Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Build It Right and They Will Come

Today I’m pleased to have my wise and wonderful friend Suzie Eller guest-posting for us.  Suzie has been a leader on our Proverbs 31 team in helping us to use social networking to its maximum potential.  Here is her advice for speakers as we utilize social networking to spread the word about our message and build our platform.

“Like me, okay?”

“If you like me, I’ll like you back.”

This isn’t a note written in grade school, but rather a conversation I witnessed on a Facebook group created after She Speaks last year. Many were so excited about building a platform that they rushed home and created Facebook pages, blogs, and Twitter accounts without a second thought.

Build it and they will come. Right?

Maybe that worked for Kevin Costner in Field of Dreams, but it doesn’t work for social media. In the end, you may grow a small network of writers and speakers or family and friends, but soon interest will fade. Worse, you’ll feel like you invested a lot of effort for nothing.

Rather than “like me”, ask this question: Who do you really want to reach?

To answer that, long before you start a Facebook page, your first tweet, or blog, you create a blueprint. In order to build an effective social media platform that will draw a niche audience to your message, you need to answer these questions:

  • What  is my core message?
  • How will I communicate that message throughout my entire social media platform?
  • Who is my audience, and how will I reach that person with solid content and value?
  • How much time am I willing to devote?

Today, let’s tackle the first!

Your core message is the underlying theme as you speak or write. It’s your life experiences and the message burning on your heart. It weaves into every aspect of your online presence. It’s you!

Let’s say you are a fashionista mom blogger. You write about fashion, your thrift store finds, how to put a great look together, but you also write about spiritual beauty.

Your core message might look like this: You can live within a budget, have five kids, and still look great!

It’s important to define your core message because it will show up as the underlying theme in your books, in your messages, in your blog posts, and in your FB group and tweets.

It identifies you as you!

But there’s more. It can also help you define your tag line, which might be “breaking out of the mom jeans. . . together!”

Knowing your core message will help you create categories that naturally fit like thrifty spending, fashion tips, spiritual beauty, etc., which leads to hundreds of niche ideas under each of those categories for blog posts or vlogs or magazine articles or books. . .

  •  all wrapped around a common topic
  •  that meet the felt need of a specific audience looking for you
  •  that brand you across cyberspace
  •  that helps an editor make a decision about your book
  •  that  tells speaking coordinators what their audience would receive when you come to their church to speak

You see, Kevin Costner was close. Rather than standing in cyberspace asking others to “like you”, you have the opportunity to create a platform that will not just sit like a cobweb in cyberspace, but reach a targeted, but broad audience seeking your message and you.

Build it right, and they will come.

T. Suzanne Eller (Suzie) is a Proverbs 31 speaker and author. She hosts two thriving FB groups: Moms       Together (facebook.com/MomsTogether) and Living Free (facebook.com/LiveIntentionallyFree), reaching over 14,000 people daily.






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Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Stretching and Growing

“If you’re not growin’, you’re dyin’.”

I love that quote as applied to spiritual growth, but I’m also challenged to continue growing as a speaker.  Recently I’ve found myself thinking a lot about the weight of responsibility that we carry along with the blessing of our speaker calling.

I never want to get over that weight.

For me, getting over the weight of responsibility would mean that I’ve wandered into the dangerous territory of self-sufficiency, so I keep asking God to raise the bar for me.  I want to be an increasingly better teacher and speaker, not so that I can be known as a great speaker, but so that the Gospel is communicated effectively and winsomely and God is glorified as a result.

So today I want to share some ways that I keep growing as a speaker:

1.  Take advantage of outside resources–One great resource that has been both feeding a pushing me is Preaching Rocket.  Although they provide a subscription service for pastors, they also have a Free Resources page that you just can’t miss.  You can sign up for their emails and get in on their fantastic free webinars.

2.  Keep honing message development skills–Every time I learn something new about developing effective messages, I realize how much I still have to learn.  This really is a journey!  You’ve heard me say how much Andy Stanley’s book Communicating for a Change has impacted me.  I still love it and use it extensively, but I’m also trying to break out of my formula-loving, rule-following ways just a little.  Even Andy doesn’t follow his own outline in every sermon (!), and I’m trying to be more flexible and creative about writing my messages while including the essential parts.  Whether you’re a beginning speaker or a pro, if you would like to hear someone else’s perspective on message development, we’d love to have you join us for Brass Tacks, our next conference call.  I’ll share some of the new things I’m learning!

3.  Ask others “How do you do that?”–Just over a year ago, I watched my friend Lynn Cowell speak, and I was struck with the powerful connection she had with her audience.  She had notes on the stage but barely used them.  I was convicted about my own heavy leaning on my notes, so I asked her how she was able to internalize her message so thoroughly.  Lynn shared several great tips including how she reads her message into a tape recorder and listens to it to help learn it.  I try to make it a habit to ask speakers about their strengths so that I can learn something new.  I’ll try to share those tips both here on the blog and on our and accounts.  I invite you to join us there!

4.  Seek out evaluation–I know, I know…this is tough and makes me shake in my shoes a little too.  Karen Ehman evaluates messages for our Proverbs 31 speaker team, though, and I’ve found her to be a tremendous gift.  She approaches evaluation with the heart of an encourager, so her approach is to tell me what is strong in a message in addition to what would make it stronger.  Karen does our Message Evaluation service for Next Step, so you have access to her expertise and encouragement too!  Listening to yourself (also excruciating) is a must too.

How are you stretching yourself as a speaker, and how have you grown?  We’d love for you to add to the list!



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Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Group Services Correction

Sorry ya’ll!   Yesterday I asked you to save Sept. 18th for our Group Services call.  That was an error.  The call will be on Thursday, Sept. 13th.

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Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Consistency Challenge

There were some great questions concerning Facebook and how to implement that came out of last week’s post.

I don’t even pretend to know all the answers, but there’s a principal that I’ve tried to implement for a long time that I think is helpful.  When I was in college, I read a powerful and transformational book called Some of you “of a certain age” may also remember this classic.  In the book, Rebecca Pippert gave a consistancy challenge.  The challenge is to talk and act the same wherever you are.  No matter whether you’re at church or at the neighborhood pool party, you are the same.

So when you’re at church, you cut the “Christian-eze” and you talk about God in the context of your everyday life.  If you’re at the pool party, you still weave in God in your everyday life sans the “Christian-eze”.

When you’re writing your message, imagine giving it to your friends in your Sunday school class, but also imagine giving it to the woman in the cubicle next to you or the woman down the street from you or the checker you chat with at the grocery store.  Ask yourself, “Would each of these women understand the message with clarity?”  and tweak the places that you think un-churched women would trip over.  It’s amazing how many ways we can express the same thoughts while still maintaining the purity of the meaning.  It just takes more thought!

Save the Date: Our next Group Services call will be on Sept. 18th at 8:00 pm Eastern Standard Time.  Here’s the description…

Brass Tacks:  Message Development Essentials–Amy Carroll Date:  September 13 Time:  8:00 pm Eastern Standard Time Developing a strong message is the beginning of building a growing speaking ministry.  Amy shares the essential basics of a strong message along with tips she’s learned along the way from other speakers with decades of experience.  She’ll guide you to write like a speaking pro as she leads you to:

  • Embrace scripture as the spring board for a fresh, personal message.
  • Identify the core idea in your message to give it laser-like focus.
  • Compel your audience to passionate response to the truths you’re sharing.
  • Create the opportunity for life-transformation in your audience.

You can purchase the call via PayPal on the website now, and the details of the call along with a handout will be sent the week of the call.


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