Monday, August 25, 2014

Fall Jump-Start: Week 4 Q & A

Today is the last Q & A for this round, but please remember I always love getting your questions. Although time constraints keep me from answering questions individually by email, I’m always happy to answer them for the whole speaker girl community on the blog. You can leave your question in the comments or email them to me at .

Next week I’ll start a series on speaker fees which many people have asked about. Stay tuned! Here’s this week’s question:

“How do you juggle feedback? The 1st time I spoke, several people said different parts of my talk were meaningful, and someone asked me to speak at their next event. The 2nd time I spoke, it was the same thing. I spoke with different women that had specific comments, and the area MOPS leader was there. She gave me her card asked me to please be sure I registered with them so that other groups could find me. The 3rd time someone said I was “fun” and that’s about the only comment. I want to improve without getting caught up in pleasing/idolizing man.” ~Julie

Wow. Receiving feedback is a hard topic. I’ve received the whole spectrum of responses after an event–everything from lavish praise, to tears, to crickets. (I never did figure out the dead silence after that one event, but it was horrifying! The event coordinator wrote me a nice note, but I think I stepped over some theological line or something.)

Every church and group has their own subculture, so sometimes the feedback is simply consistent with that culture. For example, Suzie Eller and I just did an event together and discussed this very topic. Both of us have spoken before in very stoic, non-responsive cultures where we felt like a flop but learned afterward that we had made an impact. For a girl from the exceptionally responsive Bible Belt culture, that’s tough.

Here’s the response I want. I want women to approach me and tell me how my message spoke specifically into their hearts and lives. Although it’s nice to hear, “You’re a great speaker,” it’s not the response I’m looking for. I want to know I’ve crafted a message in such a way that it’s life-changing. Transformation is what fuels me, and it’s what I think makes a great speaker.

Criticism is a whole other thing. Two of my friends on the Proverbs speaker team who I consider outstanding speakers have told me of instances where the event planner actually criticized the message and/or response. I think we all need to be prepared to respond humbly to criticism while not letting it crush us. In the case of criticism, it’s important to be able to answer “yes” to these questions:

  • Did I seek God diligently about this event and my message?
  • Did I take the time before the event to be fully prepared?
  • Did I get the information I needed from the event planner to know my audience?

If the answer to all of these is “yes”, then I think we can rest with a clear conscience. Sometimes there are other issues that don’t have anything to do with us or issues outside of our knowledge with the group. All we can do is be faithful to pray and prepare.

Here’s another link to a devotion I wrote about feedback called “The Opinion Blender”.


Any thoughts from you in our community about handling and growing from feedback?


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Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Fall Jump-Start: Week 3 Q & A

Here’s a review and a glimpse of things to come…

I’m doing a Fall Jump-Start series with Q & A. Click on the links to read week 1 and week 2. Today there’s a ministry-related business question and a couple of questions every one of us has wondered about but hasn’t dared to ask!

Next week I’ll finish up the Q & A, and there will be a series on fees and the business of ministry in September.

Here we go…!

I had lunch with a girlfriend a few weeks ago and was telling her about the speaking ministry that God had laid on my heart. She then asked me a question that I had no clue about answering. She said, “Are you going to incorporate or become an LLC?” Since I hadn’t planned on charging any type of speaking fee as I was getting the speaking ministry up off the ground, I hadn’t even thought about that. ~Kate

I want to start with a disclaimer. These thoughts are based on my very limited knowledge. I’ll give you some food for thought, but it’s very important to consult your tax advisor and possibly a lawyer before you make a final decision.

Of the speakers I know, there are basically two ways to make yourself “official” in the governments eyes. For years, my husband did our taxes, and he simply reported my earnings as one who was self-employed. When I started speaking more and then started Next Step, things became more complicated. I needed a separate bank account for Next Step, so I went to the bank inquiring about how to start a business account. I was informed that I needed to either apply for a Sole Proprietorship or an LLC. The LLC requires payment of a yearly fee, but I chose that option because it offers immunity to my family’s personal finances in the event of a lawsuit.

(Just in case any of you think about suing me for bad advice in this blog, I’m just telling you ahead…blood from a turnip!)

It’s just my two cents, but I don’t think you need to establish anything official until you start charging fees. At that point, it’s great to start being business minded about your speaking ministry. A separate checking account for your speaking ministry serves as a reminder to keep track of any expenses and income. You’ll be happy you kept up all year when tax time rolls around again!

