SOS: Starting Out Speaking for Beginner Speakers (Intro Part 2)

SOS: Starting Out Speaking for Beginner Speakers (Intro Part 2)

Boy eating marshmallowThis is part 4 of my blog series, SOS: Starting Out Speaking for Beginner Speakers. You can read Part 3 by clicking here.

SOS: Starting Out Speaking for Beginner Speakers (Intro Part 2)

In my last blog SOS: Starting Out Speaking blog post, I shared how the first few moments of your speech is vital. You want to immediately grab your audience’s attention or you will lose them. Below is an excerpt of Joachim de Posada’s intro to his TED speech on the secret to success, which is an excellent example of a great intro to a speaking presentation:

I’m here because I have a very important message: I think we have found the most important factor for success. And it was found close to here, Stanford. Psychology professor took kids that were four years old and put them in a room all by themselves. And he would tell the child, a four-year-old kid, “Johnny, I am going to leave you here with a marshmallow for 15 minutes. If, after I come back, this marshmallow is here, you will get another one. So you will have two.” To tell a four-year-old kid to wait 15 minutes for something that they like, is equivalent to telling us, “We’ll bring you coffee in two hours.” (Laughter) Exact equivalent.

So what happened when the professor left the room? As soon as the door closed… two out of three ate the marshmallow. Five seconds, 10 seconds, 40 seconds, 50 seconds, two minutes, four minutes, eight minutes. Some lasted 14-and-a-half minutes. (Laughter) Couldn’t do it. Could not wait. What’s interesting is that one out of three would look at the marshmallow and go like this … Would look at it. Put it back. They would walk around. They would play with their skirts and pants.

That child already, at four, understood the most important principle for success, which is the ability to delay gratification. Self-discipline: the most important factor for success. 15 years later, 14 or 15 years later, follow-up study. What did they find? They went to look for these kids who were now 18 and 19. And they found that 100 percent of the children that had not eaten the marshmallow were successful. They had good grades. They were doing wonderful. They were happy. They had their plans. They had good relationships with the teachers, students. They were doing fine.

Why is this such a great intro? Joachim is using the power of story – and even better, a funny story. If you are like me, you’re not a natural-born comedian so you might hesitate to use a joke or a funny story when you first step up to the mic. (I have a great, off-the-wall sense of humor, though, and a dry wit.) The story doesn’t have to be funny. But stories, if told well, are a natural way to connect with your audience. Jesus often used stories to teach His disciples.

For example, when I spoke in Canada at Doreen Penner’s women’s retreat, I began my presentation with the fairy tale story of Cinderella. This related to my speaking topic on fulfilling your God-given purpose, Walk In The Shoes That Fit You.

What’s your favorite story? What stories can you share in your intro or even sprinkle throughout your presentation? Remember and write down your stories to tell when you speak somewhere. You can also begin to collect stories from family, friends, peers, books, and the news to share with your audience. Stories connect hearts and are a powerful truth-teaching tool.

In the next post, we’ll talk about your bio that the event planner will use to introduce you right before you go to the presentation area.

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Come hear our anointed keynote speaker Doreen Penner and our other amazing speakers at the RELEASED! Women’s Conference on April 27, 2013, in Belton, MO. Click here to learn more. We’d love to see you there!

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SOS: Starting Out Speaking Tips For Beginner Speakers

SOS: Starting Out Speaking Tips For Beginner Speakers
Beth Jones, speaking at Women of Destiny Conference, Bahamas
Beth Jones, speaking at Women of Destiny Conference, Bahamas

Have you always dreamed of speaking on stage, but the dream has never become a reality? Do you want to start speaking publicly, but don’t know how to get started? In my last post, I wrote about when I first started speaking. It wasn’t my idea; I was real shy and terrified to speak in front of even a few people! But God had other plans. 🙂

I’m so glad He did because now I LOVE speaking! It energizes me and makes me happy. My desire is to glorify Jesus and share about God’s love and the great plans He has for women everywhere, to use their gifts for Him and doing what they love.

Recently in a Facebook forum, a fellow peer thanked me for sharing encouragement with other beginner speakers. I’d like to share some here as well.

SOS: Starting Out Speaking Tips for Beginner Speakers

1. Speak whenever and wherever you can. The way you get speaking gigs is to speak, or as Speaker/Author/Success Coach Cheryl Pullins says, “Let them experience you.” Speak at churches, Bible studies, Rotary Clubs, MOPS meetings, workshops, and whatever door opens for you. Tell everyone you know that God put this desire in your heart and that you are now available for speaking and scheduling events. Email family and friends to let them know. Share about your availability at church, your kids’ schools or homeschool co-op, with neighbors, your husband’s co-workers, your best friend, and your in-laws.

