Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Creating a Biosheet

Whether you’re a speaker or a writer, a biosheet (sometimes also called a one-sheet) is a must-have for concisely and clearly expressing your message to audiences and publishers.  For me, creating a biosheet also been a ministry-defining exercise that forces me to seek God in clarifying my true call.

If you’re considering a summer project, this just might be the area of development to consider!  Today, I’d like for you to hear from Denise Hughes, a former client, current friend, author and speaker, about her experience developing a biosheet with Next Step.


1. How did you learn about Next Step Speaker Services, and why did you decide to sign up with us? 

I heard about Next Step when I attended the She Speaks Conference last summer. My time at the conference proved invaluable as it helped me formulate a more concrete vision for writing and speaking. As I flew home from Charlotte, I made a list of “take-aways” — a list of actionable steps for me to take, things I knew I needed to follow through on. One of the items on my list was to create a bio sheet and a speaker page for my blog.

So I visited Next Step’s website and perused the services offered. Immediately, I knew I wanted to work with Next Step. At the time, I didn’t know the women who offered these services, but I had experienced the atmosphere these women helped to create at the She Speaks Conference. They’re women with a passion for helping others in their speaking and writing ministry.

 2. What projects did you work on with your coach? 

I signed up for the Bio Sheet Development service with Amy Carroll. She contacted me, and we step up times when we could talk by phone. We had four phone consultations, one each week, during this process. And each week focused on a different aspect of the bio sheet. Amy would send me a short questionnaire every week, and I would submit my “homework” before our next phone call. Honestly, the homework wasn’t overwhelming at all. I felt the pace was very reasonable, and I was excited to get started.

In the first week, we concentrated on a tagline, which serves as a focal point for the kind of content you speak about.

In the second week, we worked on value statements, which expand on the tagline in more tangible terms.

In the third week, we created the actual bio, which gives the speaker’s background in a professional yet personable manner.

In the fourth week, we focused on speaking topics, which go into more detail on the different talks you give.

By the end of this process, a complete bio sheet and speaker page is prepared, and each part flows in a natural, logical order.

3. How was working with a coach different than doing these projects on your own?

I came away from the She Speaks Conference with so many ideas. And I tried several times to write out my topic ideas for a speaking page. I knew I was on the right path, but I also knew I wasn’t quite there yet. My ideas were still taking shape and didn’t feel complete.

I also wasn’t sure how to move past some of the logistical hurdles. For instance, I wasn’t sure what kind of information to include in a bio. How much personal information should it have? Should I write it in the first person or third person? Approximately how long should it be?

Working with Amy helped me to articulate the more nebulous ideas I had been contemplating for some time. She helped me to frame my ideas in a way that gave me a clearer view of what I really saw as my purpose for speaking and writing. She also gave me clear guidelines for writing the bio sheet.

Amy was so supportive in answering my questions and helping me devise a plan. She also provided lots of samples for me to examine. These examples helped me to visualize what I needed to do. Her advice was informed and very appropriate to the occasion. She was a genuine source of encouragement and a delight to work with.

4. Tell us about your biosheet. What do you love most about it, and how do you plan to use it?

The finished biosheet brought clarity to my vision. It encapsulated my heart’s desire for speaking and for writing, and it helped me to hone in on the topics I’m most excited about sharing with others.

What I love most about my biosheet is its brevity. When I started to write the speaking topics on my own, I ended up with lengthy descriptions of each talk. But Amy gave me succinct parameters to work within. This helped me to develop concise summaries with clear benefits.

I now have the speaking topics available on my blog, and I’m working with a designer to create a downloadable PDF version of the complete biosheet.

The entire process was so beneficial to me, not just as a speaker, but as a writer as well. The skills I acquired during this process will be part of my approach to all future speaking projects. For anyone seeking to create a bio sheet and speaker page, I highly recommend the services at Next Step.

Denise J. Hughes is a teacher at heart. Whether she’s speaking at a women’s retreat or teaching in a college classroom, Denise is dedicated to helping others become living testimonies of grace and truth. She holds an M.A. in Rhetoric and Composition, and she teaches writing at Azusa Pacific University. Denise is the author of , and she devotes her blog to helping others deepen their faith and develop their craft. Denise lives in Southern California with her husband and three kids.

Leave a comment here | 10 Comments
Share and Enjoy:
Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Catching the Vision

One of the ideas we’ve been featuring on the blog is finding ways to meet the felt needs of your audience with your message.  Cheri Gregory’s post on pre-event surveys is a great example!

But another important job of a speaker is to meet the needs of your event coordinator.  She and her team spend countless hours putting together an event for their women, and I always remind myself that as the speaker, I am only one of the working parts.

