Hey, y’all! It’s been a great summer break, but I’m happy to be back with you.
Melanie and I are in the midst of planning our blogging year, and we’d love to hear from you. Please leave any speaking/writing questions you have in the comments, and we’ll use your needs to determine future blog posts.
We’ll start with a question from our friend Laura who asked:
I have done lots of speaking at events, but don’t have much experience doing retreats. I’ve been asked to do a 3 day retreat, and I’m wondering what unique advice you or the community might have for retreats vs. keynote speaking.
I’m excited about this question because retreats are my favorite! I have a lot to share, so the next few weeks are going to contain a short series about preparing for retreats.
The first thing to tackle is the differences between keynotes and retreats. Understanding these differences will help you to prepare and to lead a retreat successfully.
Difference #1– Retreats Demand More of You
This truth is a pro for some and a con for others. I believe that most of my best ministry happens off the stage, and this is especially true at retreats. Speakers need to head into retreat weekends rested and ready to give of themselves. Event planners and attendees will appreciate the time with you.
One retreat coordinator asked me, “Will you spend time with our women?” When I started digging around trying to figure out the root of that question, she explained to me that their speaker the year before was seen only on stage. She was completely absent otherwise, including meal times and leisure times.
I believe that speaker missed ministry opportunities. At keynote events, we’re often in and out with little opportunity to interact with our audience, but at a retreat, there are times for prayer, encouragement and more leisurely conversations. Let’s make sure we go in ready to serve that way.
There are some caveats. For example, I don’t stay up all night with the women since I need to form full sentences the next day. 🙂 I’ll hang around for a little while after the sessions are over, but I let the event planner know that I’ll duck out at a reasonable hour to get some sleep. I often catch a nap on Saturday afternoons when the attendees have free time too. Being “on” for a whole weekend is exhausting even for us extroverts!
Spending time off the stage with attendees is important. Sit with them at meals, and be prepared to spend time before and after sessions, making yourself accessible for conversations.
(Practical Tip: I always travel with earplugs since retreats can be loud even during sleeping hours. I’ve found earplugs let me rejoice in their fun without seething at the noise!)
Difference #2– Retreats Allow You to Go Deeper
This is the aspect of retreats that I especially love. I’m a Bible study girl, so the extended time allows me to dive deeper into Scripture than a keynote. I’ll give more thoughts about that in relation to preparation next week.
Going deeper gives you more freedom in lots of ways. For example, I rarely have handouts for keynotes, but I always have handouts for retreats. I’m not a big fill-in-the-blank girl, so I usually include a key verse and space to take notes. I also add 3 sections at the bottom of my notes:
- Transformation Points
- In this section I include 3-4 questions related to my session that attendees can ponder on or journal about when they have time alone with God.
- Recommended Reading
- So that attendees can go deeper on their own, I list books and other resources in this section.
- My Contact Information
- I love to stay connected through the resources I offer, so I give my blog address as well as the way to find my podcast and social media.
Which do you like better–retreats or keynotes? We’d love to hear from you!
Are you interested in speaker or writer coaching, but you’re a little afraid? Not sure if the critique will be too harsh for your heart? Here’s what Penni Jo had to say…
“I just have to say, you have no idea that it is absolutely an unexpected gift from God that you aren’t a rigid, overly Type-A, “can’t think out-of-the-box” kind of coach. It’s also a gift that you have SO MUCH grace and don’t expect perfection—but at the same time challenge me to give this my best. You’re the perfect balance. Thank you so much.”
Click here to sign up for a free consultation call and find out for yourself today!