Remember if you don’t take yourself seriously, they won’t either. It doesn’t matter if anyone thinks you aren’t “qualified” to speak. God is the one who has called, qualified, and anointed you! The good fruit from your life will be evidence to them after awhile. People can’t ignore the fact that doors are beginning to open for you from God!

2. Pray (being very specific) for speaking gigs. Jesus told His disciples, “You can pray for anything, and if you have faith, you will receive it.” (Matthew 21:22, NLT) How can you receive if you aren’t even asking?

Be specific in prayer and ask God for whatever number of speaking opportunities you desire per month or year. If this is really your gift and what God wants for you to do, you’ll get speaking opportunities as you walk in obedience to Him. Every speaking engagement I’ve ever received, they have come to me to ask me to speak! “A man’s gift makes room for him, and brings him before great men.”– Proverbs 18:16

3.  Speak for free. Initially you may have to speak for free. Yes, nada. I know, it burns, it burns! That is what I did, and what so many speakers do. Get your pride out of the way and first get some experience and credibility! You aren’t going to be paid the big bucks when you’ve only spoken a couple of times!

In fact, if your motive for speaking is the money, you might reconsider another career or ministry!  Yes, you can have a successful, profitable speaking business. But it takes TIME. And if money is your motive, it’s probably not going to work.

YES, I am a fiercely passionate advocate of Christian Speakers being paid. It makes me bristle when I hear people say that you shouldn’t “charge for your ministry.” Really? So every pastor in America needs to get another full-time job so they can earn a paycheck! Christian Speakers are one of the only professions/ministries I know of, who hear this objection to their pay. This is not just my ministry; it is my home business, my “career,” the way I am helping to bring in income to our family (you know, like the Proverbs 31 woman who bought a vineyard with her earnings!).

If you know a lawyer, doctor, CPA, nurse, preschool teacher or any other number of fields, you wouldn’t expect him or her to go to work and not get paid, would you? Then why is it any different for Christian speakers? This has always made me curious! I believe with all my heart what the Bible says, “The laborer is worthy of his wages.” (1 Timothy 5:18)

But when you’re first starting out, you may have to gain experience first before you can start charging. And sometimes, even after you’ve been doing this awhile, there may be situations where you still speak for free or for less than your normal fee, such as an honorarium or love offering.

After you’ve gained credibility and much experience, you have to make a decision about whether you are still willing to speak for free (or less than your fee, an honorarium, or a love offering). As my friend Diane says, “You can’t pick my brain for free because my brain is expensive! I’ve invested a lot of money into this brain, learning new things!” Sometimes the benefits you gain from the opportunity are better than money, such as the opportunity to travel somewhere new, the new audieence you may be reaching (which may mean even MORE speaking opportunities for you in the future), or greater exposure for your business.

4. Ask for testimonials right away after you speak from the church’s women’s ministry leader or the event planner.  That way you are freshly in her mind, and she will remember how well it went. Testimonials help to establish you as a reputable speaker. Canadian Speaker/Author Sheila Wray Gregoire has excellent advice for speakers on her blog, Becoming a Christian Women’s Speaker.

5. Be easy to work with for event planners. Please, please, don’t be a difficult, high-maintenance speaker. If you want to have a successful Speaking Business, you must be professional! Don’t whine about how few attendees are in the audience, the lousy mic or sound equipment, or the food the meeting planner serves you that you just can’t stomach.

Arrive in plenty of time for your speaking presentation, so the event planner isn’t biting her nails, wondering if she’ll have a no-show for her important event. Communicate when needed with the event planner after being hired so she won’t worry (without your boundaries being violated, which is another post!).

Have your bio printed out for her when you arrive, in case she forgot hers. I learned from Speaker Felicia Slattery several years ago that you do not want to start your speech with saying your name, talking about the weather or the building, or any other inane comment or you are going to instantly LOSE your audience. Those first few seconds are crucial to your audience tuning into you. Start and end your presentation with power!

Turn OFF your cell phone at the meeting and have your notes, visual aids or power point, Kleenex, and cold bottled water ready when she introduces you. You don’t want to be totally disorganized, sweating, and fumbling around with your index cards or papers, shouting, “Just a minute! I’ll be up there in a sec! I know I put that quote somewhere!”

Don’t be unreasonable and demanding of event planners, asking her to make 100 copies of your revised handout five minutes before you speak or to asking her to display 75 copies of your book on the back table just minutes before the meeting time so you can make more money there with back-table sales.  Be pleasant and polite to her and the attendees. Remember that interacting with your audience is key to success!

6. Dress for success. Please don’t show up in a short skirt or shorts and flip flops, or something more suitable for night clubbing with your cleavage generously spilling out. You also want to make sure that you don’t wear dated clothing or this can cause the audience to not be able to relate to you, and they won’t take you or your message seriously. Most importantly, be beautiful on the inside, preparing your heart with prayer!

