Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Win a Call

Would you like to win a chance to be part of “Writing a Bang-Up Book Proposal” for free?  Leave a comment on the blog telling what topic your heart longs to write about.  We’ll pick a winner on Saturday randomly from the comments left.

You can enter again on Amy’s and Karen’s personal blogs!  Just click here to visit Amy’s blog and click here to visit Karen’s.

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Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Using Props

I’ve been at She Speaks Intensive, a new conference for speakers and writers.  I am so excited about the things we taught and learned.  I’ll be sure to report back to you next week!

This week, I’d like to leave a link to a re-run post.  Click here to read a post by Lynn Cowell about using props as you speak.  I think it will be new to lots of you who have joined us more recently, and I don’t want you to miss such great content.

Also, please join us on and Twitter @nextstepspeaker.  You can join us at either place, and the same content is given at each.  This week’s theme is using props, and we’ve included some links to fantastic videos showing how speakers effectively use props.  We love to keep in touch with you all week long!


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Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Great Communication Any Way It’s Given

Last summer, at Proverbs 31 Ministries’ She Speaks Ccnference, Liz Curtis Higgs said, “In this world, if you’re a writer, you’ll be turned into a speaker before it’s all said and done.”

How true!

The opposite is often true also.  It seems that we live in a culture that demands we do both–speak and publish.  Most people define themselves by their strongest area, either as a writer who speaks or a speaker who writes.  Certainly communications overlap, and we have to become better at both no matter our particular strength.

With that in mind, we’ve decided to shake up our next Group Service conference call a little.  Our own Karen Ehman, author of four books, will share the lessons she’s learned as she’s written successful book proposals.  This call will be especially timely for those of you planning to present a proposal at She Speaks 2013!

Here’s the scoop:

Writing a Bang-Up Book Proposal–Karen Ehman
Date:  Thursday, February 7, 2013 at 8:00 pm EST.

Think you have a great book idea but absolutely no clue how to put together a book proposal that meets the standards of the publishing industry? Karen Ehman has written five books with three major publishers and is also hired to write book proposals for other potential authors. In this informative and practical call she will highlight the key components that comprise a winning proposal and then give you the tools to craft one yourself. The call includes a sample book proposal template from Karen’s latest book being published by Zondervan. There will be plenty of time for Q & A.

Please register by clicking here.  We hope you’ll join us!


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Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Using Pre-Event Surveys

This is our second week of hearing from a 2012 Next Step Speaker Services client.  As I told you last week, one of the things that I treasure about coaching speakers is that I am continually learning from my clients.  

One week while I was working with Cheri Gregory, she began to tell me about how she often gives pre-event surveys to her audience.  I was so captivated with her stories and results that I asked her to share with you.  Today’s treat is a written explanation of how she implements the survey AND a moving video telling about how God used the survey for one event.

Please welcome my friend Cheri Gregory!

As a high school teacher, I get to know my “daily audience”–my students–before I try to tell them anything. The first few days of school are all about relationship-building, not content.

So I used to feel very uncomfortable arriving at a women’s event and immediately diving into my message. I didn’t know these ladies! They didn’t know me! How could I teach women I didn’t know?

The answer, thanks to technology, is that I can start getting to know my audience ahead of time via a pre-event online survey!

The first time I sent out an online survey prior to a retreat, I was just hoping to glean basic statistics about my audience: age range, how many were married/single, what age children they had. But as the survey results came in, I found the women sharing information far more powerful than percentages (although it was a great Friday night ice-breaker to share all sorts of “fun facts” they’d told me about themselves!)

I discovered what issues the women were (and weren’t!) struggling with, which allowed me to re-focus my messages on the areas of greatest need. Many women took the time to pour out their hearts in the open-ended “comment” sections, and I wove many of their authentic quotes into my talks. I did so anonymously, of course, but always gave credit with a segue like “As one of you here today said…”  (And I can’t tell you how many women later made a bee-line to me, beaming from ear-to-ear as they exclaimed, “You used what I wrote!”)

I discovered one unexpected benefit of the pre-event survey when one woman told me, “When I received your survey, I clicked on the link out of duty; I’m a rule-follower. But as I read the questions, I got more and more excited about meeting you, because I could feel your heart for women.” It hadn’t occurred to me that not only do I get to know the attendees via the pre-event survey, but they start getting to know their speaker, as well!

A few FAQs:

How far in advance do you start the survey?

My preference is at least two weeks. When I’ve launched a week prior to a retreat, it feels rushed, for me and the attendees.

How do you send out the survey?

It depends on whether or not the retreat coordinator is comfortable giving me the e-mail addresses of the registrants. If she is, I create a unique mailing list and send the survey link in a one-time-only* e-mail. If not, then I give her the survey link and she sends it out to her group.

What about women who don’t have access to a computer?

I’ve offered paper copies but no retreat planner has ever taken me up on the offer. So I am aware that my survey samples are always incomplete, with a distinct technology access bias.

What percentage of the women respond?

As the results to the first survey poured in, I was stunned by how eager women were to respond to my survey! I’ve been thrilled to have a response rate of 60-90%, with 75% being a solid average.

What kinds of questions do you include in the survey?

I try to make most questions answerable via a mouse click: rating, multiple choice, yes/no, etc. But for every question, I do include a “comment” option with the maximum words allowed. The comments I do receive are invaluable.

My closing question is always the same:  “How can I pray for you in the days leading up to the retreat?” I spend far more praying over the specific requests than analyzing the other data. This is when my self-centered “I hope they like me” anxiety falls away and my heart breaks open to the needs of the women God’s called me to serve.

Could I see a sample survey?


If you’d like to see the kinds of comments and prayer requests I’ve gotten, feel free to e-mail me at , and I’ll be glad to send you a compilation of text-based responses.

(* I do not add any of the e-mail addresses to any mailing list, as this would be a serious breach of trust and a violation of anti-spam laws. I only add those who sign up for and intentionally “opt-in” to my mailing list.)

Cheri Gregory is a 40-something Christian speaker & writer; high school English teacher; Certified Personality Trainer; wife of a teacher/pastor/musician; mother of two teens; servant to three psycho cats & one ADHD Keeshond. In her copious spare time, she loves to shop, horseback ride, and scrapbook! Please visit Cheri’s blog by .

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