Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Three steps to starting your own speaking ministry


Jennifer Slattery
By
Jennifer Slattery

Editors and agents tell us we need a large and growing platform in order to be competitive in today’s saturated market. Though the pressure is less acute for fiction writers, we all feel it none-the-less. Because of this, many in this highly introverted group have turned to speaking as a way to increase their audience and their sales.

A great idea, right? Minus the fact that many of you have begun hyperventilating at the thought. Relax. Breathe, and grab a large supply of chocolate, and keep reading. You might discover it’s easier than you think to become a competent speaker.


But first, let’s talk briefly about where and how to gain speaking engagements. Begin by brainstorming various venues, such as libraries, church and Bible study groups, and civil organizations. Many libraries host book clubs who love having local or traveling authors visit.

For most venues, you’ll want to pitch a topic to the group leader. This will require more brainstorming. Does you story touch on forgiveness? Did that thread come from something you yourself struggled with? If so, make a talk out of it, then pare your talk to a one paragraph pitch. And let others know—your neighbors, coworkers, random strangers you meet at coffeehouses—that you’re available for speaking engagements.
Then, once you gain gigs, you want to make sure you come out strong. Don’t expect perfection but rather, steady progress.




By small, I mean in terms of audience size and time commitment. My first speaking engagement, about fifteen years ago, lasted maybe ten minutes, and involved ten people tops. My next few talks were similar in length and audience size. Though I didn’t plan this, I have no doubt God did. He has a tendency of leading us step-by-step, stretching us just enough without allowing us to crash completely.


Everyone messes up in the beginning—stutters then forgets their words, and peppers their talks with way too many “ums” and “uhs.” Those blunders aren’t a big deal in front of ten or fifteen people. Multiply the audience by twenty, however, and it’s likely new speakers will leave the event so terrified they’ll never want to speak in front of others again!



I can’t over-emphasize this point enough. Practice in front of a mirror, record yourself practicing, gather your friends and random strangers and practice your talk in front of them. According to Carmine Gallo, author of Talk Like Ted, one should “Practice relentlessly and internalize your content so that you can deliver the presentation as comfortably as having a conversation with a close friend” (p. 75).


This is also a great way to reduce the stammers and the ums. Plus, the better you perform in one event, the more likely you are to be booked for another. Consider each gig a job interview.

When Sara Bernier, speaker with Wholly Loved Ministries, felt God’s nudge to speak, she intentionally sought out small-step opportunities. “I approached Nathan Reeves the executive producer at Reality Church in LaVista,” Sara said. “I overheard him talking to the executive pastor about the need for service hosts, so I told him that I was eager for more speaking opportunities and would be happy to try out.”

This allowed her to practice standing in front of an audience and also provided an opportunity for her to receive invaluable feedback from others.



Most writers would never think of submitting a story, be it to an editor, agent, or their readership directly, until they’ve sifted it through their trusted critique partners and beta readers. If we want to have strong keynotes, we’ll apply this same diligence to our presentations. When we receive feedback before our engagement, we ensure our words have maximum impact, that our message is clear, interesting, and that it stays on point. When we solicit feedback from a trusted audience member after our performance, we provide ourselves with an opportunity to grow and improve.

Speaking is a great way to build your platform, increase book sales, and connect on a more personal level with your audience. If you’ve never spoken before, the idea of doing so might feel daunting. You can grow your confidence, however, by starting small and practicing often. Then, solicit feedback and grow from there. If you do, you’ll likely have a thriving and effective speaking ministry within a few years.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Novelist and speaker Jennifer Slattery has a passion for helping women discover, embrace, and live out who they are in Christ. As the founder of Wholly Loved Ministries, she and her team put on events at partnering churches designed to help women rest in their true worth and live with maximum impact. She writes devotions for Internet Café Devotions, Christian living articles for Crosswalk.com, and edits for Firefly, a Southern fiction imprint with Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas. When not writing, reading, or editing, Jennifer loves going on mall dates with her adult daughter and coffee dates with her hilariously fun husband.

