Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Tips for Beginning Speakers

Most weeks I pass on speaker tips for what I’m learning right now. I’m in the trenches with you, Speaker Girl! However, this week I want us to back up and remember back to the very beginning of our speaking.

What were we learning then?

What do we wish someone would tell us?

Here are 10 tips for beginning speakers:

  1. Speak as often as you can. Set a numerical goal to try to reach–ie. three times a month. Count every time you speak including doing Sunday school announcements, a church greeting, or leading a small group. Nothing is too small. It all counts!
  2. Create a planning document with all the questions you want to ask event planners so you can record their answer. The devil is in the details (and being able to remember all of them).
  3. Adopt an attitude of service. Although speaking may seem glamorous from the outside, it takes a servant not a diva to do it well.
  4. Tell your friends and family that you’re speaking. I know. It’s terrifying. I remember whispering, “I’m a speaker” at the beginning because I was so afraid to say it out loud. Letting people who love you and believe in you know is the best way to get invitations in the beginning.
  5. Pray for attendees. I only started doing this a couple of years ago, but it’s one of the most powerful tools I use now. Ask event planners for the names of all the attendees, and pray for them by name. The Holy Spirit does some powerful connecting before you even arrive at the event.
  6. Volunteer to help an experienced speaker. You could do anything from helping with social media to traveling with her to manning a resource table. Some of the best lessons I’ve learned are as I’ve traveled with other, more experienced Proverbs 31 speaker team members.
  7. Flip 1/2 as much. I put my notes in a 3-ring binder back to back with the blank pages together. If you’ve got a printer that will print both sides, that’s even better. Having pages face each other means I have to flip pages 1/2 as often. (See the picture below if that’s confusing.)IMG_0642
  8. Practice. Practice. Practice. I never have gotten over hating practice, but it helps with 2 things. It helps you to internalize your message. It helps you know that you can stay within your time. I even practice with a timer on facing a full-length mirror sometimes. I feel like a goof-ball, but it helps me to practice calming my wild hand gestures.
  9. Don’t ever go past your time. It’s always better to leave people wanting more than wishing you had stopped 10 minutes ago. Also, it’s courteous to stay on time so that the other people in the program get their fair time.
  10. Craft and memorize 3 sentences. Your first sentence should start with a bang and get everyone’s attention. Your second sentence to craft and memorize is your sticky statement–the one main idea of your whole message. The last sentence you say should also be crafted and memorized. A great ending is obvious and invites applause.

How about the rest of you? Please leave a tip for all our sisters who are just at the beginning of this journey we’re all traveling!

Note: If you’re a subscriber with friends who are just starting to speak, would you share this post with them and maybe encourage them to subscribe? I made a list of things for which I’m thankful this morning, and “Encouraging women in ministry” was on it. I’d love to reach as many women with encouragement as possible!

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Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Seasons of Ministry


Have you seen a drop in the number of your speaking events recently or are you still waiting for the phone to ring?

Are you discouraged, wondering what’s going on?

You know you’ve heard God’s voice. Scriptures leap off the page to confirm His calling, and trusted friends tell you you’re on the right track. When you do speak, people respond, and you see seeds of life-change planted.

You’re ready. You’re waiting.

What now?

I want to just send a little word of encouragement today about seasons. For the first time since Next Step was launched, my coaching clientele has been shrinking instead of growing, so I’ve been doing some inventory.

What is God saying? 

He hasn’t given me new direction, so I’m continuing to stand in the last word He gave me which is to start coaching through Next Step.

What are others saying?

“I recently contacted Next Step Speaker Services for assistance in taking an existing message and making it better. WOW! What a huge help Amy Carroll was. She not only helped me reorganize the message, we were able to cut it down a little bit so it was shorter and much clearer. The confidence I gained through working with Amy on this message really helped me to deliver it with boldness.” ~ Holly Ladner

(In response to saying that nobody has every called me a genius…)  “Amy is a genius at encouragement, at highlighting what’s really working well, and pinpointing that one thing that’s throwing everything off. My messages are SO much more effective because of the time Amy’s spent working through them with me. My referral rates have soared as have my bookings. Bottom line: Amy Carroll is a genius at making me sound and look like a genius! And now you can’t say nobody’s ever called you a genius, Amy! ;-)” ~

What are my feelings saying? (They don’t lead me, but they’re relevant.)

