Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Overcoming Stage Fright


“Do you still get nervous?” As a speaker, that’s the most commonly asked question I get. The answer is both yes and no. Time and experience has helped me to manage my nerves, but I wouldn’t say they’re completely gone. I get more nervous in certain settings, like when people I know, love and respect are in the audience. It may be weird, but I’m more comfortable in front of 500 strangers than 20 of my friends!

It’s completely normal to get nervous before you speak, but nobody wants to melt down completely in front of a group. Here are some tips for managing and channeling fear.

#1–Be prepared with a great message. The greatest surge of confidence comes when you know you’ve written a stronge message that will serve the needs of your audience. Also, when you’ve taken time to practice that message out loud–making sure you’re staying within your given time and working out the kinks– you’ll feel calmer and more comfortable as you start.

I’ve started crafting and memorizing my first sentence. Just like writers need a great sentence as a “hook” for their readers, speakers need a beginning sentence with some “pow!” to get their listeners to sit up and begin to take notice. Knowing what my first words will be helps me to channel all the nervousness into a contagious energy.

#2–Square breathing. This physical exercise is one I use almost every time I speak. When I start getting nervous, I start to hyperventilate, so I do these steps called square breathing:

  • While counting to 4, inhale slowly through your nose.
  • Hold the breath for 4 slow counts.
  • Exhale slowly through your mouth while counting to 4.
  • Hold the breath for 4 slow counts.
  • Repeat 2-3 times.

I think this works for several reasons.  It makes me slow my breathing down which keeps me from hyperventilating.  It floods my body with oxygen which helps clear and sharpen my mind.  It also gives my brain something to do (counting) besides thinking about how nervous I am!

#3–Boss around your motives. No matter how selfless you are, it’s hard to get past wanting to impress people in your audience. I’ve found that wanting to impress is a motive that causes my nerves to soar. Instead, God has taught me to pray to forget about myself entirely. I pray that I’ll love God first and that He’ll give me a great love for the people in my audience. Once those motives and priorities are in place, my nerves calm.

Excessive nervousness when you speak reflects an excessive focus on self.

PSALM 34-4

How do you manage your nerves? I’d love to hear more tips!

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Thursday, November 12, 2015

Love is the Thing

To my dismay, it happened again this weekend. An event planner and even an attendee recounted tale after tale of aloof speakers to me. I know I’m on a roll about this topic, but really, it’s disturbing me.

I’m a speaker, so I’ll lead this little chant. You follow.

I’m the speaker…

But I’m nothing special.

My position on the stage doesn’t set me apart or make me exceptional.

I’m a regular girl…

In dire need of grace.

The end.

I know I’m getting preachy here, and this will be my last rant. But y’all, this deal of reinforcing a celebrity culture in the church has to stop. NOW. We can start the beginning of the end by not setting ourselves apart at events and coming as a humble servant. Circulate. Make yourself available. Be the first one there and the last to leave. Eat meals with the crowd. Ask them about their lives and stories. Be one of the girls.

Love is the thing. It’s the place where our hearts are set right, and we see ourselves as we are. Love compels us to pour ourselves out instead of protecting ourselves.

I know and love speakers, so I really don’t believe that being a diva is where most of this is coming from. I’m in the trenches with you, so I know how exhausting it is to stay totally engaged for days on end. I know that ministry can attract needy, boundary-less people who make you want to run away and hide. I get it. Really I do.

But we can’t let any of those be excuses that keep us from pouring out our whole selves. Jesus faced all those challenges, and yet He gave Himself completely and humbly to us. How can we do less?

Let’s spread the love today– as a start into our cyber worlds with the graphics below and then pray to take it into our every day worlds. My Wunderkind–Claire the intern and Jake the techie guy–have put together beautiful graphics and whiz-bang technology to make it easy to share. Just run your cursor over the image you like, pick your poison, click and VOILA!

If you promise to spread the love at your events and be one of the girls, I promise to quit preaching. :) Love you! Really!