Visit with Jennifer online at JenniferSlatteryLivesOutLoud.com and connect with her on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/JenSlatte



Restoring Love

Mitch, a contractor and house-flipper, is restoring a beautiful old house in an idyllic Midwestern neighborhood. Angela, a woman filled with regrets and recently transplanted to his area, is anything but idyllic. She's almost his worst nightmare, and she s also working on restoring something herself. As he struggles to keep his business afloat and she works to overcome mistakes of her past, these two unlikely friends soon discover they have something unexpected in common, a young mom who is fighting to give her children a better life after her husband's incarceration. While both Mitch and Angela are drawn to help this young mother survive, they also find themselves drawn to each other. Will a lifetime of regrets hold them back or unite them and bring redemption along with true love?



Buy it on:
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Barnes and Noble

Connect with Jennifer
Facebook
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101 comments :

  1. This is an awesome post, Jennifer!!!As a reader I love listening to authors talk about their loves (God, family and books) and though I do much better talking one on one, I love to talk about BOOKS. I love yours, and look forward to reading this one!

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    1. Hi, Marianne!

      Your comment is so encouraging! Good luck in the book give-away drawing!

      As a book addict, I love listening to my favorite authors talk, too. Will you be attending next year's Christian Fiction Readers event? You'll get to hear lots of authors there.

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  2. Welcome back, Jennifer. Terrific post. I have ordered the speaking book you mentioned. I actually took a TED course on speaking given by the founder of TED, that was totally helpful and mentioned many of the points your provided. This is very valuable info!!!

    Let us know when you're going to be speaking!

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    1. Hi, Tina,

      I think you'll love the book. You might also enjoy "Communicating for a Change" by Andy Stanley and Lane Jones.

      Regarding my speaking, readers can visit my website, which I believe Mary linked to above, and check out my Events Page. I have most of my upcoming engagements listed. Thanks for asking!

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    2. I bought that TED book last year but haven't looked at it yet. Must do so!

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    3. I'm trying to decide if I should tease Missy about buying books she does not then read or not.... A nicer person wouldn't even consider picking on her!!!!

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    4. Hi Ruth:

      I have found that most books bought are never read or finished. Just think how hard it would be if authors were not paid for sold books until those books were actually read! Be kind to Missy, she and those other wonderfully optimistic friends, are keeping many a writer afloat.

      Vince

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  3. Jennifer, it was so much fun to meet you in Nashville... and to be part of CFRR with you! For those of you who don't know Jennifer, she likes to talk... and I like to talk... and you can just imagine the outcome! It was so much fun!!!!

    We will not mention that I might (or might not!) have teased her about a slight obsession she may or may not have concerning germs....(Ruthy snickers softly....) but we had a wonderful time and it was easy to recognize in Jennifer a kindred spirit. She took the lemons of life, used the powerful squeeze effect of faith, hope and love, and turned them into not just lemonade, but muffins, cakes and pies.

    So nice to have you here, and I brought lemon poppyseed muffins (with no germs, yes, I wore gloves!!! BIG THICK ONES!!!!) to share with everyone! Welcome to winter in Seekerville, Jen!

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    1. Ruth, it was such a blessing to meet you and spend time with you last August. You are Hil-ar-ious! Thanks for making the weekend so fun! I really hope I'll have the opportunity to spend time with you again!

      I read--and loved!--"Her Unexpected Family!" What are you writing now?

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    2. I've just finished Grace Haven 4 and waiting on approval for Grace Haven 5 from that series... And now I'm working on the first book for Amazon's Waterfall Press, a beautiful Women's Fiction called "Welcome to Wishing Bridge".... It's a 3 book series, and I'm in love with the whole thing. :)

      And I'm happily awaiting the release of the third Double S Ranch series "Peace in the Valley" coming out in May.... Oh my stars, I love, love, love writing cowboys!!!

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  4. Also, Jen, can you tell us more about New Hope Publishing?

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    1. Sure! New Hope is connected with the Women's Mission Union and is a Southern Baptist publishing house. They are most known for their nonfiction but they do have a fiction imprint.

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    2. Well, their covers and blurbs looked lovely. Absolutely lovely!