I still love coaching as much as I ever have. I don’t feel burned out or ready to quit.

So what’s happening?

That’s what I’ve been asking God, and I hope what He’s showing me encourages you.

The demands on my time have shifted. Writing the book has been a huge, challenging project. Speaking has also picked up during this season. God is showing me…

So, how about you? What other areas of your life is God developing while speaking is slower or on hold?

Do you have little ones who won’t be little forever and need your time now?

Are you caring for a loved one who is ill?

Is your husband needing to feel your love through time spent?

Is your day-job requiring more of you?

Do you simply need a season of rest? (This is legit, so don’t neglect it!)

If God brings anything to mind that needs your attention right now, I want to encourage you to see this as a season of grace instead of failure in your speaking. Hold on, friend! Don’t sweat or worry. Your speaking season is just down the road!

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Tuesday, March 10, 2015

The After Battle

I woke up last Sunday morning and couldn’t figure out what was wrong with me. It felt like a truck had run over me and then backed up. Not only was I physically exhausted, but I felt emotionally wrung out. The negative narrative in my head began almost as soon as I opened my eyes. Here’s the weird thing…

Saturday had been an amazing day of ministry.

The event I participated in was filled with friends, and I got to partner with one of my favorite people, Tara Furman. Our keynotes book-ended the conference, and I felt particularly connected to the audience as I delivered a new message I’m passionate about with confidence.

So how could Sunday morning be completely horrible?

My mind wandered back to a talk I heard years ago given by Nancy Leigh DeMoss in which she used one of Abraham’s stories to illustrate this truth:

She used these verses as the foundation to her message:

17 After Abram returned from defeating Kedorlaomer and the kings allied with him, the king of Sodom came out to meet him in the Valley of Shaveh (that is, the King’s Valley).

18 Then Melchizedek king of Salem brought out bread and wine. He was priest of God Most High, 19 and he blessed Abram, saying,

“Blessed be Abram by God Most High,
    Creator of heaven and earth.
20 And praise be to God Most High,
    who delivered your enemies into your hand.”

Then Abram gave him a tenth of everything.

21 The king of Sodom said to Abram, “Give me the people and keep the goodsfor yourself.”

22 But Abram said to the king of Sodom, “With raised hand I have sworn an oath to the Lord, God Most High, Creator of heaven and earth, 23 that I will accept nothing belonging to you, not even a thread or the strap of a sandal, so that you will never be able to say, ‘I made Abram rich.’ (Genesis 14: 17-22)

Do you see what happened?

Abraham defeats Kedorlaomer and the kings allied with him. Victory!

Abraham rescued Lot. Victory!

Abraham meets with the King of Salem, the first High Priest recorded in the Bible. Some theologians believe he was the pre-incarnate Christ. Victory!

Abraham is tempted by the King of Sodom. After battle.

As I pondered this lesson, I reminded myself of some practices that I’ve let fall by the wayside.

Ministry requires rest. It’s a great gift to join God in His work, but being “on” is draining. I usually try to plan a slow day before and a day off after an event. Exhaustion is Satan’s playground, where he can lead us more easily into that negative self-talk.

Battle must be waged before AND after an event. I love praying through the armor of God in scripture to make sure I’m completely protected, but we need to remind ourselves that the battle isn’t over when we pack up to head home. Prayer for God’s covering needs to continue after as well.

Have you noticed that it’s easy to fall into the pit after an event? Share something that’s helped you to win the after-battle.

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Monday, March 2, 2015

Why You Just Can’t Skip She Speaks


After attending 9 times, I still love She Speaks more than my birthday! You might not love your birthday, but I’m close to narcissistic about mine. Saying I love ANYTHING more than my birthday is a big, stinkin’ deal.

This year I’m really jazzed. I’m teaching one old session, “Brass Tacks: Message Development Essentials”, which includes lots of the tips I give to my Next Step clients for their messages. I’m teaching a new session, “How to Walk in Your Calling When Your Confidence is Crashing”, about the struggles I’ve experienced this year and what I’ve learned from them in speaking and as a first-time author.

AND… I’m excited to announce that I’ll be speaking to the whole group of speakers in a large session. (Yes, fear and trembling are mixed right in with all the adrenaline.) I’d love to have your smiling, friendly face in the room! (Please feel free to sit on the front row and beam your encouragement right up at me.)

If you’ve been sitting on the fence, wondering if it’s worth the investment of time and money, I wanted to help you decide. A few friends have shared today, and I hope it pushes you off the fence and to the registration page. :) Here we go!


“She Speaks doesn’t wet a writer’s feet – it baptizes her into the craft of writing, editing, publishing, and marketing. I came away from the conference feeling like I’d just caught Moby Dick with a butterfly net. But what a great adventure they helped me explore!” (This is a quote from my THIRD book, ) God has allowed my writing to open doors for new speaking opportunities. Thank you, She Speaks and Amy, for letting God use you to hone the craft of those of us too timid to begin on our own.  ~Donna Jackson

I attended She Speaks in both 2010 and 2013. Both times were life changing. The experience built my confidence, gave me encouragement and provided me with concrete guidance for improving my speaking. However, the greatest part was just making connections and building relationships. I appreciate all the work that P31 puts into the event that made me feel welcomed and valued.  ~Amy P Boyd

Last year was my first time at She Speaks. I walked in the door a nervous wreck as I scanned the room of full of hundreds of women that I perceived to be smarter, more gifted, and “more called” than me. I left feeling more
empowered than ever before with a new confidence that God had, in fact, called me and was preparing me for what he had prepared for me to do! I can’t wait to see what this year holds!   ~Adrian Jessen

When I think of my first She Speaks, I think of three words: engaged, equipped and encouraged. I came alone but soon felt engaged with 700 like-minded women. I came empty handed and left equipped to start writing and speaking. I came lacking confidence and left encouraged in my calling. Thank you Proverbs 31 Ministries, for the She Speaks experience.  ~Christy Mobley

I wanted to share a few words about my She Speaks experience last summer, it is still impacting my life months later. From the moment I walked in, the atmosphere was an aroma of sweet fellowship. There was no competition. Everyone embraced one another as though our hearts were joined in divine purpose. With every new smile I met, the Lord confirmed that I was not alone on this sometimes lonely journey. I now belong to a sisterhood of twelve precious ladies who cheer on and hold up each other’s arms when we get tired. These “She Speaks Girls” are now some of my closest friends. What a blessing She Speaks is!  ~Melanie Davis Porter

And now a longer story, but one I thought needed to be included to show the heart of She Speaks on every level…

I attended She Speaks in 2012. The evening before I was to leave for the conference I found out some devastating news. My 15 year old daughter was pregnant.  The thought did cross my mind, for a moment, that I should cancel my trip. But just for a moment. Then God opened my eyes to the truth that this timing was no accident, and I was to keep my plans.

God used that timing for good. It was a very emotional weekend for me, but I was so blessed to be surrounded by so many women who showered me with encouragement and prayers. One specific lady prayed with me for an extended amount of time in the prayer room. We still keep in touch on occasion. I needed that love from those women at one of the most difficult times in my life. I received it.

If that wasn’t benefit enough, I received so much wonderful teaching and encouragement to move forward and be obedient to God’s call on my life (in the midst of adversity). I am so thankful for She Speaks for all those reasons and can’t imagine how my life and my ministry may have taken a different path had I not attended. Be Still and Live is now in it’s almost 3rd year. I am living the simplelife and my desire is that other women would embark on this simplelife journey alongside me! ~Christy McGriff

By now I hope you’re all in! I hope to see each one of you there and meet you in person at some point. Maybe it’s not for you this year, but go ahead and start saving for the future. But maybe … just maybe … this is the year for you. If so, click here to go straight to the She Speaks site to register. (And make sure to come by the Next Step table so I can hug your neck!)

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