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speaking tips

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Blog, Business, Faith, Spiritual Gifts, Travel

SOS: Starting Out Speaking for Beginner Speakers (The Ending)

Woman phone booth

Are you communicating clearly?
Motivate your audience

This is part 8, and the conclusion, of my SOS: Starting Out Speaking for Beginner Speakers blog series. You can read Part 7 by clicking here.

Part 8: SOS Starting Out Speaking for Beginner Speakers (The Ending, or Your Conclusion)

“If you do not change direction, you may end up where you are heading.” ~ Lao Tzu

Just like you can’t ever make a first impression again, you can’t make a last impression again. How will the audience remember you? What aha’s will they take away from you speaking? What are you trying to COMMUNICATE?

You want to WOW the audience with your conclusion. I love what Ibloom Founder/Speaker/Author Kelly Thorne Gore writes in her book Empowering Coaches: The Christian Coach’s Guide to a Successful Business on page 45:

“Conclude by summarizing and giving your audience a clear next step to take. I heard a very well trained pastor give what he called the message of his life. He unfolded his talk, gave stories, kept us interested, and had great information. But when he was finished, he simply said, “If I could only give one message before I died, this is what it would be.” Then he walked off the stage. We were all left with interesting information but we didn’t know what to do with it. You must let your audience know what their next step is as a result of listening to you speak.”

You aren’t speaking up front just to show off your cute new outfit and shoes or your sharp blue suit. You want to connect with their hearts and minds and for them to learn a new idea, to buy your product or service, or for something to happen as a result of them listening to you – to take a next step, to take action.

It is a great disservice to the audience to leave them hanging and wondering what to do now, not giving them any action step(s). They will be confused, or at the very least, they’ll walk out thinking, “That was nice. He’s lived an interesting life. But what was the point of his speech? Hey, do you want to go eat some Chinese? I’m hungry.”

You want to impact your listeners with God’s Biblical truths, your experience(s), and creative ideas that will practically help, transform, and improve their lives. You show them how your message, your products, services, or other offering can do that.

For example, event planners should hire me for their women’s conference because I am a passionate, Biblically-grounded, and humorous speaker who loves to encourage women to use their gifts for God’s glory, doing what they love. When I speak, I share how one of my books, Walking With God, teaches people how to develop a daily quiet time with God in the midst of their busy, hectic schedules and to hear His voice to fulfill their great purpose in life.

Shine and be the inspiring example for them. Your message should be shared in such a passionate, intriguing way that people are compelled to move from the unsatisfying place where they are now to a new, exciting place where they want to be! Help them to get unstuck with intentional, positive choices and to accelerate forward with their lives.

Impart encouragement, hope, and joy. Speak God’s love and truth into their souls. And when you conclude your presentation, remind them of the key points (no more than 3 to 5 points usually, or they will forget and ask their girlfriend, “What was the 13th point again?) and re-emphasize your one BIG point. (Please, you do have a point, don’t you?) What are you wanting to say?

  • Maybe it’s that God is a merciful, loving God who forgives sins – no matter what they’ve done in the past.
  • Maybe it’s that Jesus still heals today.
  • Maybe it’s that God has a purpose for their life. (So many people don’t understand or believe this!)
  • Maybe it’s that there is still life after divorce – even joy and happiness.
  • Maybe it’s that God wants to prosper their business and bless them beyond what they think or can imagine.
  • Maybe it’s that they can become a life coach, even if they’re working in a job right now that’s a totally different field…and to just take that next step of faith.

Whatever your big point is, communicate it clearly and motivate them to take the next step.

And leave them with a feeling of “WOW.”

Then your conclusion will be just the beginning….of a relationship between you and her/him.

“Stories are like fairy gold, the more you give away, the more you have.” – Polly McGuire

Come To The Edge (Christopher Logue)

Come to the edge.

We might fall.

Come to the edge.

It’s too high!


And they came, and he pushed, and they flew.


Are you an event planner? I’d love to speak at your women’s conference or event! Click here to learn more about my Speaking or contact me by clicking here.

woman driving car with scarf
Blog, Business, Faith, prayer, Spiritual Gifts, Travel

SOS: Starting Out Speaking for Beginner Speakers (Content)

woman driving car with scarfThis 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:

  1. Have something interesting to say.
  2. 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.

woman scuba diving
Blog, Business, prayer, Spiritual Gifts, Writing

SOS: Starting Out Speaking for Beginner Speakers (Your Bio, Part 2)

woman scuba divingThis is part 6 of my SOS: Starting Out Speaking for Beginner Speakers blog series. You can read part 5 by clicking here.

In the last blog series post, I shared how important your bio is. What should your bio say -and NOT include?

This is Dr. Smith, B.A., M.D, Ph.D., BHA, MSCP

I love learning new things. I believe in higher education. I graduated from high school, and then graduated from Valdosta Area Vocational Technical School with an Executive Secretarial degree. In my 20’s, I pursued a college degree in social work, and was almost a senior at the University of Kansas when I had to drop out of my classes from severe morning sickness in my pregnancy with Leah. ( I threw up ALL the time for months!) When she was a toddler, I took distance learning seminary classes and earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Christian Counseling.