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  5. Great post Jennifer! When I was younger I was terribly shy. I would take an "F" instead of getting up to speak on current events...my parents understood. Through the years it became worse not better. Until I turned 33 years old and I was put in positions that forced me out of my shyness. It was definitely a God Thing. The next thing I knew, I was marrying a minister and found myself in front of the congregation more an more. I found I loved speaking in front of people and as I mentioned, it's all because of movements God has given me in my life.

    Blessings,
    Cindy W.

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    1. Cindy, isn't it funny how we can work our way through the shyness? I can remember in my 20's and early 30's being so nervous at minister's spouse's retreats that if I had to stand up to be recognized for being on a committee (not even speak!), my face would burn and my heart would race so badly that I'd almost pass out. Years later, I actually spoke to the group without much problem.

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    2. Wow, what a story! It's interesting to me how many shy introverts God uses in a public speaking capacity! My pastor shares often how he's an introvert, and yet, he's an incredibly gifted speaker. But I imagine, come Sunday night, he's completely drained.

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    3. I think women are especially sensitive to being judged (and mostly by other women) when they speak or have to address a large audience... There's a funny disconnect among women that looks for a grade.... as if we have to grade one another. We are funny creatures, and I don't know if it's hormonal or territorial, but I see if far more among women than men of that 20's, 30's age group.

      Anybody else notice that?

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  6. Welcome, Jennifer! Thank you for this terrific post. Growing up, I was terribly shy. Giving an oral book report in front of the class caused me to break out in hives. I still get nervous when it comes to public speaking, but if I wear a turtleneck, I'm okay. :)

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    1. I remember book reports! Do teachers still assign those?

      I'm so sorry you had such an intense reaction. You poor thing! My husband says speaking in front of people is his biggest fear, though he has had to do that on occasion with work.

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  7. Hi Jennifer, welcome to Seekerville.

    I wish I'd had your tips a few months ago. :)

    My husband does a great job speaking in public, and I'm comfortable in the background. But I was asked to speak about my novella this fall, and I knew I had to agree. I came up with the main points, made note cards, practiced, and lived through it. My parents, daughter-in-law, and youngest granddaughter as well as my mother-in-law all came. I was so touched at the support of my family and friends. They said I did a good job, all I know is I lived through it.

    Thanks for sharing. This is a keeper post!

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    1. How'd your talk go? It sounds like you were well-prepared. :) That's awesome so many of your family members came to support you. Do they live close?

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  8. What a wonderful post, and while I am not quite ready for speaking engagements, I do think it is great for working on pitches in general. And when they say comes, I will be revisiting this post!

    When my students had to do presentations, I suggested they always practice it at least twenty times after they have familiarized themselves with what they want to say. 5 times in front of a mirror, 5 times with a pet, and ten times in front of friends and family. You could always tell the one or two students who actually did.

    They wanted the grade, so they worked for it. If we want speaking engagements it is going to take work and perseverance as well.


    Thanks for the post!

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    1. That's a great idea--to learn effective speaking tools to use when giving pitches. I hadn't thought of that, but it makes great sense! A few years ago, I led a pitches group on the ACFW critique loop, and on the first day of conference, a bunch of the members got together to practice. Many of them ended up doing really well.

      Love your last statement--"If we want speaking engagements, it is going to take work and perseverance as well." So true!

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  9. Jennifer, thanks for being with us today! You've brought sunshine to a rainy winter day!

    Great tips! I'm giving a Keynote in March for Romancing the Smokies Readers Luncheon and am absorbing your information to use as I prepare my talk. Thanks!

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    1. Oh, how fun! That sounds like a fun event! I'm glad you found this post helpful, and thanks for the encouraging words!

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  10. Loved your post, Jennifer. I confess, just thinking about public speaking makes me shake. It's one of my worst dreads, so thank you for sharing these steps to make it easier.

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    1. Thanks, Mary! I'm glad you enjoyed my post. :)

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  11. Great post Jennifer! Lovely meeting you in Nashville at CFRR. Looking forward to the next one, perhaps!

    Speaking in public still gives me goosebumps, so your post will definitely come in handy!

    Happy New Year!

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    1. That was such a great event, Just Commonly! Thanks so much for all your hard work in setting it up! I hope I can go to your next event!

      You seemed so relaxed when you spoke at the CFRR event--I never would've known you were uncomfortable.