Love one another.as I have loved you,You must loveOne Another. (2)


The (1)

Espresso Shot (1)



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Tuesday, November 3, 2015

When the Season is “Slow”

Even though it was 12 years ago, my first She Speaks was revolutionary for me, and I still retain memories of some of the important talks and lessons I learned there.

In one session, three different speakers from the speaker team spoke on three seasons of ministry: Go, No, and Slow.

At this point on my journey, I’ve experienced all three. Go is definitely my favorite. No is hard, and I often chafe in a wait. However, at least there’s a clear boundary. It’s Slow that I think is the hardest.

Just last week I got an email from a woman filled with longing. God had opened a few doors, but she wanted so much more. She wanted me to tell her how to create more, but I didn’t have much of an answer. Sure, I can tell you about word-of-mouth, contacting MOPS groups, and how to do a mailing. But there are times that no matter what you do, there’s no more. It’s just a slow season.

For about the last year and a half, I’ve been filling a new volunteer position for Proverbs 31 Ministries as the International Initiatives Coordinator. “What?” you might be saying to yourself. “I didn’t know P31 has international initiatives!”

Well, that’s because we don’t… YET. :) You probably know that Lysa and her family did a wonderful project in Tanzania for the release of The Best Yes. Now we’re trying to figure out as a ministry where God is taking us next. It’s my dream come true, but it’s slow.

Next Step is slow too. We’re all gearing up for the holidays, not thinking about starting a big, fresh project. I get it, and I know coaching will pick back up in 2016. For right now, though, it’s slow.

Even though I’m thinking every day about getting out the message of Breaking Up with Perfect and still working hard to that end, it’s still relatively slow. Anything compared to a book launch is slow!!

All that to say, I understand slow too. Slow is hard, but I’ve come to believe that slow is important. Think about all our heroes in the Bible who had significant waits and slow times.

I’ve been pondering those purposes to raise my spirits. Here are some wise words from Lysa TerKeurst mixed with some of my own.

Things to Do In Seasons of Slow:

  • Pray. In our conversation about international initiatives, Lysa reminded me of her visual of a fly-wheel. The best real-world fly-wheel that I can think of is the merry-go-round on playgrounds when I was a little girl. It’s hard to get a merry-go-round started. Sometimes it’s a long time between the first muscle-tearing push and when your pigtails blow in the air. The beginning of the ride is slow and takes lots of effort. The effort in ministry should be prayer. Lysa reminded me not to be discouraged by how slowly things are developing but rather to see the slowness as a gift–an opportunity to fervently seek God and His best. I came away from that conversation so encouraged, and I hope you are too!
  • Look for the lessons. If we believe that God embeds every season with purpose, then we should watch for His purposes in our seasons of slow. For me, He has used these seasons to refine my motives. I’ve usually wanted more, not for the Kingdom, but for my own name’s sake. I know. Ewww. When things are slow–speaking events are few and far between, my sparse writing is heavily edited, coaching clients contact me in a dribble–I’m dependent on God and able to see His hand move. What are your lessons in this slow season?
  • Prepare. When our schedules are busier, there’s less time for refining the ministry pieces we already have in place. In this slow season, I’m scheduling some time to work with my tech team to update and upgrade my websites. I’m listening to sermons and reading books to fuel myself spiritually and spark new ideas. Importantly, I’m spending relaxed times with family and friends that get scarce when the calendar is full. We want to prepare for busy by keeping love tanks full!

What do you do in seasons of slow?

Note: When I went to get the link for She Speaks included in the first sentence of the post, I realized that there’s something new this year. There’s a holding page where you can sign up to be alerted to conference updates. So great!

If you’re thinking about attending next summer, I highly recommend going to sign up. I’m sure you’ll only get a few emails, and it’s important to know when registration opens. Last summer we had as many women on the waiting list as women who attended. If you don’t want to be one of those sad women on the waiting list next year, go sign up for the updates so you can register as soon as it opens. You’re welcome. :)

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