stretching to communicate in a clearer, more compelling way. No matter where you are in your speaking–a beginner or a seasoned veteran– you can take tangible steps to grow your speaking ministry. Here are my top seventeen tips for 2017:

  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. Write down what God shows you and ask Him to help you pray-oritize your steps. 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. My top two suggestions are Communicating for a Change by Andy Stanley and Made to Stick by Chip and Dan Heath.
  5. Schedule time each week to work on your speaking ministry–studying, writing new messages or working on marketing tasks. Put it on your calendar and protect the time!
  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. You can go the website today to sign up for an email alert when registration opens. Last year there were 1,000 women on the waiting list, so if this is your year, please, please register early so that you don’t miss out.
  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 (smart phones make this super easy) and 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. Create an updated sample speaking video for your website this year. I went years and years without a video on my website until a friend of mine who is an event planner said, “I would never hire a speaker without seeing a sample video!” It should be short and contain your best moments. Click here and scroll down a little to watch the video produced for me last year. I’m in the midst of working on another one this year. It’s that important!!
  11. 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.
  12. Listen to great speakers and analyze the structure of their messages.  A few of my favorites are any of my Proverbs 31 sisters, Jennifer Dukes Lee (a former coaching client), Andy Stanley and Ravi Zacharias.
  13. 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: Reshma SaujaniDiana NyadBill GatesJane FondaAmy Cuddy, and my all-time favorite, genius TED Talk by Jane McGonigal.
  14. Choose 12 of Tracie’s marketing ideas, and implement one each month this year.
  15. 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.
  16. Listen to podcasts for communicators. Communicator Academy by Kathi Lipp and Michele Cushatt has shows on topics for both speakers and writers. I don’t miss an episode!
  17. And last but not least…use Next Step Speaker Services to help you individually with message development, editing your writing, message evaluation, developing marketing pieces. If you’d like to schedule a FREE CONSULTATION CALL click here

Melanie and I are here to be your cheerleaders for all of 2017! We’re in this growth process right along with you, so let’s take some next steps together.

I’d love to hear your thoughts if you’re planning your speaking year! Which of these tips will you add to your pray-oritized t0-do list? How about copying this list and putting it into your own Word doc so that you can add, delete, and change the order according to your pray-orities?

Amy

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Thursday, January 5, 2017

Don’t Miss the Moment

I love the start of a new year filled with possibilities and freshness, a chance to look forward and take steps in a new direction.

And, yes, I even love making New Year’s Resolutions.

I’m embracing some small changes – not sleeping with makeup on and taking care of yucky paperwork immediately rather than procrastinating.

And I’m also moving forward with one bigger resolution.  That’s right.  Just one. In the past I found I didn’t like resolutions because I never could stick with my list of fifteen or so resolutions. That failure defeated and deflated me.

So I’ve found a way to resolve and then realize my one New Year’s Resolution.

Consider adopting these steps, too!

Keep it simple. I often failed in the past because I tried to realize too many goals. So now I reach for one, doable goal.  For example, my resolution this year:

Don’t miss the moment. 

Let me explain a little about my resolution this year. I have a busy, busy mind.  I think about writing ideas, the errands I need to run, is it time to color my hair, or the conversation I just had with a son.  I also ruminate on the past – a lot – to the extent that I miss out on the present.  That’s some of the reasoning behind my resolution. I want to savor and sing in the new moments God brings in 2017.

Find a verse to support your resolution. Pray about this, and trust me – you will find a verse to support a heart’s desire in line with God’s will.

My verse:

Psalm 98:1

O sing to the Lord a new song,

for He has done wonderful things.

Pray about your resolution each day. Read your chosen Scripture each day. Find other related verses. Praise Him. Sing to Him in thanks for the new moments.

Let the Lord produce the new thing in you. Let’s not make this year about measuring ourselves against an imaginary yardstick that is omnipresent for so many of us.

Let’s soak in His presence; worship and adore Him. This will release a new thing in us, like a watered seed bursting from the ground to green stalk, buds, and flowers. Or like a song bursting from the deepest part of our souls. 

That’s it! I’d love for you to join me in keeping your resolution simple this year.  

If your one resolution includes getting a speaking or writing project completed, Amy and I at Next Step would love to help you.

Melanie

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Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Celebrating with You

 

In the new Communicator Academy podcast hosted by Kathi Lipp and Michele Cushatt, they always end by saying, “You’ve been given the very best message in the world. Now go live it!”