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    2. Me, either.... Annie seemed smooth as silk. If you had nerves, Annie, they didn't show.

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  12. Thanks, Jennifer, for the how-tos. The analogy of the steps we use to ready a book for submission made it clear to me to use the same care in learning how to speak passiionately.

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    1. Hi, Olivia,

      I'm so glad you found the post helpful!

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  13. I am sorry I cannot spell on my iphone...
    passionately is the wird

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    1. No problem! I'm the queen of typos! (And sometimes, with auto correct, my typos can be ... interesting!)

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  14. I was excited when Jennifer said she was doing this. I have done speaking in libraries and a few churches. But I just can't get excited about searching out speaking gigs. It's more like, if they can find me and corner me...okay, FINE. I'll do it.
    So Jennifer's nerve to do this ... well, I'm hoping it's contagious.

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    1. You are a hilarious and fun speaker! It was such a blessing to hear you in Nashville! I love your dry sense of humor!

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    2. you've seen me speak ONCE Jennifer. Enjoy it cuz that's the only speech I've got.

      The Ruthy stuff was new, I guess.

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  15. Marianne, you really love listening to speakers? I've done just enough of this that I've learned most audiences are very kind and encouraging.

    So I never feel like I get a good critique. But then I think about THAT for a while and know I don't want someone giving me a critique. That's just a poor idea all around.
    So you LIKE listening to authors.
    You can't, by any chance, tell me WHY, can you? I've heard authors speak, some fantastic, some struggling.
    These aren't all specifically what I'd call MINISTRIES.
    So do you really like listening to them speak? Or only the good ones?

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  16. TED....Talking Every Day
    Teacher Education Drama

    Ted...TED-Ed is TED's youth and education initiative. TED-Ed's mission is to spark and celebrate the ideas of teachers and students around the world. ... TED-Ed has grown from an idea worth spreading into an award-winning education platform that serves millions of teachers and students around the world every week.
    ted.com
    Is this it?

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  17. Cindy W, I was so much the same. I'd go to ridiculous lengths to not draw attention to myself.
    Writing books is a reasonable fit for that personality and then, someone said, "Mary, Publicity, Speeches, Audiences."

    And I've been working on it ever since.

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  18. Look at Jill...she and Cindy W used almost exactly the same words.
    I feel just the same. We'd probably band together if we weren't too shy to invite other people to our band.

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  19. Jackie, I'm sure you DID do a good job, but the times my Mom had come to my speeches, she always tells me how GOOD I am. How she can't believe how good. How proud she is.

    And I'm thinking, "Sorry, Sweet hearted Mom, but you're not exactly a neutral judge."

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    1. My daughter always says the same to me, whenever I give her a compliment. And I'm like, "Um, I have no problem telling you like it is, girl." Then I remember her of our conversations regarding her hair when she was in middle school--when she thought the best way to deal with curly hair was to continually run a brush through it. Now, if she'd lived in the 70s, she would've been rocking it.

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  20. Good morning, Jennifer!! Happy New Year! I received your new book yesterday. Can't wait to read it! I love hearing speakers. We have several conferences on campus and I always get something out of the ones speaking. There's a local author I edit for who does quite a few book signings in the area. I try to go to several of them to hear him speak. Me personally, when I was working on my degree, I took Public Speaking last. I knew if I waited till the end, I would have to complete the course in order to get my diploma! What I learned, if I'm spending my time thinking about how to present my speech, how I have it organized, what I'm going to say and how, I don't spend as much time thinking about the people sitting there looking at me. Great post, Jennifer!

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    1. Yay! I hope you enjoy it! I can't wait to hear what you think of the story and characters--which one is your favorite.

      I have a friend who's just beginning to grow as a public speaker. She's been acting as "service hostess" at church, and when she does, she has either her friend or husband in the audience and speaks directly to them.

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    2. I love what a cheerleader you are for others, Jennifer... that is such a blessing to so many. God has given you a firm yet gentle direction and you seize the moments. I think that's absolutely marvelous, pretty lady!!!

      Even if we disagree on sanitizers!!!! :)

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    3. Ah! You are such a sweetie! Thanks, Ruthie!

