The Key Ingredient for a Growing Speaking Ministry
This week I had the pleasure of being interviewed by a former Next Step client and forever friend, Christy Mobley. I’ll share the whole interview (and a great new resource) when it’s available, but she asked me a question that still has me reflecting.
“Amy,” Christy asked, “what was the best piece of advice that you got as a new speaker?”
I didn’t even hesitate in my answer. Not only is it the best piece of advice I personally received, but it’s advice I pass on to other speakers all the time. Here it is.
Don’t get me wrong. In this world of warring messages, marketing matters, but nothing counts as much as a strong message.
When I first joined the Proverbs 31 Speaker Team, I had no marketing materials. Nothing. Nada. Zilch. No website. No biosheet. Not even a business card. So you can imagine how I felt when I measured my ministry against the other amazing women on the team and all their bright, shiny marketing materials. I panicked!
When I started into high gear to produce the materials that I thought were essential to growing my speaking ministry, Renee Swope, who was then overseeing our team, intervened. She said, “Amy, your main focus should be on learning to create strong messages. If your messages don’t live up to your marketing, you will have missed the expectations of the event planners. Unfortunately, word of mouth works both ways–both positive and negative– so you want to exceed expectations, not fall short.”
Best. Advice. Ever.
How do you feel about your messages? Do you feel confident about your message development and delivery?
Here’s what I’ve decided for myself. Learning to develop strong messages that connect with the heart of my audiences is a life-long endeavor. It’s not that I just want to be perceived as polished and professional. The deepest desire of my heart is to communicate the Gospel in the most effective way possible. Because we live in an ever-changing culture, the learning curve to communicate a never-changing Truth is unending. I’m always working to create stronger messages!
Here are a few ways that I challenge myself to stay a learner instead of considering myself an expert:
- Read books on communication. It’s truly a craft to study, so I love to be challenged and grow. A few of my all-time favorites that I use as constant references are Communicating for a Change (on sale right now in the P31 bookstore!) , Made to Stick, and Resonate.
- Attend conferences. She Speaks is full this year, but why not start saving your pennies for next year? I love it more than my birthday, and that’s a mouthful for a girl who’s a narcissist one day a year!
- Listen and listen and listen to other speakers. Make yourself a sponge when it comes to assessing another speaker. What do they do really well? What missed the mark? How do they keep their audience engaged? Where did they lose you? Since it’s important to be able to turn off this critique and just be a learner at times, TED Talks are a better time to do this than in your church on Sundays! 🙂
How are you learning to create stronger messages? I’d love to pick up some tips from you!
Note: Did you know that you can share the graphics from my posts in your social networks just by being on the website, passing your cursor over it, and clicking on your favorite network’s icon? Give it a try! If you’re a subscriber receiving this post in your email, just click on the title of the post in your email to go to the site. You can also get these graphics and other speaker goodies by joining Next Step on Facebook. I’d be thrilled to see our Speaker Girl community sharing it up each week!
This is 100% true and the best advice. People ask me all the time, ‘how do I become a speaker’? My response is usually, ‘what is your message?’ This is usually a good litmus test of their motives for being a speaker too. Like anything, one might think that they want to be a speaker or a chef or a doctor…until they actually know what is required 🙂
Love your advice!
Love your question to answer the question! It’s really true. This calling looks pretty glamorous from the outside, but it’s a lot of work and carries a weight of responsibility that not everyone is going to want to carry.
This is great advice, Amy! Make sure what you’re delivering measures up to what you’re offering on “paper”.
In this season of my life, I’m not a speaker (waiting on God), but I love to write.
One good way to connect with the hearts of your audience is to look for opportunities to ask them questions. Especially one on one in everyday life (e.g. at the grocery store or while waiting to get your hair cut). It doesn’t have to be a lengthy conversation but just enough to get the gist of their struggles. Be vulnerable so they won’t be afraid to open up to you.
For instance, yesterday I was rushing around making supper at the last minute, when my neighbor dropped by. I know she cooks most every day for three kids and a husband. So, I truthfully told her the reason for my stress was procrastination, and then purposely asked her if she was ever like that. She said, “Yeah, I haven’t even started mine yet!” You can bet there are others out there with the same struggle. If not with starting supper early enough (I realize not everyone cooks their own food), procrastination could be with any number of things. Even in our spiritual lives.
Whatever you glean from those conversations is not only a great way to draw in your audience, but could be the subject of your message.
Such great advice, Rose. It’s easy for me to get so task-oriented that I forget to “mine” the thoughts and wisdom of the people around me. This is a challenge for us all to be more aware of opportunities!