Amy Carroll » Speaking Tips » Freshen Up: Part 3

Freshen Up: Part 3

Have you used the series to take a fresh look at your messages? Have you developed a sticky statement? Made sure all the essential elements are in place? In this last post about freshening messages, I want to challenge you to replace any tired stories with some new and fresh ones.

Stories are important, because stories have power.

[Tweet ““There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you.” ― Maya Angelou”]

Stories bring theory to life, and they make messages memorable.

There are two kinds  of stories you can use in your messages:

  • Somebody else’s stories– Watch for current news stories or fresh stories from reading or the internet to use. These are stories in which our culture engages, so they’re stories that connect with our audiences. There’s are a few cautions about using others’ stories, though. Be very careful to give credit where credit is due. A pastor at a friend’s church was exposed for telling others’ stories as if they were his own. Not good. Very embarrassing. If it’s not yours, then it’s a form of stealing to not give credit. Also, make sure this isn’t a story that has been forwarded into everyone’s inbox. Find something that people haven’t heard before. Finally, if you’re at an event with multiple speakers, listen to their messages. Karen Ehman tells about being at an event where the second speaker skipped the first message. What she didn’t realize was that the first speaker ended with the story in her opening. Oops. Painful.
  • Your own stories– It’s important for speakers to become students of our own lives. We need to constantly watch for updated stories of God’s hand for use in our messages. For me, this is sometimes challenging. I tend to go on auto-pilot, living life by the seat of my pants. To think back and glean stories, I try to think of times I’ve been goofy or times I’ve failed. I don’t consider myself a funny speaker at all, but I’ve found that humor is an essential connection to my audience. Although I’m not naturally funny, I’m often inadvertently goofy, so I share my faux pas which make people laugh. I’ve also found that sharing my weaknesses rather than my strengths showcases God’s hero status in my life. Stories of my failures redeemed by God’s goodness make powerful lessons.

Do you have some favorite stories to tell in your messages? Which category do they fall in?

Make sure not to miss next week! I’m going to talk about the steps I’ve taken to freshen up my websites.


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  1. I’m not funny either! But as one friend described me, “You may not be funny, but funny things happen to you!” My humor often comes through with my delivery with a tiny hint of sarcasm (always directed at myself and my own ridiculous situations/behavior). I pretty much only tell my own stories. I seem to have plenty to draw from, but for some of the reasons you mentioned above, I’m hesitant to tell worn-out stories or illustrations other speakers may have used. I also know how much I connect with a speaker when she or he is sharing from life experience. It makes me feel like I know them better and somehow can trust them more. P.S. – I’m loving this series!

    1. I’m so happy you’re enjoying the series! I love your take on humor too. Self-deprecation goes a long way!

  2. Thank you Thank you Amy! I recently spoke to a church who wanted me to speak at their Christmas event this year. They wanted me to tell them how I would bring humor into my message as well as be deep. I am as you are – not a comedian – but through my story telling and delivery humor comes through. I was stuck on how to tell them specifically how humor would be presented. I shared testimony of others seeing humor and depth woven throughout my messages. This was refreshing to me and confirmed my direction and preparation methods are spot on! Thank you!