      And just so you know, I prefer hand wipes to sanitizers. (I should maybe bring you some next year at the ACFW conference. I'd so hate for you to get sick!)

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    4. Ruthie, did I ever answer your question regarding New Hope? If not, I'm sorry. They're a traditional, royalty paying publisher connected with the Southern Baptists and their a sister organization with the Women's Mission Union. You can find them online at http://newhopepublishers.com/

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  21. Crystal, you're a TEACHER? You know that means you get up in front of an audience everyday and speak. You're probably way better at this then you know.

    When I was directing Christmas Programs. I always told my little actors to read through their part ten times, out loud. I've heard 'out loud' is good because they are not only reading it, they are speaking it, and they are HEARING IT.
    I've noticed by the time they read it out loud ten times, it is so close to memorized that, at that point, it's just the nerve to set the script aside.

    I'm also big into 'do as I say, not as I do.'

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  22. Debby you do a lot of public speaking don't you? You're really good at this.
    Do you LIKE it? I consider that I've reached what I call 'a comfort level' with it.
    Not the same as liking it, but it doesn't send me into a tailspin either.

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  23. Mary Alford, when my kids were in high school, they were all in speech...not as a class but as an extracurricular ... well after school activity. They'd travel on Saturdays to schools for speech meets. I thought it was one of the best programs they ever created. One of my daughters was in (wow, my mind is still in bed, I guess, I'm struggling to remember what it was called.

    Extemporaneous Speaking, that's it. NO ONE wanted to do this.

    They'd have topics of the day and you'd get to draw one, exactly one hour before your turn, then you'd get an hour, a quiet room and a stack of newspapers and magazines. (I think you had to bring your own).

    I watched my daughter go from struggling to even talk, to being so poised by the time she was a senior.

    It was a great program. They did all sorts of things and I always thought, this is so much more USEFUL than sports and music.

    But it could never reach their popularity.

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  24. Hi J Baugh. Thanks for stopping in!

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  25. Just Commonly you were up in front talking at CFRR. You did a terrific job. You may not have WANTED that job, but you were fun to listen too, very well done.

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  26. Olivia, you really think we need all those steps? I prefer to just wing it.

    Which may be at the heart of my problem.

    Anyone who listened to me and Ruthy talk at CFRR knows we really got a LOT better when we went ad lib.

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  27. Sally, that's so true.

    My problem is I WORRY before, worry obsessively, can't sleep, it's a kind of torture.

    Then I worry afterward, how did I sound, did one of my jokes offend someone. What did they really think. More sleepless nights.

    When I finally stopped directing the Christmas Program at Church, I told the education director I was quitting on the advice of my cardiologist.

    I think she both knew I was making that up, and understood.

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  28. I worry too. When I have to do it. We are doing a leadership class at church. I had no idea that meant getting up front and speaking! I heard go deeper in God's word. That's what I signed up for; not getting in front of the class and learning how to handle the mic, and how to speak into it, and all that. It's good information, but not what I want to do. I like sitting and not being seen or heard. I worry so much I make myself sick. But once it's over I can breathe. Then I worry about what I actually said. The first time I had to speak for the Public Speaking class, my knees shook so hard I could feel them. My voice shook I don't know how anyone understood what I said. My tongue stopped working, and I saw my brain walk out the door. It was horrible. All I could remember was the teacher said we had to look around the room and make eye contact with her. I couldn't find her! She was hiding in the back.

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  29. Happy New Year, Jennifer! I avoided public speaking until my senior year in high school when I was thrown into debate because it was the only elective open. By the end of the year, this inveterate hmmmer, ahhhhhher had been transformed into a confident public speaker. Since then I've been thrown into speaking gigs my whole career, from business presentations to preaching to speaking at writers conferences.

    But I'm with you, MARY. I can't bring myself to go looking for speaking opportunities. It's like I've been there, done that. That would be the death knell for nonfiction authors, but it's not as important for fiction writers. Or maybe I just don't want it to be the key to success. ;-)

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    1. Hi, Barbara!

      How fun to chat with you here! I am so blessed to have had the opportunity to meet and talk with you in person--back in 2010, I believe? You were such a blessing and encouragement! <3

      That's so awesome--how much debate helped you. I did some debate in high school. I liked impromptu speaking. My daughter took a debate class in middle school, and enjoyed it. I always thought she should pursue the debate team; I think she would've loved it.