A good rule of thumb for speakers is to dress one notch above the audience. A man wearing a black tux to a men’s retreat? A little much. A chic dress and wedge sandals at  a women’s retreat when the attendees are in jeans or pantsuits? That’s great. Some women are much more comfortable in pants when speaking.

On stage, it’s a good idea to wear more makeup than you usually do because your features tend to “disappear” from a distance. Someone on the back row can’t see your sheer pink lip gloss from where she’s sitting. You’ll look like you have no lips or very thin ones. Learn some tips from a makeup artist, such as outlining your eyes with darker eyeliner or outlining your lips before putting on lipstick or lipgloss. Make sure that at least your eyes and your mouth stand out with some pretty color.

A great tip I learned at Upper Class professional speakers’ training was to make sure my hair didn’t fall into my eyes or face as I looked down at my notes and spoke. Your audience will become distracted if they are thinking, “I really wish she’d get her bangs out of her eyes!” or you are hiding under a lion’s mane of permed hair. Be sure to have good hygiene (shower, bath, brushed teeth with fresh breath, clean hair) and a good hair style and cut.

7. Talk to the attendees before and after your presentation. A mistake I made last year happened when I had to rush off after a speaking event because I was flying out of town the next day. In retrospect, I should’ve stayed for the lunch they had prepared for the meeting and connected heart to heart with the women and the men there, talking to them. I had so much on my mind about my trip that I neglected to be fully present in the moment.

Actually, I love being able to pray with women after I speak to pray for their needs and to give them words of encouragement. This is often when the greatest ministry occurs.

If you seem unfriendly or unapproachable in some way, it could damage your credibility and reputation as a professional paid speaker. Smile, take pics with attendees, ask questions, pray with them, and listen intently to what they have to say. Don’t just try to sell yourself as a speaker or sell your books, but build relationships. You aren’t there just “to be in the limelight.”  You are there to serve God and them. Walk humble. You are there for God’s purpose on a Divine Mission. Make new friends!

These are just a few tips I have for you if you are starting out speaking. I’ll continue with more SOS tips in the week ahead. I’d love to hear your questions or for you to share about your own speaking experiences, both good and bad! Leave your comments below.

  Are you an event planner? Learn more about my Speaking by clicking here.

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Open your mouth wide; Stepping Out to Obey God

Open your mouth wide; Stepping Out to Obey God

Woman holding megaphoneFor it was I, the Lord your God, who rescued you from the land of Egypt. Open your mouth wide and I will fill it with good things. – Psalm 81:10, NLT

I was sharing with someone the other day about how my Public Speaking business/ministry got started. It wasn’t my idea; it was God’s. 🙂

An unexpected opportunity came when I was working as a volunteer counselor at Your Life Choice Center in Harrisonville, MO. The center’s founder, Wauthena Neely, was approached by a friend, who directed her church’s women’s Hearts At Home Bible study. They needed someone to speak at an upcoming study.

Wauthena knew my testimony of having had three abortions, and she recommended me to this woman and asked me if I’d share my powerful story. I’d never publicly given my testimony and was terrified, but Ray encouraged me to do it and God spoke to my heart to do it.

Turning things around 180 degrees

When I stood before that group of women, I felt like Daniel in the lions’ den. I was so afraid of judgment and rejection. My knees were also knocking, speaking in front of people.

The board members of the Hearts At Home study had bathed this day in prayer. They expected a stampede of women to rush to the front of the room when I invited women at the end of my testimony to come forward for prayer for forgiveness or healing about their abortions.

Not a soul did. The room was silent. I thought I was going to die!

What they hadn’t anticipated was that so many post-abortive women are bound in fear, shame, and condemnation as I’d been years before.

Despite my own roller-coaster emotions, I recognized what was happening. No one asked for prayer, but I knew that statistically, it was very likely that at least one woman was in the audience, who was suffering with the painful aftermath of abortion. And she was too scared to tell anyone.

My prayer is that somehow my testimony ministered hope and comfort to her about God’s unconditional love and forgiveness. Abortion is not the unforgiveable sin. God will forgive you for abortion and heal you when you come to Him.

Then He can even turn that situation around 180 to use you to minister to other women who have had one, as I can testify. While I was working at the pregnancy center, my story saved at least two babies from being aborted.

I’ve also shared my testimony many times since then and often have women come up to me afterward thanking me for sharing about God’s forgiveness, telling me their stories.

Your story can make a difference in someone’s life.

God’s sense of humor

That special day marked a new beginning for me: the launch of my Speaking career.

I was so scared to speak in front of that group of women. As I spoke, I was profusely sweating, physically shaking, and my voice quivered. It was one of the most terrifying things I’d ever done.