Because the events planners know your audience the best–their needs, places of crisis, spiritual maturity, etc–it’s important to ask questions to understand the vision of the planners before the event.

Here are just a few key questions to ask:

  • Have you done this event before?  Is it annual?
  • Tell me a little history of your women’s ministry.
  • What is the age range of the women who will be attending?
  • How would you describe the spiritual maturity of the group in general?
  • What is the main purpose of this event?  Evangelism, encouragement, discipleship?
  • What is the outcome you hope to see at this event?
  • Will there be any other speakers or breakouts?
  • Is there anything I need to provide in addition to the message (handouts, discussion questions, devotion, etc)?
  • Is there anything specific about the attendees that I need to be sensitive to? (For example, I spoke at an event this year where a beloved pastor’s wife died in a car accident just a few months before the event.  It was still fresh and very emotional for the attendees.  I was able to weave something into my message that fit with the way they honored her that evening.)

Just this week I added another question to this list…

  • Will there be music?  Can I have contact information to coordinate with the worship leader?

This topic of clear communication with event planners is very fresh in my heart because of a recent failure.  At an event, I had a very awkward ending to my second and final session (This is a whole other topic I promise to address.  Endings are still hard for me!)  As I evaluated on the way home, I realized that coordinating with the amazing worship leader at the event could have produced a very different result.  Next time I’ll ask!

Are there any questions you use to catch the vision of event planners that I missed?

Leave a comment here | 4 Comments
Share and Enjoy:
Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Something New

When I was a little girl, I immeasurably loved a new pair of shoes.  As bedtime approached, the ache of thinking about taking them off for even one minute grew so much I would beg my mother to let me sleep in them.

Truly!  And some things never change.

I still love a new pair of shoes, and I also get excited about a new look–like our updated website.  I hope you enjoy our new colors and features as much as I do.  I’d love to point out a couple of them.  If you’re a subscriber receiving this in your email, please click on the title so you can visit directly today and take a little tour.

Love Notes from Our Clients–  Our beloved clients are a continual source of inspiration and encouragement for Suzie, Karen and I.  We absorb each story with rapt attention, and our hearts connect with messages filled with hope, freedom and love.  I find that my clients quickly become friends, and I’m proud of the work each has done to fulfill her calling.

In the side bar, we’ve added quotes we’ve collected from emails and notes over the years.  I hope you enjoy them and they give you a little glimpse into what it’s like to be a Next Step client.

Watch the Word Spread– Several months ago I met with a friend and communications expert to pick her brain about our website.  She was full of great ideas.  The one piece she felt was obviously absent from our website was communicating the vision for Next Step.  I passionately described it to her, and she came up with the brilliant idea for our map.

As coaches, our deepest desire is to see God’s Word spread and His Kingdom built.  Next Step is our way to partner with other women in ministry who have the same passion.

All of our clients, past and present, will have the chance to send us information each time they speak.  I’ll add a “pin” to show both where the speaker spoke and the scripture used in the message.  I can’t wait to watch our map fill up with pins as a representation of the spreading of scripture.

Today something new and thrilling happened.  Next Step contracted with our first international client!!!  Soon I’m sure we’ll be adding Canada to our map as our new client spreads the Word.  If any of our international readers have access to Skype, we can set up coaching, and we’d be over-joyed to do it.

Writing Services– We are continuing to expand our writing services as Suzie Eller takes more clients.  You’ll notice on the Individual Services page that we’ve added a general writing coaching service in addition to the book proposal services.  If you’re interested in writing articles, building your author platform or anything else concerning writing that doesn’t seem to quite “fit”, fill out the Request Information form, give us some idea of your needs in the notes section, and Suzie will contact you for a free consultation call.

Thanks for sticking around for the tour today, and thank you for joining with Next Step.  We’re excited about the way God is growing Next Step and using us to grow His Kingdom!



Leave a comment here | 3 Comments
Share and Enjoy:
Tuesday, March 5, 2013

A Little Laughter

It’s a rainy day here in North Carolina, and it made me want to lighten things up today.

Last month at She Speaks Intensive, Ken Davis was our special guest, and he was a treat!  When he did the inspirational keynote, I literally had to concentrate on breathing so I didn’t snort along with laughing.

If you need a pick-me-up today, here’s a little sample of Ken.

Let’s analyse together. What makes him so funny? I love how animated he is. How about you? How do you infuse your messages with humor?

Note: Ken’s book  is a terrific book to add to your speaking library.  He does the training for Women of Faith, so he has a lot to offer to us as speakers!


Leave a comment here | No Comments
Share and Enjoy: