Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Be Prepared for Anything


Last weekend was a fascinating time of contrasting events.

It was the first time I’ve ever done two events in one weekend, and the events themselves couldn’t have been more different.

One was in a traditional church. One was in a very contemporary church.

One was in a church were response is quiet. One was in a church that’s demonstrative.

One was a fairly new kind of event for the group. One had lots of similar events under their belt.

The wonderful thing to see was how both events were equally awesome. Jesus showed up and did His work in both places, and you just can’t beat Jesus at work no matter the setting!

One lesson I re-learned in doing both events is to be ready for anything.

You girls know that I’m releasing a book in July called Breaking Up with Perfect, which is about our journey to let go of our own ideas about “Perfect”. (Here’s a sneak peek!)

book cover

My ideas of perfection have also extended into women’s events, but the more I see success in contrasting events, the more I understand the importance of appreciating differences instead of clinging to my own narrow view.

Also, this new-to-me flexibility has helped me to go with the flow even when things go wrong at an event. After all, there are no perfect people, so there are no perfect events!

It has helped me to be gracious when:

  • Someone introduces me by the wrong name.
  • The tech people can’t figure out how to integrate my technology with theirs.
  • The batteries die in the sound pack.
  • Breakout leaders are confused because they haven’t been given the questions I sent.
  • I feel like I’m falling off a cliff every time my high-heel gets caught in a tiny crack in the stage, and I flail my arms around like I’m falling 1000 ft.
  • An insect is crawling up my arm & the audience is watching the bug instead of listening to me. (This has actually happened at two separate events–once with a stink bug & once with a spider!!)

These are all things that have happened to me over the years, and I’ve learned to deal with them with increasing patience and humor. I’m a mess, but I’m growing!

Here are a few tips for handling the things that inevitably go wrong during an event:

  • Send your technology ahead so the team can give it a trial run. I usually send links from files in DropBox.
  • Write an introduction to give to the event planner. I let them know that’s it’s optional, but usually it’s a relief to her to have the help.
  • Bring some emergency supplies: batteries, skin-colored tape (for those over-the-ear mics that just won’t stay in place), an extra copy of all your handouts and discussion questions, insect spray (just kidding!)
  • Carry along an extra pair of shoes. Seriously. I’ve started carrying flats to every event in case of emergency (like catching heels) or simple foot fatigue.
  • Make sure to arrive overflowing with Jesus and with your sense of humor intact. (Sometime I’ll tell you how that stink bug actually saved me as I was sinking.)

I’d love to hear your funny stories of things that have gone wrong and your tips to be ready in every circumstance!

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Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Who Is in the Chairs?

I’m a retreat girl. There’s no doubt, but I had forgotten since I hadn’t led one in a while.

I think I love retreats so much because I’m highly relational. Retreats give time and space for women to begin to break down the walls and get to know each other quickly on a deeper level.

Last weekend, I led a beach retreat (heavenly fellowship located near heaven), and the deep sharing started from the get-go as each woman introduced herself. Boy, there was a lot of pain and hurt behind some of those beautiful faces, and I immediately began reassessing my message. In my mind, I cut and pasted before I began to speak based on some of the things I heard in the introductions.

In a non-retreat setting, we rarely get much insight into the faces looking into ours as we speak, but it’s important to try to think through who will be filling the chairs at an event.

8259606722_800312745e_zPhoto Credit

Some of the blanks can be filled in as we talk to event planners. We can ask questions like:

  • Will there be both males and females at the event or just women?
  • What is the age range?
  • Are there any special populations I should be aware of? (ie. miliary wives, grief groups, homeless, etc)

But we need to think beyond those basic categories. This weekend I was more aware than ever that I need to realize statistically there will be certain circumstances represented in a group of women:

  • There will be married women.
  • There will be women that have never married.
  • There will be women whose marriage is in crisis.
  • There will be divorced women.
  • There will be women whose husbands had an affair.
  • There will be women who have had abortions.
  • There will be women who have experienced a significant death recently.
  • There will be women who are in the midst of infertility.
  • There will be women who are struggling as moms.

You get the gist. Although I’m tender-hearted and try to be sensitive, I realized this weekend that I hadn’t run my message through the filter of considering the hurts in my audience. I was speaking as a happily married woman with children who are doing pretty well (Right now. They’re young, so I’m humble enough to know that could change tomorrow!).

I don’t think that it’s a bad thing to speak from my personal, current perspective, but I want to make sure I treat my audience with love and care.

Being a speaker is a huge responsibility. How are you careful to manage that responsibility?

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Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Question About Breakouts


Some weeks I’m foggy and struggle to think of something new for you, but God is always faithful. Last week Diana Hartmann sent me a great question on the Request Information form, and I thought everyone might like to hear the answer.

(Reminder Note: Although I can’t answer personal questions via email because of time constraints, you can send me a question to be answered on the blog either by filling out the Request Information form or by emailing me at . I love getting your questions!)

Diana’s Question: I am attending the She Speaks 2015 Conference. This is my second year to attend. Last year I geared more towards writing, and I have been a member of Compel for the last year. I plan on taking some speaker sessions this year, any recommendations?

Every year I have friends who attend She Speaks who ask me recommendations for breakouts as they sign up. Here are my “must attend” recommendations for each category:

First Time Attender–Speaker:

Breakout Title & Leader: Finding Your Niche (preconference) ~Lynn Cowell

Level: Beginning, Intermediate

Have you felt the call of God to speak or write to women but are a bit iffy on the specifics? Need to hone in on what makes you uniquely “you”? Listen and learn as you are equipped to:• Find your areas of expertise by taking inventory of your strengths, weaknesses, loves and loathes
• Blend your life experiences, talents and spiritual gifts together to obtain your ministry niche
• Unearth your hidden passions and turn them into powerful messages
• Discover your unique place in God’s plan that will change lives—yours and those of your listeners or readers!

First Time Attender–Writer:

Breakout Title & Leader: From Blog to Book Deal ~Lisa-Jo Baker

Level: Beginning, Intermediate, Advanced

After nearly five years of managing the highly popular women’s contributor blog, (in)courage, and seven years running her personal blog, Lisa-Jo Baker, published her first book with Tyndale House last year. In this session Lisa-Jo will walk you through some of the common questions that arise when considering moving from the world of blogging to getting a book deal and transitioning to book writing, including:

  • Is a blog even necessary to be a published author?
  • What’s the difference between blog writing and book writing?
  • The benefits of blogging as well as the highs, lows and time commitments
  • Practical examples of how to make this platform work for you
  • How and why to use social media
  • How to juggle motherhood along this journey
  • Connecting with publishers
  • Carving out time to actually sit down and write that manuscript while still maintaining your blog

Repeat Attender–Speaker:

Breakout Title & Leader: Positioning yourself as a professional speaker. ~Leah DiPascal

Level: Beginning, Intermediate

Event leaders want speakers who are confident, professional and organized. Discover the secrets of becoming a professional speaker who is sought-after and invaluable to event leaders. In this highly requested session you will learn:

  • Five ways to capture the attention of event leaders
  • Practical tips to keep you professionally organized
  • How to set and increase your speaking fees
  • Presenting and negotiating your fees with confidence
  • Key components of a speaking contract

Repeat Attender–Writer:

Breakout Title & Leader: Backstage Pass to Agenting~ Esther Fedorkevich (agent) & Karen Ehman (P31 speaker/author)

Level: Beginning, Intermediate, Advanced
Most people don’t understand what a literary agent does. Contrary to popular belief, an agent does a lot more than just get book deals for writers. Esther Fedorkevich, who has represented over 30 New York Times bestselling authors and books, gives an insider’s take at what being an agent is really all about. She’ll take you backstage to see how an agent works with both publishers and authors to create high impact, meaningful projects that endure.


I chose these breakouts for their practical, take-home applications. These are just my #1 recommendations, and you can see all the possible breakouts for the main conference here and for the pre-conference here. In nine years of attendance at She Speaks, there was only one breakout that I didn’t like. That person hasn’t been back since, so you’re safe! (Just keepin’ it real.) Also, don’t fret if you feel torn, many of the sessions are recorded, and you’ll have an opportunity to purchase Mp3s of sessions you missed at the end of the conference.

Many women ask if they can attend both writing and speaking breakouts even if they’ve chosen an opposite trace. The happy answer is “yes”! Sign up for what you think you need most.

Yes, I’ll be teaching at She Speaks too! I’ll be leading 3 sessions: The opening for the speaker track (with nuggets for speakers from my book Breaking Up with Perfect–release date July 7), Brass Tacks: Message Development Essentials, and How to Walk in Your Calling When Your Confidence is Crashing. If you attend and you’re part of this Speaker Girl community, please make sure to come hug my neck. I can’t wait to meet you!

Some of you might be wondering about Compel, a program Diana referenced in her question. Compel is a monthly subscription service for writers. There are 4 lessons each month which translates to about 1/2 an hour a week + assignments you decide to do as practice from the lesson. It’s a fantastic training service in which I participate as well, and I highly recommend it! Click on the links for more information.

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