Although you can hire a lawyer for the LLC process, I’ve done it all myself, and I’ve found it to be easy in NC. We have hired someone to do our taxes since they’re more complicated, and she has saved us money. The LLC doesn’t change my tax status at all, and my CPA reports all my earnings and deductions as self-employed (as I understand it!).

The other option is to apply to be a non-profit. Most of those who I know who have taken this option are building a whole ministry rather than just speaking independently. Becoming a non-profit is much more complex, and you will probably need the counsel of a lawyer and/or CPA. The benefit, however, is that you can begin to raise money through donations.

That’s really all I have to offer on the topic, but I hope it helps. Any words of wisdom from those of you who have chosen one of these options?

My questions are strange but I would love to hear what you and other speakers have to say. First, which deodorant works best for a sweaty speaker? I sweat so much when I speak and have learned to dress “cool” no matter the weather outside. I’d love a good deodorant recommendation.  And second, what’s the best way to avoid the numerous “pre-speak pees”? Seriously, tmi, but I could use the bathroom 5 times in the hour before I speak. Nerves? I don’t feel nervous, but apparently my bladder gets that message. Any ideas?

Sorry for the personal questions, but they are real issues for me! ~Jennifer

What is it about the topics of sweat and pee that turns us back into giggling middle-schoolers? I know that was my reaction, but these subjects are no joke! :)

The other day a friend of mine was describing her physical reaction to an emotional stress as “pitted out”! Though the term is funny, it’s not funny when you’re the one who’s pitted out in front of a crowd.

On the Today show the other morning, I saw Secret Clinical rated as the top deodorant for women. Anybody else have experience with this issue and a recommendation?

Sweat isn’t so much my issue, but pee definitely is. (So wrong on so many levels.) Not only do I have a weakening 46 year old + bladder with the added stress of 2 births, needing to go is one of the symptoms when I’m nervous.

After one event where I nearly fainted from dehydration, I’ve decided pre-event fluid fasts are not the solution. Plus, dry mouth is unfortunately another symptom of my nerves.

Mostly my solution is to ignore my bladder’s faulty signals. I take a potty break about 15 minutes before my introduction, and then I just don’t listen to the spasms. Since the urge ends a few minutes into my message, scheduling and ignoring works for me.

Anybody else want to weigh in on the pee predicament?


ps. Please come back next week. That’s the end of the pee conversation. :)

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Monday, August 11, 2014

Fall Jump-Start: Q & A Week 2

I hope last week’s Q & A was helpful. Here’s another great question!

My mind tends to go blank standing in front of crowds or even in front of a camera speaking so I always need my things written out in front of me. How can I push past to be a more confident speaker that remembers what I wanted to say? ~Sarah

I had a similar question from a former client about how I organize my notes, and another similar situation with a client who wants to lean on her notes less and make more eye contact.

Here are some ideas about creating notes you can use and internalizing your message:

  • Create messages around one idea or a “sticky statement”. Click here  to read more about sticky statements. Before I started using this method, I created highly complex messages with lots of points and too much information. I couldn’t begin to memorize all my information, so why did I think my audience would be able to take away transforming points? I’ve become a HUGE proponent of the one point message both for speakers and for their audiences.
  • Format your notes in a way that works for you. I do a loose version of an outline. My friend Lynn Cowell manuscripts her message and then takes a mind map on stage. Lysa TerKeurst puts sticky notes with her main points in her Bible. Another friend only feels comfortable with her manuscript near her, but she highlights main points so she doesn’t end up reading it. There’s not a one-size-fits-all for notes. Just find the way that feels comfortable for you.
  • Practice, practice, practice. This is the part I like the least, but it’s something that’s been very helpful as I continue to raise the bar for myself to lean on my notes less. Practice your message as you’re getting ready in the morning. In the shower. In the car. Practice it one full time in front of a mirror. All of this practice helps you to internalize your message so you can deliver it naturally. It’s also terrific for double-checking that you’re within your given time. I don’t memorize my messages word for word, but always knowing where I’m going next gives me confidence and lets me focus on my audience.