Oh, sisters. We truly do have the world’s greatest message and the best news ever to share. Jesus came. He lived a sinless life in the midst of us that He gave up on the cross. He was resurrected in victory over death to give us victory over the fatality of our sin.

It makes your heart soar, doesn’t it?

This week I’m thankful to celebrate Emmanuel, God With Us, with you!

Worship.

Celebrate.

Rest.

Soak.

Enjoy.

Merry Christmas,  y’all!

Melanie & Amy

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Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Sweet Aroma of Christ

 

Certain sights, sounds, and scents trigger Christmas memories and highlight what we like most about the holiday season.  Today’s verse makes me focus on the scents of Christmas.

2 Corinthians 2:14,15, “But thanks be to God, who always leads us in triumph in Christ, and manifests through us the sweet aroma of the knowledge of  Him in every place.  For we are a fragrance of Christ…” (NAS)

Along with fragrances like hot chocolate simmering, sugar cookies baking, peppermint candles burning, what does the sweet aroma of Christ smell like?  And more importantly, how do we manifest the fragrance of Christ, especially during the Christmas season?

christmas-mugs

Maybe some of these ideas will help sweeten our aroma.

… spend quiet time every day with Jesus, even if it’s just a few minutes.  Our sweet aroma comes from soaking in Jesus, not trying harder.

… lay down perfection when it comes to Christmas decorations or other traditions.

… show grace with a challenging relative.

…be completely present, listening attentively, unrushed, with a good friend or relative.

…extend patience with cashiers in stores.

…ask family members to choose their favorite Christmas tradition.  Can you do just those things?

…Consider not saying yes to every invitation.

…Call a friend or relative you haven’t talked to in a long time.

…Take a walk in the woods.  Enjoy the hushed quiet.

…Have a pajama night with your family and watch a favorite Christmas movie.

…There’s a time for everything… maybe put aside writing or speaking projects right now, if you can.  Focus on time with the Lord, friends, and family.

May all our Christmases be filled with the sweet aroma of Christ, wherever we go and whenever we speak.

Melanie

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Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Only You

 

For years when Karen Ehman led our Proverbs 31 speaker team, she gave us an incredible gift–she evaluated messages for us. I faithfully sent one every so often because I learned a tremendous amount from her feedback.

Here’s a re-run of a post by Karen back when she coached with me that includes one of my favorite funny/disasterous stories that she tells. I’m thrilled to share her wisdom with you today!

________________________________________________________________________________

I remember sitting with my friend as she tried to figure out what went wrong. She was a workshop leader at the conference at which we both were speaking. A seasoned communicator, she had opened her session by telling a hilarious story she had snatched off the Internet. While usually the women in her audience roar loudly with laughter at the telling of the tale, that particular morning her funny story had been met with only a few nervous, awkward giggles.

“I can’t figure it out.” She exclaimed to me. “That story has always been such a great opener. Maybe it was my delivery.”

Since I had been in another room teaching my session at the same time, I hadn’t heard the story so I asked her to tell it to me. A few sentences in, I stopped her to inform her exactly why it had bombed.

“Oh no!” I declared. “Weren’t you in the opening main session this morning?” She responded that she had left a few minutes before it ended so she could get to her room and go over her notes before her breakout session started 15 minutes later.

“The keynote speaker in the opening main session ENDED her message with that exact same story!”

So, the women at that conference were told the same story. Yes, just moments apart.

While there is certainly nothing wrong with telling a joke or story or even reading a quote that you found on the Internet, the only way to be sure that your audience hasn’t heard the material in your talk before is to generate your own unique content. But how?

Here are a few methods I have learned over the years:

~ Keep a notepad in your purse. When you see something funny happen, jot it down. When you witness an altercation or interesting interaction, write it in your notebook. Always be on the lookout for situations that happen in your personal life that you might be able to use to make a point or open a message and set up the topic of your talk.

~ Keep a notepad on your nightstand. Some of our best ideas come at bedtime or even in the middle of the night. Also keep a pen and notebook next to your bed so that you can record these too. You know if you wait until morning you may forget. Or, you will be so worried about forgetting that you won’t get to sleep!

~ Watch your loved ones. Oft times our families and friends can provide some great material too. One of your kids needed to learn a lesson the hard way? Does it translate into how God disciplines us? Your spouse have a difficult interaction at work? Your sister have a crazy encounter with a wild animal? Record it and ask God how it might fit into one of your talks.

~ Take a trip down memory lane. Every so often let your mind wander back in time. Type up stories from your own life; from grade school; high school; young adulthood or even last year. Keep them in a file on your computer and check them out every so often to see if one can slip nicely into a message you are working on.

