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!

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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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Thursday, June 16, 2016

Tips for She Speaks 2016

It’s only 5 weeks until She Speaks!!! Even though I know you’re not all going this year, I’d love to whet your whistle for going at some point and to encourage those of you who are going.

Years ago, I wrote a series of tips on She Speaks that tap into my first experience as an attendee. You can read the series by clicking on each link below:

Tip 1

Tip 2

Tip 3

Tip 4

Tip 5

Tip 6

Do you have any questions about She Speaks either as a 2016 attendee or a possible future attendee? I’d love to answer them in the comments!

_______________________________________________________________________________

BTW: My friend Cheri Gregory and I have started a new podcast. We’re so excited, and we’d love for you to check it out by clicking here!

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Monday, February 22, 2016

Reader Question 5

 

I’m having so much fun answering your questions, and judging by your comments, I’d say these are hitting areas we’ve all dealt with or wondered about! I’ve got 2 more in my “questions stash”, so if you’ve got another one to add, go ahead and either leave it in the comments to be answered for the whole group or email it to me at amy@proverbs31.org. I’ll answer until there are no more questions. 🙂

Here’s today’s question:

I was speaking with a woman up at my church, who I deeply respect and know that she loves the Lord with all her might.  We were talking about an upcoming conference at our church where we will both be speaking.  She is leading the conference and as she was explaining the vision for this conference and trying to describe the type of messages the conference was going for she said, “There’s a difference between speaking and teaching.”

This truly threw me into a tailspin because I had always thought that when I “spoke” I was teaching!  That exact same phrase came up again with the other ladies speaking at the same conference (there are 4 speakers) and I had to get some clarification.  Turns our our definitions of “speaking” were different – they were simply thinking of someone who basically stood up and didn’t connect with the audience.  So, I guess my question is, have you ever found this to be true – a difference between speaking vs. teaching?  I had always considered them to be the same – when I speak I teach, when I teach, I speak. ~Kate

Kate, I agree with you. If we are effective communicators, we’ll include a variety of aspects of great communication. No matter the setting or the style, there are three things that we want to include in all messages: information, application, and inspiration. Here’s how these break down.

Information includes all the facts in our messages. A wide range of elements fall under information, and they can include statistics, word studies from Bible passages, the passages themselves, historical background, details found through research, etc.

Application is the practical tools, action steps, and challenges that we include in our messages that lead to transformation in others’ lives. We don’t want to step into “preachiness” here, but we want to give our audience a concrete step to take once they’re home. As Karen Ehman pointed out to me, people are either too spiritually immature or too busy to figure out the next step by themselves. We need to make it plain so that they’re more likely to move toward change.

Inspiration creates a dynamic of forward motion in our messages. This content is what creates a desire in our audience to go live the truths we’ve shared. Lysa TerKeurst always says, “Application is the ‘how to.’ Inspiration is the ‘want to.'” Inspirational material includes stories, quotes, and using words to paint a picture of the benefits of change. These elements show our audience what it would look like to live in the power of the truth you’ve imparted.

For those of us who want to deeply impact our listeners’ lives (and I hope we all do–I’m fairly horrified that “speakers” were defined as people who don’t care about this!), we need to include information, application, and inspiration in every message, no matter the setting.

Having said that, I believe that the setting affects the balance of these essential elements. I always think of “teaching” as what I do in a Bible study setting. Although I’ll include the other elements because they’re all important to engage and motivate, I’ll spend the majority of the time on information and application.

In contrast, at a different kind of event like mother-daughter tea or a spring luncheon, I’ll spend lots of time on inspiration. No one is taking notes, so a message laden with information would be ineffective and inappropriate in the setting. I always build my messages around scripture, and I always want there to be transformation at my events so information and application would play a part. They would just take less time.

Does anyone else have thoughts about teaching and speaking? Are they the same or different to you? How do you define each?

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Wednesday, October 14, 2015

It’s Coming

In case you haven’t noticed, Christmas is coming! (If you’ve been in any retail stores this week, I’m sure you’ve been alerted. Hello? Mid-October?!)

So I’m wondering… are any of you speaking at a Christmas event? It’s often a busy season for speakers, and I pray that God is opening doors for you.

If you’re speaking in December, there’s plenty of time to get ready, and I’d like to propose some coaching to you. Working as a coach is hugely gratifying, because I can flex to meet your needs. Here are a few options for getting ready for your December event:

  • Message Development– If you are creating a brand new message, we could start this six-week service (5 30-minute phone calls) together next week and be finished by the end of November. Message development takes a big task and breaks it into do-able chunks. I’ll love to put my head together with yours to create a fresh message!
  • Message Evaluation– Having another speaker critique one of my messages is the most valuable growing experiences I’ve had as a speaker. I’d love to do it for you! We could do one call where I give you feedback on a recorded/videoed message from the past. It sounds scary, but I promise it’s not. I’ll give you honest feedback (that’s what you pay for, right?), but I’m an encourager at heart who loves to find the strengths in every message.
  • Specialized Speaker Call– Would you love to have an audience before you stand in front of your audience? I can read the message you’ve created and give you written feedback that we’ll discuss in a single phone call.

Maybe you have a specialized need, and you’re not sure if I can help. I’m super honest in my free consultations, and if I can’t help, I’ll give you a referral.

To talk through the options, just fill out the form on the Request Information page. I’ll be back with you quickly to set up a FREE phone consultation to answer any questions about speaker services.

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