I am so excited to welcome Amy Carroll of Proverbs 31 Ministries and Next Step Speaker Services to the blog today. Her wise words apply to writers as well as speakers. Thank you, Amy, for sharing your experience with us!
Recently, I was asked an excellent question about my early days of speaking.
“Amy,” the interviewer 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 for a speaker 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. 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 threw myself into high gear to produce the materials that I thought were essential to growing my speaking ministry, the director of our speaker 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?
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 and articles on communication. Speaking is 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, Made to Stick, and Resonate. Also, my coaching business, Next Step Speaker Services, has free weekly tips for speakers and writers. Click here to subscribe today!
- Attend conferences. She Speaks, Proverbs 31 Ministries’ annual conference for speakers and writers, is one I highly recommend. I feel free to brag on it since our amazing staff puts it together. I only show up to teach a breakout session or two! Investing in She Speaks will leave you with more practical steps than you can implement in five years and with a stronger, refreshed spirit buoyed by connection with over 600 other communicators.
- 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! 🙂
- Hire a coach for individual help. My clients have told me that they love two things most about coaching. The accountability is motivating, and collaborative learning is always more powerful than doing a project by yourself. I’m an encourager at heart, so it’s my great joy to walk alongside women as they grow as speakers. If you’re interested in coaching, read through the Next Step Speaker Services website, and fill out the Request Information form to schedule a free consultation call by clicking here.
Having a strong message is crucial to developing a strong speaking ministry. It will grow your confidence, calm your nerves, and increase your bookings. Most importantly, a strong message will multiply your influence for God, and that’s what it’s all about, right?
Amy Carroll is a speaker and writer for Proverbs 31 Ministries. She’s the author of Breaking Up with Perfect as well as the director and coach of Next Step Speaker Services. Amy and her husband live in lovely Holly Springs, NC with a bossy miniature dachshund. You can find her on any given day texting her two sons at college, typing at her computer, reading a book, or trying to figure out one more alternative to cooking dinner. Share life with Amy at www.amycarroll.org and find out more about her speaker coaching services at www.nextstepspeakerservices.org.
Linking Up with Jaime Wiebel at #SittingAmongFriends,