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  30. Welcome, Jennifer! Thanks for these great tips on launching a speaking ministry. When I've been called upon to speak, I've done okay if I have a written script, but I've never been comfortable without VERY complete notes. I've also started the TED class Tina mentioned. Still have a few lessons to complete, but so far I've found a lot of good advice there.

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    1. I'm with you, Myra--I must prefer a written script, and I like to practice, practice, practice it until I know it without thinking. Then, I can improvise, if I choose, but knowing what I have written seems to give me more confidence when I do veer from the script.

      The TED class must be available online?

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    2. Yes, we are taking it through Udemy.com.

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    3. Very cool! I'll tell my Wholly Loved team about that. Thanks!

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  31. Nice to see you again, Jen! I've done some speaking, but it's been a while. I love the blurb for your new book. Redemption stories are always a favorite theme for me.

    Good morning, Mary! You're bright eyed and bushy tailed this morning, as usual. Thanks for sharing today.

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    1. Hi, Renee! Thanks for the kind words regarding my book blurb. :) This story was a lot of fun to write, not only because I love my quirky heroine but also because it's set in one of my favorite cities--Omaha, NE (where I happen to live. haha!).

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  32. Hi Jennifer and welcome to Seekerville. What a great ministry to have and speaking definitely builds your audience. Many publishers look for an author with a platform because they then know you will make sales. Speaking is great promotion. Thanks for sharing your tips. Wise words.

    Enjoy your day here and thanks again for starting our new year with such a great and timely post.

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    1. Hi, Sandra! Thanks! :) I actually enjoy public speaking (for the most part). I'm so glad you found my post helpful!

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  33. Replies
    1. Hi, Jen! Thanks! It's fun seeing you here as you've critiqued every one of my keynotes for the past two years or so. :)

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  34. Welcome, Jennifer! These were some great suggestions! I've also found (for me, and maybe I'm just weird) that speaking to people I know well was more difficult than speaking to those I don't know. So I'd suggest that starting small is good, but that you might not want to start with your own Bible study or women's group! :) When I spoke to my church's women's group for the first time, I nearly hyperventilated! LOL My daughter was in the audience, and she said she kept wanting to breathe for me. :) However, I felt very comfortable when I spoke to a local Kiwanis group. So you never know what might make you nervous!

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    1. I should add that the next time I spoke to our women's group at church, I did a much better job. :)

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    2. I so agree! I have found I get more nervous speaking at my home church then about anywhere else. It's also strange (to me) practicing in front of a few sitting in an empty auditorium. I'm not sure why that is, but that's how it feels to me whenever I rehearse with my Wholly Loved team.

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  35. JENNIFER!!! Sooooooo fun to see you here again, my friend, and SO great to meet you at CFRR!!

    LOL about you and Ruthy liking to talk! Would have loved to seen that volley-chat game! ;) And I TOTALLY relate on the germ thing. I don't know when it happened (probably when hubs and I kept getting sick after visiting the grands), but I went from being the type of mom who had no problem with my babies/toddlers eating food off a restaurant floor (unbeknownst to me initially, till my sisters pointed it out during one of our lunches) because a little dirt didn't hurt anybody, right? I went from that to a germaphobe who carries sanitizer everywhere, using it every single time before I eat. It was so bad, in fact, that I had to stop using Purell (which has so much alcohol, it gave me open sores around my wedding ring) and switch to Gold Bond Ultimate lotion/sanitizer, which is AWESOME!!! So I hear you, although people tell me that I'm doing more harm than good by making my environment too sanitized. Don't care -- nothing gives me a more relaxed feeling that slathering sanitizer after a visit to the Children's Museum ... ;)

    As far as speaking, being a CDQ (caffeinated drama queen), I've always been a natural speaker, or so I've been told. Won speech contests in high school and got an A in speech in college. According to my college speech teacher, he said it was his job to teach people how to emote more and connect with the audience, but I was "the only student" he ever had to tone down. ;)

    That said, I had a really bad speaking experience a year ago that put the kabosh to my confidence and now I have NO DESIRE to speak whatsoever because it's just too nerve-wracking, which is a shame because I used to love it. :(

    Any suggestions?