Tomorrow evening is Lysa TerKeurst’s FREE webcast for The Best Yes. Make sure to catch it! Here’s the link:

Webcast Graphic[6]

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Monday, August 4, 2014

Fall Jump-Start: Q & A Week 1

Hi, friends! I’m back!! Thank you so much for sticking with me during my July blogging hiatus. I feel refreshed and ready to jump back into blogging and speaking … almost.

For most of us, August is still a month of vacations, back-to-school and a few more long summer nights sitting on the deck. September really marks the beginning of the speaking/women’s ministry season, so we’ve got just a little time left.

Let’s make it a time to work through some questions … to plan … to dream together.


I promised when I came back to answer the questions you left in the comments and sent to my email box, so I’ll be doing that at least through the month of August, ending with a short series on speaker fees. I know that’s one area most of us find difficult, so we’ll build to that topic.

Here’s the first question from Terri: (Stay tuned for some free resources at the end of the post too.)

My ministry-related question that’s plaguing me relates to this: I founded a single-parent ministry several years ago and just published a book for single moms while working full time. Now I work part-time, but still struggle with the juggling/balancing act. I’ve recently realized that we’ve been running the ministry in a “cart-before-the-horse” mode and have come to a standstill. We don’t have a formal Board and I know this is crucial. God is the one who opened all doors for the ministry, therefore, I know He’ll provide as I step aside and pray for the leaders He wants. I also need to work on 2 more books to follow the one just published, and market, promote, etc. My plaguing question is this: I have lost all my want-to. No passion, fire or vision is left. I was a single mom for 19 years, knowing He called me to this ministry and to write for single moms. I’m 54, remarried to a wonderful man, but have hit a brick wall. I know all the biblical answers, believe, trust and love Jesus to the core, which is why I’m perplexed with this. Help!

Terri, this question is super important, because I think we’ve all been at this level of overwhelmed at some point. Some of us live in that place of exhaustion. It seems like there are so many demands placed on all of us as women, but ministry adds a whole other dimension of giving. Having said that, I know we women who love Jesus have a deep sense that ministry for Him should be a joy, not a burden. How do we do it?

I’ve got several ideas:

  • Make a prioritized list– Just reading Terri’s question makes me tired. She’s truly carrying a huge load! Even with a big load, though, I believe multi-tasking is a myth. She Speaks attendees often have the same reaction to all the information they’ve been presented as you have to all the tasks on your list. I always give the same advice to them. Make a huge long list of action items for the things you want to do. During an extended time with the Lord (maybe even a day retreat full of prayer, Bible study and worship), present your list to Him and ask Him to help you to order and prioritize your list. Then just work through the list one item at a time. Our tendency is to look at the length of the list, the number of tasks or the amount of information, to become overwhelmed and then to shut down. If we’ll take the “I can only do what I can do” approach, focusing on doing one task well at a time, the mental weight lifts.
  • Build a team–I think Terri is on the right track with creating a board. If you are a non-profit, a board is required. If you’re not, then building a support prayer and volunteer team may be the first step. My friend Tara started her ministry with a volunteer team. As her ministry grew, she became a non-profit, added a board and has hired some of her original team into part-time positions. Also, I’m watching miraculous things happen with Proverbs 31 Ministries, and I believe the explosive growth is happening primarily because our team has expanded to include many gifts and points of view. Not only will you be lightning your load by building a team, you’ll get the joy of seeing the body of Christ function as it was designed!
  • Know when to say yes and when to say no–Reading about how God has provided not only ministry opportunities but a wonderful husband for Terri brought tears to my eyes. He is so good! We have to know when to work and when to revel in rest. We have to know when to prioritize the gifts called family and when to turn our attention to writing, speaking, etc. Now I’m going to give a shameless plug for a book I’m bursting to tell the world about…Lysa TerKeurst’s book The Best Yes which is releasing Aug. 12 is the best book I’ve ever read on this topic, and it’s my favorite book of Lysa’s ever. Truly. She’s doing a free webcast on launch day with information I know will help us all with the area of overload and over busyness. Click here to pre-register for the webcast. Click here to sign up for 5 free days of “Unrush Me” devotions.

I hope this helps, Terri, and I hope you’ve each gotten some ideas of how to manage the overload you feel. If you have any wise words about taming more list than day,  please share with us in the comments. We’d love to hear from you!

Bonus: Click here to download this cute free to-do list above.


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