At CLASS speakers/writers professional training a couple of years ago, I learned from Florence Littauer that speaking and writing go together like a hand in a glove. As a speaker and writer, you must diligently build your platform for continued success. This is no time to sit around watching t.v., or playing Farkle. God has important work for us to do!
“Building your visibility by getting your articles published can lead to requests for speeches and other personal appearances, requests for other articles, and maybe even interest from a book publisher. Once you get on the publishing and speaking ride, success in one area often leads to demand in the other.” (Use Speaking Engagements to Build a Platform, Meg Schneider and Barbara Doyen, everything.com)
These authors suggest starting small when you first begin speaking, such as at schools, youth, business, social, and civic organizations. They encourage you to give speeches on your profession, and on what it takes to prepare for a career. The speech should be about ten to fifteen minutes long. I believe we should speak on the passions of our hearts. If we’re excited, others will be, too!
If you are a new speaker and you struggle with anxiety or fear before speaking, you’re in good company. Public speaking is the #1 fear among Americans. The way to cure it is to just get out there and do it! Over time you will build your confidence, and soon you will be getting requests to speak – and paid for it. That is very exciting; your labor is bearing fruit and people are valuing what you have to say! Sharing the things that are burning in your heart, whether through the written or spoken word, is extremely fulfilling.
Authors Schneider and Doyen say that many organizations such as the Kiwanis, Lions, and Rotary Clubs often are looking for new speakers for weekly and monthly meetings, as well as MOPS, women’s ministry boards, and Toastmasters. These are not paid speaking engagements, but they’ll give you good experience. Toastmasters is a wonderful place to learn how to publicly speak, with immediate, helpful feedback.
Initially you will do the “pitt” work – putting in the time! That means sometimes speaking for free or for a low fee, with very few in attendance. Over time your audiences, credibility, and platform grow exponentially as you work hard to learn and improve all you can.
Authors Schneider and Doyen write that as you receive more speaking invitations, check into local radio and tv stations to see if they are interested in your content. As you become an expert in your field in your community, you may even be asked to be a guest interviewed on a local radio show, or might receive a write-up in your local newspaper.
Explore podcasting and Blog Talk Radio. As your calendar begins to fill up, keep up the fast-paced momentum; don’t stop! Success draws success. You will be amazed at the divine appointments God brings into your life, even through the internet!
Make friends with online bloggers who are also interested in writing and speaking. Leave genuine, encouraging comments on their blogs, and they may reciprocate. Offer a free give-away download of your podcast or speaking engagement for their website, which will bless your blogger friend and will give you more exposure.
Write well-known speakers and ask for tips for how they got started and how they became successful – the do’s and the don’t’s. Be warned: they are very busy and may not have time to answer your email or phone call, especially right away! Be patient, and don’t harass them! Some of them may be just plain rude, and won’t bother with little “peons.” But the best ones will take time to help you! They used to be a newbie, too!
Read everything you can on public speaking. Take classes or speakers’ training. Watch and listen to inspirational speakers, and pay close attention to their speech material, vocal pitch, use of humor, eye contact, body language, gestures, and speech time.
Have yourself recorded or video-taped, and listen to the “ums,” “you knows,” and “so’s” that pepper your presentations. Work on these and other mannerism that are annoying or distracting to your audience, such as a nasal or high-pitched voice, putting your hands in your pocket, nervously touching your face or hair, pacing anxiously, reading your speech in a monotone, etc.
Speak as much as you possibly can to gain experience, to improve, and to develop your platform. Network, network, network. This is no time to be shy and to hold back from promoting yourself in fear of appearing “prideful.” You have got to get the word out there!
Some Christians believe God is the one who opens the doors. Yes, He does, but He also expects our cooperation and hard work. Let’s face the truth: unless you’re Beth Moore, nobody is going to call you at home, telling you they heard you were a wonderful, anointed speaker, and would you please come share at their women’s conference with an expectation of at least 5,000 attending. Get professional business cards made, make your web presence known, and spread the news by word of mouth, which is your best marketing tool. Blog, write, speak, learn, and most of all help others. You will reap what you sow.
Polish your skills continually, and ask for truthful but encouraging feedback at Toastmasters and other speakers’ training. Iron sharpens iron. (Proverbs 27:17) Learn how you can improve your presentations from successful professionals. Learn from the best!
As your speaking platforms builds, your writing platform will, too. The Devotional Diva Renee Johnson got her contract for her first book Faithbook of Jesus through a contact on Twitter and lots of hard work! As you know, social media, such as Twitter, LinkedIn, and Facebook, is the latest rage, and an important tool and friendship-builder for speakers and writers.
Post articles on your website to build your credibility, submit articles to EzineArticles, magazines, and other online directories. You can also attend Christian writers’ conferences such as CLASSeminars or Mt. Hermon each year.
Most of all, share a relevant, needed, Biblical message.
1. Give me a message
2. Make me care
3. Give me a way to remember it
The message that we as Christian speakers have will vary with the way we say it, but will always point to one primary theme: Jesus’ redemptive work on the cross. This timeless, vital message is why we do what we do. It’s all about Him. His love letter is in our hearts.
As long as we keep Jesus center-stage, keeping our eyes on Him, people will be blessed and ministered to with the message, and God will enlarge our territory to further His kingdom on earth for His glory. Our platform will grow, and His message will be carried to those who so desperately need it.