    Hugs,
    Julie

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    1. I so understand that! That was the same for me. When our daughter was young, germs hardly crossed my mind--unless something nasty was circulating preschool. Then I'd get a bit diligent. But then I got sick (chronic illness), and I began to become overly germ conscience. Aargh. But the plus side is, I can't remember the last time I got a bug!

      I loved-loved-loved your talk at CFRR! What a blessing I got to hear you! I would agree that you're a natural.

      I'm so sorry to hear about your experience last year. That really stinks. I hope and pray God will restore your confidence and speaking spark, because I believe there are many who will be blessed by what you have to share.

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    2. Sorry. I never responded to your question. In regard to suggestions, I'd say maybe force yourself (like when you fall of a bike but then get back on). And maybe start with a group of women you know are in your corner and cheering you on.

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    3. I am laughing at both of you. :)

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    4. Thanks, Jenn, I'm encouraged by your advice and will take you up on it because there was a time that I really believed God was calling me to speak, but both writing and this latest speaking disappointment have derailed me, I'm afraid. Well, if it's His plan, it'll happen, right?

      And I'm sorry about the chronic illness you had, but am thrilled you are staying bug-free these days. I generally am, too, although grandkids are a killer when it comes to spreading germs. UNLIKE RUTHY who runs a daycare in her home and has most likely built up more of an immunity, my hubs and I work out of our home, so I am a virtual hermit who seldom encounters many people or kids on a regular basis. So when we do see our grands and they're sick (which they have been every single time we've seen them, it seems!), we seldom leave unscathed. But, I do believe my diligence with sanitizer, vitamins, and Airborne when needed is one of the reasons the virus I caught last time lasted two days, and my hubbie's lasted three weeks, the poor guy! :|

      And, Ruthy, laugh away! Jenn and I may be quirky, but quirky is the new "cute." ;)

      Hugs,
      Julie

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    5. Oh yeah this is a 'get back on that horse' moment.
      Have I ever told you that the last time I rode a horse I fell off?

      I lay there under the horse's restless hooves which mercifully stomped AWAY from me rather than on me, with little birdies tweeting and circling over my head and that, "Get back on that horse or you'll never ride again."

      Then I thought, "I'm okay with never riding again."

      And I never have.

      I hope my speaking career doesn't end quite so violently!

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  36. At one point in my life I wanted to be an actress... until I realized that I had stage fright (well, maybe not the full-out-paralyzed-in-front-of-hundreds-of-people-the-second-I-get-up-on-a-stage stage fright, but certainly the I-am-not-comfortable-being-up-here-in-front-of-all-these-people-stage-fright) and so I became an author to avoid that discomfort. Now you are telling me that I will actually have to talk in front of other people? Oy vey. I guess it is time for me to go find another career (just kidding).

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    1. Oh, bummer, Nicky! What about acting in commercials? Have you tried that? I can't help but wonder how many other actresses or actors deal or have dealt with stage fright. I know this is common for speakers.

      I think "have to" is a strong word. I think it can really help authors expand their platform, but we always have a choice as to what platform building activities we want to pursue. :)

      Blessings to you and your career!

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    2. Oh, no, I don't want to be an actress anymore in any sense of the word. It was just a fantasy of fame and fortune I had when I was young (well... younger- it was like four whole years ago). My mom wasn't even that fond of the idea of me becoming an actress. It was really just me trying to figure out a way to vent my love of story telling (something that writing now does).

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  37. Hi Jennifer:

    As someone who had given well over 3000 speeches (if you count seminars), I can agree with all the excellent advice you've given in your post.

    I might also add that Toastmasters can also get someone up to speed very quickly. Toastmasters is a non-profit organization, (really a self-help type critique group with contests and all), that is designed to help executives, (who are being held back in their careers by an inability to give speeches), a way to advance in their organizations. I've seen it happen many times. Toastmasters works!

