4 Things Every Novice Speaker Needs to Know
A new stamp on my passport gives me heart palpitations. I love to travel, but the most exciting adventure I have ever been on is my journey as a speaker. Just like any other journey, it's a trip that requires planning and preparation.
- Preparing for the Journey
James 3:1 warns, "Not many of you should presume to be teachers, my brothers, because you know that we who teach will be judged more strictly." Becoming a speaker begins with a calling that is very sober. Being a messenger of God's Word carries responsibilities as well as joys.
Just like every trip begins by planning alone before you leave home, every speaking journey begins without a large audience. It begins by cultivating an intimate relationship with an audience of One, God Himself. We'll never be perfect or become worthy to speak, but we are called to teach out of a vibrant, growing relationship with God.
- Packing Your Bags
Preparing an excellent message is a daunting and important task for every speaker. We need to consider ourselves students of a craft; looking to constantly improve our content and delivery. The goal isn't that we are known, but so that we can better make Jesus known.
Reading books on speaking, on communication, and listening to excellent speakers are ways we can work to improve our messages. Some tools I recommend:
- Made to Stick by Dan and Chip Heath
- The Reason We Speak edited by Marybeth Whalen
- Attend training conferences like She Speaks, Proverbs 31 Ministries' conference for speakers, writers and women's ministry leaders. You'll leave with an incredible tool box for speaking as well as the refreshment that comes from a spiritual retreat.
- Listen to free podcasts by many excellent speakers online. Analyze what makes their messages effective.
Choose topics to speak on that express your God-given passions and speak with your own distinct voice. God has created you uniquely so that you can speak into the hearts and lives of specific women, so don't try to imitate someone else. Your voice and your story need to be heard.
Leaving the Comfort of Home
Marketing is a place of great inner-conflict for most speakers. How do you let others know that you are available without too much self-promotion? This was a huge struggle for me until I realized that I didn't need to market myself. I needed to market the message that God had given to me. That's a whole different focus about which I could get passionate!
Tracie Miles wrote a series of excellent blog posts for Next Step Speaker Services which are a tremendous resource for speakers desiring to get the word out. You can link to the first post in the series by clicking here.
Enjoying the Scenery
As you travel down the road on your speaking journey, you'll encounter all kinds of challenges. It's not always the "fun" journey that it looks like from the outside, but it can always be joy-filled. An incredible woman in ministry named Mimi Neighbors told me, "I have a front row seat to the greatest show on earth!" She's right. It's not always an easy journey, but I'm constantly amazed that I am invited by God to join Him in spreading the word about His Kingdom.
When we begin our journey with an audience of One and remember that our journey is ultimately to glorify that One, we can embrace every part of our speaking journey with joy. Jesus is the One who calls, and He is our Destination.
Someone asked me recently, "What would your experienced-speaker-self tell your beginning-speaker-self?" I only paused a minute to think before replying, "Relax. Rejoice. And enjoy the journey." I'd say the same to you!
What helps YOU when speaking? Leave a comment or tip
Amy Carroll is director of Next Step Speaker Services and a speaker for Proverbs 31 Ministries. She lives in NC with her three favorite guys and a little red dachshund. You can find Amy on any given day typing at her computer, reading a book, coaching speakers or trying to figure out an alternative to cooking dinner. Visit Amy at www.amycarroll.org and find weekly tips for speakers at www.nextstepspeakerservices.org/blog.
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