Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Add-On Value for Your Audience

After taking care of a long list of tasks for our household today, I reflected again on how crazy-busy women’s lives are.  Because we live life on the fly, every added event has to be considered carefully, and most of us resort t0 the question “Will it be worth it?”

That’s the question that we want to answer for our audience.  The answer starts with a topic description that focuses on the take-aways for our listeners.  Folks don’t care near as much about what we have to “spout” as what they’ll receive.  It’s sounds pretty self-focused, but I have to admit that I do it too.  When I read a description for an event at my church, I’m evaluating if the event is offering something that fills gaps in my life.

One of the ways that I love to start adding value even before a retreat is to give attendees a Bible study for the week before.  I use the scripture for the event and give a reading and some questions to answer for each day.  The added bonus is that God starts speaking to hearts through His Word before I ever stand up to speak!

It’s also important to take the idea of giving your audience value into the event itself.  When I list take-aways, or values statements, in my description, I consider those my promises to my audience.  A fellow speaker told me that she recently attended a weekend retreat where the speaker spoke on different topics than promised in the topic description.  Although my friend tried to learn what she could, she came home feeling gyped.  She hadn’t been given what was promised (and she had been looking forward to the value described up front).

We can continue to bring value even after an event:

  • Provide a “Suggested Reading” list for further study.
  • Add some “Reflections” questions on your handout so that women can continue to process at home.
  • Give a favor with your focal verse or your “sticky statement” (focal idea).  Lots of times event coordinators love to work with you on the cost if you suggest it ahead of time.
  • Have a resource table with books that expand on your topic and/or cds of  your other messages that your audience can take home.

We should want our audiences to leave glad that they came, filled with the challenge of Truth and equipped for life transformation.  Focusing on the value that we’re bringing to our audiences is a big step toward meeting that goal.


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Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Teeter-Totter Messages

Messages can be basically one of three things:

They can be informational. Lots of facts, studies, statistics and other helpful trinkets allow the listener to gather useful material that will enable them to learn about the topic at hand.

They can also be inspirational. These talks make you laugh. They may make you cry. But common to all is that they make you want to get off of your seat and GO! You want to change and grow, explore and experience. Yes you do, if you’ve just heard an inspirational message.

 Messages can also be practical. These talks give you action-oriented steps that you can go home and immediately apply. They are logical and doable. They empower you to do life in a new or better way.

Some messages are heavy on one aspect and light on the others. They tip the teeter-totter toward one side only. Therefore? They are out of balance.

Now, here’s the kicker. The absolute BEST message? It will do all three! And it will balance them perfectly, creating lasting impact.

As you carefully craft your messages, ask yourself these little check-point questions:

  •  Am I giving enough raw, fact-driven information? This will be to establish credibility with your audience. It will show them that you know your topic and you have earned the right to teach on it.
  •  Do I offer inspiration? Your message should move the listener with emotion. They actually need to feel what you are saying, not just hear what you are saying.
  •  Have I given them practical take-away nuggets that they can go and implement right away? Make sure to provide your audience with doable, tangible ideas to be able to put the crux of your message into practice in their everyday life.

By carefully balancing your message with a blend of these three elements, you will be giving your audience a well-rounded and memorable message that will not only inspire them to want to change the way they do life, it will actually empower them to do it!


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Tuesday, April 10, 2012

The Opinion Blender

I remember standing in exhausted shock in the midst of my now-empty church after the first women’s ministry event  I coordinated.  I was the hero of the day, and I couldn’t quite take it all in.  After waving good-bye to attendee after gushing attendee, I looked at my friend Peggy and said, “I have no idea what to do with all of that praise.”

She smiled wickedly and said, “Don’t worry.  All the criticism is coming.”

She was right.

When you put yourself into a position of leadership of ANY kind–pastor, speaker, women’s ministry director, Sunday school teacher, etc–you will be introduced into the world of flying opinions.  They’ll swirl around you (the good, the bad, and the ugly), and if you’re not careful, they’ll totally engulf and consume you.

Mark Driscoll has been quoted as saying, “Pastors (insert your leadership position here) have lots of foes and lots of fans but very few friends.”  So true.

So what do we do with criticism?  Perry Noble gives this wise advise, “If you listen to the criticism, you’ll think you’re worse than you are.  If you listen to the praise, you’ll think you’re better than you are.  If you listen to your friends, you’ll stay on the tight rope of balance.”

I absolutely LOVE that advise, because I’ve struggled with wild swings of thinking that I must be the pits to thinking I’ve finally got it all together.  Both extremes are dangerous places to live.  I so love to live “on the tight rope of balance”.

To stay firmly on the tightrope, I think it’s important to define the term “friend”.  There have been times that I’ve mistaken both foes and fans as friends.  My true friends are the ones who love me deeply despite my flaws but also have a clear view of those flaws.  They’re the ones who don’t shrink back from telling the truth but who stir love, kindness and gentleness into those hard words.  They’re the ones who will give me grace and the benefit of the doubt on my bad days but shut the lights and close the doors on extended pity parties.  They’re the ones committed to do life with me even when it’s messy, but they bring Fantastic along for the ride.  They’re the ones who will celebrate my successes and mourn my defeats right by my side.  And I do the same for them.