    One of the problems with being an officer in a Toastmaster Club is that the program is so successful that within a few months new members are out giving speeches and don't feel a need to come to meeting any more. I've seen women who would get physically sick the night before having to come in to the club and give a three minute 'ice-breaker' talk about themselves, change and improve so much in a couple of months, that they became impossible to shut up! (I've read reports that women speak three times more words in a day than men. Imagine what happens when you actually train them to speak!):)

    For many people, once you can do it, there's nothing to it.

    One of the biggest problems is that new people think of a 'talk' as a formal speech. Very few people have to give formal speeches...in a lifetime, even. The trick is to consider the group as a collection of friends who you are going to impart a little of what you know to help them. There is no need for rhetoric; just a need to be friendly, conversational, and easy to listen to.

    Remember the mousetrap saying? "Build a better mousetrap and the world will beat a path to your door". Well, write a better book, and readers will climb over other author's platforms to get to your books.
    Remember: Keep Your Eye on the Prize!

    Vince

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    1. I joined toastmasters once for a while. But for whatever reason I never got to talk. Just sit in the room.
      I guess I should have pushed harder, but I was kind of hurt by their utter disinterest in me, no doubt exacerbated by my own reticence. So I quit. It was a long drive.

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    2. Hi Mary:

      So sorry to hear about your Toastmaster experience. Each club is very different. Some have mostly salesmen, some business owners, some executives on the way up, some teachers who need work on public speaking, some just come because it is the only club meeting when they can get there and some are just retired guys not wanting their hard earned speaking skills to fall away.

      If there is more than one club in your area, I'd give it another try. My club tried hard to get everyone there to speak at least twice. Someone got to MC. Then there were table topics where you were called to talk for a minute or two on a topic. There were also three prepared speeches on the agenda. Someone gave the invocation. There was also a member who would critique each scheduled speaker. As an officer of the club one of our jobs was to see that each member got to speak at least once.

      I sure wish you had had a better club. You might be outselling Nora Roberts by now! (It could happen.)

      Vince

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    3. I've heard a great deal about Toastmasters. How long have you been a part of the organization?

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  38. Jennifer, this post is pure gold. I've been trying to figure out how I might begin getting speaking engagements. Your post answers this and other questions. Thank you so much!

    And, call me crazy, but I'd never thought to practice and be critiqued before even submitting a proposal or pitching my topic. Thank you for that too. : )

    Loved this post, and I'm going to print it off.

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    1. I'm so glad you found my post helpful! Yay! :) Best of luck to you in your speaking and writing!

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  39. What a wonderful post Jennifer! Thank you. I definitely believe speaking will help you in many ways and certainly in selling books. We have speakers come to our women's events at least twice a year and one of the most common question for our speakers is "Do you have a book?"

    Thanks so much for the encouragement!

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    1. Thanks, Kelly! I know many writers start out as speakers, then find God wants them to put their message in writing.

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  40. Hello Jennifer!
    I took public speaking in high school and college. I don't remember too much except the professor counted off for me pacing back and forth. I learned to walk, stand still several moments, and then move again. As an adult, I've only spoken in public a couple of times. I'm sure was face was beet red and I stammered way too much.

    Your suggestion are fantastic and I'll be looking this one up if I ever a schedule a speaking engagement.

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    1. I still need to work on my walking. I have a tendency to keep to one side of the stage--moving from center to that one side then back to center. I'm not sure why. :/

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  41. Thanks for the super pointers and examples, Jennifer. "Restoring Love" has such an attractive cover and the plot sounds interesting. I'm putting it on my 'to buy' list.

    Nancy C

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    1. Thanks, Nancy! What an encourager you are!

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  42. Great post, Jennifer! I'm still not confident in the public speaking area.

    I'm excited about the release of Restoring Love!

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    1. Caryl, you know some people really LOVE it. It seems very strange to me.

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    2. Hi, Caryl! Thank you so much for your encouraging comment regarding my latest release. It was a lot of fun to write.

      Mary, I do enjoy speaking, though I couldn't say why, except it gives me a reason to use up some of my five billion words. If a thought flits through my head, even momentarily, it absolutely must come out somewhere--either my keyboard or through my mouth, and often both. Much to my husband's chagrin! O.O

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  43. What a helpful post. Thank you. You gave wonderful steps.
    Thank you,
    Becky

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