~ Look to scripture more than to social media. Do not spend time just poking around the Internet looking for material. Spend time in God’s word growing your relationship with Him. A strong connection with God is your absolute best resource for great speaking material!

With a little pre-planning and purposeful recording, you can generate some relevant material and thus deliver a unique message that only you can give. And you’ll have no fear that your audience has ever heard it before.

Visit Karen’s delightful blog and make sure to check out her wonderful new book Listen. Love. Repeat.

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Tuesday, November 29, 2016

When You’re Facing an Empty Calendar

 

Happy Tuesday, friends! I hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving and are treating yourself tenderly in recovery week. Christmas is coming, but it’s ok to take a nap today if you need it. You have my permission! 🙂

I’m going to write a short-ish post today because I really need your help with some problem-solving. I hope we’ll pull together here in our community to share some ideas that will help us all. Please read and then share a comment–it won’t be the same if you don’t add to the conversation!

Here’s the problem I’m facing that I’m guessing you’ve faced from time to time too:

My speaking calendar is almost empty for 2017.

First of all, is it safe to confess to you that I felt a little shame typing out that statement? Eeeeekkkk! Here I am part of a national ministry with a huge platform of its own and a speaking coach, but nobody is currently asking me to speak. Seriously, y’all. It’s pretty much crickets.

Have you ever experience this kind of season?

I want to go ahead and call it a season because I’ve seen it before and have lived to tell about it. Before I launch into ideas about how to solve “the problem”, let me first acknowledge that it might not be a problem. It might be God’s grace.

For example, during the whirlwind year that I wrote, edited, launched and promoted my book, my coaching clients were almost non-existent. One day when I expressed my concerns to Barry that my speaker coaching seemed to be “dying”, he said, “Really, Amy? When would you have time to coach anybody? I think this is God’s grace for you.”

Sure enough! The book stuff has slowed way down, and the coaching has picked back up to record speeds this year. I’m thankful that God knows me better than I know myself, and He always provides my portion. Nothing more. Nothing less.

If your calendar is empty too, prayerfully consider this. God may know what’s coming in 2017 and know that we won’t be able to meet the expectations of a busier schedule. He may want us to pull away for a time of rest. Maybe He wants to do a work in us that He couldn’t accomplish if we were speaking.

But there’s another thing that might be happening. He might be waiting for us to take steps of obedience. My wise and experienced friend says it this way:

I’ll keep my eyes open for what God’s doing, but I’m feeling led to take some pro-active steps to build my speaking calendar. Here’s what’s on my list:

Create a new sample video— I had one produced last year, but I’ve got another message videoed that is begging to become a sample. I want it to look fresh and to be a second tool I can use on my website and social networks.

Have some outsiders look in— Based on some great advice my savvy friend Lisa Allen gave in a Compel training, I am going to schedule two people to look at my website and give me advice about how to highlight my speaking more effectively. One friend is the founder of Vend Raleigh, a networking group for mompreneurs, so she’s genius at connecting through social networks and media. She’s also an event planner, so she’ll be able to look at my site from that point of view. She does this professionally, so this coach will be paying for some coaching. My other friend is a speaker who has been taking some classes on building your blog. She’s innovative and will help me up my game, and she’s bartering her services for mine. (Just wanted to give you an idea on a budget but to also say that a monetary investment is sometimes needed.)

Contact event planners from my past events— I feel a deep connection to the event planners I’ve served, so I’d love to get to minister with them again. I’ve already built trust with them, so an update with an expressed desire to come back will (hopefully) be received well.

Now it’s your turn! What kinds of steps have you taken to fill your speaking calendar? Please share the good, the bad, and the ugly. We’d love to learn from what’s worked as well and to save time by knowing what hasn’t.

Amy

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Thursday, November 24, 2016

We Thank God

we-always

It’s a seriously wonderful thing to be part of this group of Speaker Girls. You are loved, and we give thanks for you.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Amy & Melanie

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Tuesday, November 15, 2016

A Resource You Cannot Miss

 

Goodness gracious! Be still my resource junkie heart!

Ya’ll know how much I love a fabulous resource, and I’m sending this bonus post to share one that you simply can’t miss. The fabulous Kathi Lipp and Michele Cushatt have started a new podcast for speakers called Communicator Academy.

Several weeks ago, I got the chance to do an interview with them that you can listen to by clicking the graphic below. Please visit, listen, and see what I mean. I don’t want to miss a single episode!

communicator-academy

Last week, I had a little road trip, and I listened to Michele and Kathi all the way there and all the way back. My only regret is that I was driving, so I couldn’t take notes.

