Amy Carroll » Speaking Tips » Stretching and Growing

Stretching and Growing

“If you’re not growin’, you’re dyin’.”

I love that quote as applied to spiritual growth, but I’m also challenged to continue growing as a speaker.  Recently I’ve found myself thinking a lot about the weight of responsibility that we carry along with the blessing of our speaker calling.

I never want to get over that weight.

For me, getting over the weight of responsibility would mean that I’ve wandered into the dangerous territory of self-sufficiency, so I keep asking God to raise the bar for me.  I want to be an increasingly better teacher and speaker, not so that I can be known as a great speaker, but so that the Gospel is communicated effectively and winsomely and God is glorified as a result.

So today I want to share some ways that I keep growing as a speaker:

1.  Take advantage of outside resources–One great resource that has been both feeding a pushing me is Preaching Rocket.  Although they provide a subscription service for pastors, they also have a Free Resources page that you just can’t miss.  You can sign up for their emails and get in on their fantastic free webinars.

2.  Keep honing message development skills–Every time I learn something new about developing effective messages, I realize how much I still have to learn.  This really is a journey!  You’ve heard me say how much Andy Stanley’s book Communicating for a Change has impacted me.  I still love it and use it extensively, but I’m also trying to break out of my formula-loving, rule-following ways just a little.  Even Andy doesn’t follow his own outline in every sermon (!), and I’m trying to be more flexible and creative about writing my messages while including the essential parts.  Whether you’re a beginning speaker or a pro, if you would like to hear someone else’s perspective on message development, we’d love to have you join us for Brass Tacks, our next conference call.  I’ll share some of the new things I’m learning!

3.  Ask others “How do you do that?”–Just over a year ago, I watched my friend Lynn Cowell speak, and I was struck with the powerful connection she had with her audience.  She had notes on the stage but barely used them.  I was convicted about my own heavy leaning on my notes, so I asked her how she was able to internalize her message so thoroughly.  Lynn shared several great tips including how she reads her message into a tape recorder and listens to it to help learn it.  I try to make it a habit to ask speakers about their strengths so that I can learn something new.  I’ll try to share those tips both here on the blog and on our Facebook page.  I invite you to join us there!

4.  Seek out evaluation–I know, I know…this is tough and makes me shake in my shoes a little too.  Karen Ehman evaluates messages for our Proverbs 31 speaker team, though, and I’ve found her to be a tremendous gift.  She approaches evaluation with the heart of an encourager, so her approach is to tell me what is strong in a message in addition to what would make it stronger.

How are you stretching yourself as a speaker, and how have you grown?  We’d love for you to add to the list!


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  1. Although my speaking experience is pretty much limited to the ladies at my church (for now anyway), attending She Speaks this summer was such a blessing and a challenge to be a more effective communicator. Not just in front of an audience but with my husband, my sons, my family and friends. Even as I mentor my “little sisters” in the faith, I find myself looking for ways to glorify Him and communicate His love.

    First and foremost, God is challenging me to slow down and not try to cram so much into my conversations or my messages. He wants me to pay attention to my audience and take the time to see them as He does and to observe His love reflected on their faces. It is a beautiful thing to behold and, I think, one of His rewards for our willingness to share and be vulnerable.

    Thanks for these great reminders of ways to grow and transform as a speaker. I’m so thankful for your dedication to helping others become the speakers/leaders He created us to be!

  2. 5. Heal and Get Real – After I signed up for the Advanced Speaker Evaluation group, I thought “Oh Mylanta, what am I thinking?” I stretched myself by stepping out of my comfort zone and being around gifted, creative, godly women.

    I realized that I had grown when I did not compare myself, feeling condemned or not good enough through the evaluation process. I truly wanted to glean from their experiences, learn new approaches and celebrate their success. I’m sure Renee Swope’s Confident Heart online study prior to SS helped me in that area.

    Attending She Speaks 2012 and seeing how the BIG GIRLS do it on stage also inspired me to keep on taking the next step. Proverbs 31 speakers are polished to shine with an authentic transparency to reflect Jesus Christ from whom all blessings flow.

    The more transparent we are, the more apparent Jesus Christ is and that is the kind of speaker I want to be. – Thanks P31 speakers for all you do!

    1. Lori,
      I love your insight! My natural instinct when I’m speaking is to self-protect, but God stretches me by showing me that He works through my weakness. Transparency IS stretching.