I wasn’t alone in my fear. Fear of public speaking is the number 2 fear of Americans, under fear of snakes according to a recent Gallup poll (other surveys show fear of heights or fear of disease is the no. 1 fear, but public speaking remains consistently the no. 2 fear. Most Americans are scared of speaking in front of an audience.)

God has a big sense of humor. I was the most unlikely of people to ever speak publicly. I’ve always been a shy, reserved introvert. My whole life, I’ve struggled with various fears, and talking in front of a group was one of the biggest one.

I related to the passage in the Bible where Moses was trying to convince God to send someone else to do the job.

“But Moses pleaded with the Lord, “O Lord, I’m not very good with words. I never have been, and I’m not now, even though you have spoken to me. I get tongue-tied, and my words get tangled.”

God then reminds Moses He made his mouth. “Then the LORD asked Moses, “Who makes a person’s mouth? Who decides whether people speak or do not speak, hear or do not hear, see or do not see? Is it not I, the LORD?”

When God calls, He equips

When I worked as a secretary years ago, I couldn’t even call a client on the phone in front of my boss, because it made me so nervous for him to hear what I would say. (God has done a lot of healing in me in the last 20 years!)

In high school, one of the required courses was Communication, and during that course we had to speak in front of the class. I’d shake and sweat and literally feel like I was going to faint. The other students would snicker at me.  My teacher was wonderful, though, and she greatly encouraged me that I could do this.

Years later, my pastor, Al Ridge, told me that he believed I had spiritual gifts I’d never used, and that he saw me speaking in front of a lot of people. I laughed, telling him there was no way I was going to do that. (God had the last laugh!)

I’m so thankful to God for putting uplifting, positive people like that in my path. I look back on these things now, smiling, realizing even then God was preparing me for what I do today.

Open doors

Obedience brings God’s blessing and favor. After I spoke at the Hearts At Home Bible study, God began to open other doors for me to speak. Originally, this was certainly nothing I sought out. I was so scared to speak in front of people, and I resisted and begged God not to make me do it. But God wouldn’t let me go. 🙂

My heart desired to obey Him, and Ray kept encouraging me to do it. Ray told me that I could conquer this fear and that the more I did it, the less nervous I would become. He was so right!

After awhile, I began to relax more when I was speaking and actually began to like doing it. Then I began to LOVE it!

God then spoke to my heart to begin speaking, sharing my story and His words of truth.

I attended CLASServices professional speakers/writers training in Saint Louis, MO, and Upper CLASS in Connecticut, with Tammy Bennett, Marita Littauer, and being critiqued by legend speaker Florence Littauer for my speaking. I joined Toastmasters.

And I said a big “Yes” to God.

The call

Years before that first speaking event at the Hearts At Home Bible study, I lay on my bed in Olathe, Kansas, crying in a suicidal depression, and God gave me Isaiah 61 as my life chapter and verse.

“Beth, this is what I have called you to do and to be,” He spoke quietly to my heart as I opened my Bible to desperately search for a reason to live. It landed on that page.

At the time, it seemed impossible. Me set captives free when I was the mess I was?

God began to heal me from the pain of my past, and restore me. He turned my mess into a message.

God does it!

Every single speaking engagement I’ve ever received, God has sovereignly opened the door. I’ve never had to ask for one; they’ve approached me to ask me to speak at their women’s event.

I’ve spoken twice at Women’s Aglow in Kansas City. I was one of the keynote speakers at Norma Washington’s conference in Phoenix, Arizona. I’ve put on two women’s retreats to speak there and also had other women speakers joining me.

Last year God sent me on a cruise to the Bahamas to speak as one of the keynote speakers at Tony Robinson’s women’s conference. Then He sent me to Canada to speak as one of the keynote speakers at Doreen Penner’s women’s retreat.

This year I spoke as the keynote speaker at the PAUMCS Life and Leadership conference. I’ve spoken many other places the last two years. My next speaking engagement is April 13 at a ladies’ tea. I’m also hosting the RELEASED! Women’s Conference in Belton, MO, on April 27. (Are you signed up yet?!!!)

Today I love speaking in front of live audiences. It thrills and energizes me. It makes me happy. I want to go all over the world, traveling and speaking, encouraging women.

Today I’m living out my calling and purpose from God. Are you?

I am deeply aware that I don’t deserve for God to use me like this. It humbles and amazes me. That is why I always give Jesus Christ the glory, and always will. He is my everything. “In Him I live and move and have my being.” (Acts 17:28)

I do it for God’s glory and to encourage women’s hearts with God’s powerful words of truth to help set them free and to exhort them to use the great gifts God has given them for His glory.  God’s word is truly coming to pass in my life.

Open your mouth wide. God will fill it with good things. Step out and obey, and just see what God will do.

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Are you an event planner? Check out my Speaking page here.

 

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