I wanted you to know and have access. You’re welcome. 🙂

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Monday, November 14, 2016

Loving Words and The Word

 

Do you remember when you fell in love with words?

I like to think my love for words was birthed even before I was physically born, as my mom was a voracious reader, reading book after book during her pregnancy with me.

I remember as a young girl curling up with books…Berenstein Bears, Harriet the Spy, Nancy Drew mysteries and Judy Blume books.

I remember turning words into stories on my mom’s manual typewriter.

And then I remember falling in love with the Word, Jesus.

John 1:1, “In the beginning was the Word,
            and the Word was with God,
            and the Word was God.” 

blog-graphic

On a dark, starry night, while sitting on a rock at the foot of a mountain in North Carolina, Jesus, the Word, captured my heart forever.

And from that point on was it God’s plan to intermingle the words I love with the Word I love even more?

I began to delight in books containing more of the Word.  Christian writers and books left an imprint – Elizabeth Elliot, My Utmost for His Highest, Elizabeth George, and my first Bible, a paperback version called The Way.

Recalling the stepping-stones leading to my writing life turns my heart toward Jesus with thankfulness.

Today can you take some time to do the same?  Reflect with thankfulness the stepping-stones leading to your calling of being a writer for the Word.

Jesus, Thank you for all the stepping-stones leading to our calling of speaking and writing for You.  I pray You will fill us with creativity, truth, and perseverance.  May our ears and hearts hear only your voice of love, encouragement and power.  Protect us from discouragement, naysayers, and our own insecurities.  May our words, whether public or private, be a beautiful offering to You, the most beautiful Word of all.  Amen. 

I’d love to help you with your writing.  I offer writing coaching and editor services.  Check out specific options on our Next Step site under Writing Services.

Melanie

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Monday, November 7, 2016

Why It’s Essential to Refresh

Following an intense year and a half of writing my book, launching my book, and promoting my book along with all the other ministry hats I wear, I was toast. Done. Stick a fork in me.

I was sick of writing, and sick-and-tired of sitting behind a computer screen alone instead of in the company of others which is my favorite. The thought of typing one more word made my shoulders clench with anxiety, and I should have had a massage therapist on speed dial.

I needed to give myself permission to rest and refresh, so I did. I started months in advance telling people that I was taking a writing sabbatical. That gave them the wrong impression, though. “Oh, that’s so nice that you’re taking time away to write,” they all said.

“Oh NO!” I’d quickly correct them. “I’m taking a sabbatical AWAY from writing!”

Thanks to all my wise speaker friends who stepped in here to keep the content flowing. It went all crickets on my personal blog except for posting links to Grit ‘n’ Grace. Guess what? I lost a few subscribers, but I kept my sanity. Turns out the world doesn’t revolve around my blog posts after all. 🙂

I have to tell you that it was a bliss-filled month of no writing. I basked in every minute of it, but I started the month with a purpose.

I wanted to do life tasks that had gone undone: (You know it’s been a long time since you’ve done these things when you actually enjoy them tremendously!)

  • Painting my boys’ rooms which are now a guest room and an office.
  • Washing windows.
  • Re-caulking the shower.
  • Cleaning out the attics.
  • Oh… this list was glorious and lengthy!

I wanted to seek God about what should stay and what should go. I asked Him to show me:

  • Which “hats” needed to be taken off.
  • Which assignments were ongoing.
  • Which roles needed mending, renewing, or rethinking.

It’s funny because I thought I’d come back to you with an overhaul of what I’d be doing, but that didn’t happen at all. God didn’t show me anything that needed removed. He just spoke to me about true Sabbaths and better time management. He also gave me new vision and renewed desire to do what I had been doing.

I knew that I was getting my groove back when early in the month I attended an American/Indian wedding, and I thought of a blog post that I can’t wait to write. I hadn’t been excited to write in ages! Stay tuned to my blog if you want to see that one coming up, and there’s some great video to share too.

Do you need a time of reflection and rest so that you can be refreshed? I encourage you to take it! Not much about my work or schedule has changed, but my heart has shifted back into a place of excitement and gratitude. My windows are still smudgy, but my vision is sharp and clear!

—————————————————————————————————————————————–

Note: I had completely forgotten to choose a winner for Wendy Pope’s Wait and See giveaway, but I remembered today. Congratulations, Iris Peterson!! I’ve sent you an email, so if you haven’t heard from me, please check your spam filter. 🙂

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