This is part 7 of my blog series, SOS: Starting Out Speaking For Beginner Speakers. You can read part 6 by clicking here.
In the last blog post in this series, we covered your speaking bio, that the event planner will (hopefully) share to introduce you just before you enter the presentation area. Today we’ll talk about content ideas for your speaking presentation.
As I shared before in this series, there are 2 rules for speaking:
- Have something interesting to say.
- Don’t be boring!
As a Christian believer, I also add a third, which is the most important:
- Say what God tells you to say and glorify Jesus. You can’t go wrong here!
Here’s what the Bible says in Jeremiah 1: 4-10, CEV: “The Lord said: “Jeremiah, I am your Creator, and before you were born, I chose you to speak for me to the nations.” I replied, “I’m not a good speaker, Lord, and I’m too young.” “Don’t say you’re too young,” the Lord answered. “If I tell you to go and speak to someone, then go! And when I tell you what to say, don’t leave out a word! I promise to be with you and keep you safe, so don’t be afraid.” The Lord reached out his hand, then he touched my mouth and said, “I am giving you the words to say, and I am sending you with authority to speak to the nations for me. You will tell them of doom and destruction, and of rising and rebuilding again.”
After God gives you the main message He wants you to share with the audience, how do you get inspired to write your content? Here’s 5 tips for inspired content:
1. The Bible. God’s word is alive. Exciting real-life stories filled with adventure such as the Flood and the rainbow, Job a good man who had bad things happen to him, a young Jewish girl named Hadassah who God set apart for a great purpose as queen, David the shepherd boy who God chose to fight on the front lines of war and raised up to be king, Mary Magdalene who had 7 demons cast out of her, who was the first evangelist. Examples, both serious and humorous (like gloomy, doubting Thomas who said, “Let us go to Jerusalem, too, that we may die with Jesus”), that teach us important truths such as having strong faith.
Jesus’ stories and Solomon’s romantic poetry, the lonely but faithful prophets, the apostle Paul who was mocked for his faith in Jesus, the teen girl Mary’s faithful obedience, the wisdom of the Proverbs, the disciples who constantly screwed up, yet God used to spread the gospel around the world (which gives us hope!). There is so much meat in the Bible, which makes solid content for your speaking presentation.
2. Daily life. My family knows by now that practically anything they say or do is fodder for my speaking or writing! Your life provides some of the BEST creative material for speaking. Anything goes. Have an observing eye and a listening ear, and write things down in your journal for your next speaking presentation.
Your kids’ antics and conversations are so truthful and often funny and make wonderful anecdotes to share when you speak. Your husband or a friend may speak a word of wisdom (or of irritation!) that you can quote, like Ray saying to me last week in the car when I told him to stop trying to control me about a matter, “There is no controlling you! You are like a wild horse racing off a cliff with no one able to stop you!”
A financial crisis, health issue, career or ministry change, or fitness goals (such as our daughter Heather recently losing 25 pounds by cutting out sugar and running for exercise) can be shared as insightful lessons that help and comfort others.
What experiences have you had or what is happening in your life right now? Do you have 10 kids and/or do you homeschool your kids? Have you been a flight attendant or are you a jewelry artist? Were you in a nearly fatal car accident and God miraculously healed you like He did my friend Rochelle Valasek, one of the speakers for our RELEASED Women’s Conference on April 27?
You might not think it’s so interesting, but others may. People love to hear stories – yours and other people’s. Jesus used stories to teach truth. What stories can you share?
3. Travel. I love traveling so much and other than the Bible, it provides the most inspiration for my speaking and writing. Whether it’s flying internationally or driving on a fun road trip, listening to the radio with the wind in your face like in the beautiful picture above, going to a new place inspires you and taps into your creativity.
Traveling alters your perspective by letting you see, hear and experience new things. Traveling makes me feel more alive than anything else. I want to travel all around the world, on every continent, before I die.
Where do you want to go? Where have you traveled that you can share about when you speak?
4. Nature. A gorgeous rainbow of tulips, Ireland-green grass, cherry blossom trees bursting into bloom in spring, the sun on your face, stars sparkling against a black night, the magnificence of the ocean – God’s creation is one of the greatest sources of inspiration for speaking and writing.
I’ve been thinking about having a beach retreat later this year and a dear friend wrote me an email this week which said, “I saw your thread on FB (Facebook) about a beach retreat! It does sound amazing, Beth. Really, by the ocean where the breeze blows your stress away and you see God so clearly in His awesome, powerful, beautiful creation – the ocean. It always makes me think of Goldie Hawn saying that her father told her that if she “ever starts to feel too big for her britches” to stand by the ocean and remember how small she really is. The ocean seems to put things back in perspective.”
Another friend of mine on Facebook, Jennifer, said that as she’s been walking outside recently, God has been giving her exciting, new ideas to start a Creative Coaching business. Get out in the sun, the fresh air, and nature to be inspired with fresh ideas for your next presentation.
Share about your pets and others’ pets, animals at the zoo, like the polar bear with the thick, white fur who was pacing back and forth in the enclosure and looking so hot in the summer heat at the Kansas City zoo when Leah and I visited last year, or your fish that died from a friend’s child who fed it Oreo cookies’ crumbs. (A true story that happened to our daughter Leah’s fish when she was a toddler.)
5. News, t.v. shows, and movies. I hardly ever watch the news and don’t watch t.v. I don’t have time and it’s usually so negative or crass. But once in awhile, I’m intrigued by something unusual in the news, my heart quickened by a great new movie, or am inspired by someone like Angie Miller on American Idol.
You want to at least be aware of what’s popular and share material that is relevant to your audience.
In my next blog post, we’ll talk about your presentation conclusion – it’s important to WOW! your audience with your intro and your conclusion, leaving them with a great take-away.