One day I hope to finish my secular college social work degree, mostly because I don’t like loose ends and like to finish what I start. I’ve never stopped studying, though. Since then, I graduated from CLASServices’ professional speakers’ and writers’ training. I’m a member of the National Association of Christian Women Entrepreneurs and for the last two years, I’ve had extensive online education and training in speaking, writing, entrepreneurship, business, marketing, social media, and much more. Last year I was part of a mastermind group of women with my coach. I LOVE learning!

Who cares?!

You don’t care, right? 🙂 I’m not impressed by titles, degrees, diplomas, or other letters before or after a name and many other people aren’t, either. Sometimes these can be a turn-off; the audience can’t relate to this because they don’t have a higher education. It can actually cause them to put a wall up with you.

If I’m speaking to a group of African-American women who are poor, single mothers in the slums of Africa who just want to find clean water for their babies or to Chinese women oppressed by their government under threat of heavy fines or even prison for sharing the gospel with their neighbors, and I’m introduced by the meeting planner with her sharing about my post-secondary education, these women in the audience may respond with, “Who does this business woman think she is, with her Bible college degree and her white self in prosperous America? She doesn’t know what my hard life is like!”

(For the record, I’ve had a hard life too: childhood sexual and physical abuse, physical and/or verbal abuse in every relationship with a man I’ve ever had, my daughter and I being the victims of domestic violence in my previous one-year marriage, 3 abortions, three head-on car wrecks with whiplash, the severe financial struggles of single motherhood, both my daughters having previous severe medical problems (now healed by Jesus), financial crises one after the other, the loss of a home in the U.S. housing crisis, friends, family, and church leaders coming against and attacking me and my character, a marriage quickly unraveling on the verge of divorce, and much more. Just FYI.)

A long list of credentials may cause you a stumbling block immediately with your audience. At other times, credentials can open doors of favor and opportunity for you that someone without degrees or higher education or training wouldn’t be able to walk through. It depends on your audience. But it’s not letters before or after your name or other credentials that make you a great speaker.

Your bio is very important. It can woo your audience or turn their faces and hearts away.

You can’t make a great first impression later

You never get another chance to make a great first impression. What you want your bio to do when the event planner introduces you before you walk on stage is help the audience decide that they want to listen to you! That they have a reason to.

The bio is a mini-speech that tells the topic, why it’s important to the audience (why they should pay attention!), and who the speaker is.

Just the highlights of your life, your accomplishments and career as they relate to the audience, are all you need. If your bio is a barely scaled-down-length-version of Tolstoy’s War and Peace, they’ll be bored or turned off before you even get started. You want them hungry and eager to hear from you. You want them to anticipate you opening your mouth!

Do you own white Arabian horses or run?

If I’m in the audience, I want to know if the man or woman standing up front is married, single, divorced, or widowed, if he or she has any children, and yes, if they have 3 cats or 5 Arabian horses. I want to know where they live. Do you write children’s books or scuba dive in the Caribbeans? I want to know something personal about this person, like they paint abstract art as a hobby or they’re a runner and have done ten 5-k runs since they turned 50 years old and are training for a half-marathon now. Give me something that helps me to know you before you start speaking.

I can’t stand to have someone immediately start talking at me without me knowing a single thing about him or her and leaving me wondering, “Is she married? Never been married and she’s 55 years old? Why not? Does she hate men? Did her fiancĂ© at 25 years old break up with her and she was too heart broken to ever marry again? What?”

My mind just goes wild. I have to know. I hate secrets. I can’t stand not being able to open Christmas presents before Christmas and always shake the box to figure out what it is, like a little kid. I try to guess what Ray or our kids got me, while they laugh.

One time I attended a women’s meeting and couldn’t concentrate on anything she said because she hadn’t even said her name when she began speaking (and the event planner hadn’t bothered to do this, either!), and if she was married or not. I wondered the entire time about these two things as she spoke; it hindered my ability to receive!

Your audience wants to know you, too. Let them know a little with your bio. Not too much. You don’t want them to feel like you are throwing up all over them. They don’t need to know your life story with your bio. Include your most important accomplishments, but just give them the highlights.

It’s like painting. You don’t want a blank, white canvas. You want to put some color on there to start. Paint broad strokes of pale white or a neutral color first. Then the background colors of blue sky and white clouds. This is your bio.

Then you begin to fill in the canvas with blue tall bellflowers and varying shades of green grass. (Your introduction) Finally, you paint the woman in a purple sundress, with her worn book under the shade of a huge oak tree, but she’s not reading it. She’s looking away in the distant, at the man walking toward her – the One she loves. (This is the rest of your content, your conclusion)

In my next SOS: Starting Out Speaking for Beginner Speakers blog series, I’ll share about ideas for content for your speaking presentation.

Are you enjoying this blog series? Share your comments below. What do you want to know about a speaker before he or she starts speaking? What don’t you want to know?

Join me and 4 powerful speakers for the RELEASED! Women’s Conference in Belton, MO, on April 27. You will be incredibly blessed and walk away with empowerment to fulfill your purpose in 2013. Click here to save your spot and register today.