These are the people that will keep me in balance as I strive to minister to others in a spirit of service and humility.

And what do we do with the praise?  My friend Jane, a gifted worship leader and singer, paraphrased a quote from Corrie Ten Boom when she passed on her secret to receiving praise.  Jane told me, “I take each compliment as a flower, and at the end of the day, I give the bouquet to Jesus.”  That advise has helped me so much.  My personality didn’t feel comfortable saying “Give Jesus all the glory” every time someone said something nice.  I WANT Jesus to get all the glory, though.  I just didn’t want the compliment-giver to feel rebuffed, so simply saying “thank you” while I receive the “flower” gratefully feels just right to me.

If you’re in leadership, I want to encourage you today.  You are not as bad as your foes say.  You’re also not as wonderful as your fans say.  :)  But you are loved servant of God on a journey to being like Jesus with others in your wake.  And that’s not only enough…it’s wonderful.


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Wednesday, April 4, 2012

What to Wear When You’re the Speaker

Amy here.  Today I’m so pleased to introduce my friend and fabulous fashionista, Shari Braendel, as our guest blogger.  Not only am I a better person from knowing this amazing women, I’m also better dressed!  She’s had that effect on our whole P31 team, so Karen and I can’t wait to share her with you.

When you’ve finished reading her fabulous tips for speakers, please visit to see some gorgeous samples of outfits that pass the “Shari test”.

The worship leader finishes her last song and the emcee approaches the stage to announce you, the speaker. You mentally go over your checklist to make sure you didn’t forget anything. Speaking notes, Bible, power point in place, gum swallowed. Whew, you remembered everything. Or did you?

Confident in the topic God has given you to share, are you as self-assured in your appearance and what you’ve chosen to wear?

What you wear to speak is an integral part of your presentation, because how you dress, the styles you choose, and the colors you pick are essential ingredients to showing off God in the very best possible light.

Your clothes can be a distraction or hindrance to your message. If your audience is focused on your too-big accessories, outdated hairstyle or too snug skirt, then basically the package you’re delivering is brought to the party without the proper wrapping.

Follow these 8 easy steps to true confidence in what you wear when you’re the speaker!

  1. Wear clothes that reflect your style, are up-to-date, and fit well.  Too-big, too-tight and sleeveless clothes are no-no’s. Don’t wear bulky or sheer fabrics, or too short dresses and skirts. Unpolished shoes or bags with loose threads look messy. Check to make sure heels and toes of shoes are in good shape.
  2. When was the last time you had a compliment on your hair? If it’s been awhile, make an appointment to get your hair cut or colored in a current, flattering style. No crazy, trendy, outlandish hairstyles or hair color.
  3. Wear colors that makes you shine! If you don’t know what they are, get a FREE  Color Analysis at www.ColorEnalysis.com  and find out the hues that make you glow.  Don’t wear black or wild prints.  Many backgrounds of stage/curtains tend to be dark so if you wear solid black you can look like a floating head, especially if they project you on the big screen!
  4. Wear soft makeup shades that compliment your natural coloring. The colors of your makeup should coordinate with your clothing and line up with your color analysis outcome. Even if you’re not used to wearing makeup, you still need some for the stage. Foundation, mascara and lipstick are essential.
  5. Basic manicure and good hygiene are important. The best color for your polish is a neutral shade or French manicure. No chipped polish, unpolished nails or strong perfume, please!
  6. Wear a good fitting bra. Get measured by a professional at a local department store to get the correct size and fit. Bust lines hanging too low or your headlights showing are a major distraction. Be careful, too, of lacy bras that can be seen through your clothes. Your bra straps should not be  showing, nor should cleavage.
  7. Proper undergarments are a must. Wear a shaper to hide any extra fluffiness (it’s not fat anymore!) Be certain panty lines aren’t showing through your clothes.
  8. Wear the right amount of accessories…not too many or too few. Earrings, necklace, bracelet, watch and no more than two rings are a good rule of  thumb. No baby-size or gigantic jewelry.

Once you’ve covered this checklist, you can be certain the message you’re delivering won’t be overpowered by the clothes you’re wearing and your audience will receive you with no distractions.  God will shine through you in a brilliant way! 

Shari Braendel
Considered America’s most popular Christian Fashionista, Shari Braendel believes the reason most women don’t feel confident in how they look and dress is because they’ve never been taught how. The author of Good Girls Don’t Have to Dress Bad, she speaks most weekends somewhere in the US helping women of all ages see themselves as beautiful while teaching them the how-to’s of putting themselves together. She is wife to Dave, mom to Luke and stepmom to adult triplet stepdaughters. She resides in Charlotte, North Carolina.  www.FashionMeetsFaith.com








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