Use Your Words: What Should I Charge for Speaking?

Moneyphoto © 2008 Tyler | more info (via: Wylio)
What are the going Christian speaker fees? What do Christian speakers charge? And how in the world do I ask for it?

That’s the most common question I get from people–how do I figure out what to charge for speaking? What do other people charge? And is it selfish to ask for money?

On this week’s Use Your Words program, I tackled this thorny issue. I’ve already written a longer blog post about deciding what to charge. That really is useful for getting into the nitty gritty! But let me sum up here.

Once people start asking you to speak, as opposed to you generating the engagements, then you should definitely charge.

Some organizations pay about $50 or $75, but let’s face it: that doesn’t even cover your mileage. So you need to figure out what to ask for.

When I started out, here was my thinking:

If I had to support myself, what would I need to make? Then what is that on an hourly basis? (basically divide it in half and then divide by $1000. So $50,000 a year is $25 an hour).

If I want to make $25 an hour, then what do I charge for an event where I speak for one hour? Well, you have to look at what goes into that hour:

  • Time spent speaking
  • Time spent at the engagement
  • Average time of travel for the engagements you do
  • Time spent in preparation

But then there are also other hours that you have to account for, like:

  • Time spent building a website
  • Time spent networking
  • Time spent in training/study

Once I worked all that out, it looked like I was spending about 8 hours directly for each engagement, and then I averaged about another 3 hours that I had to add in to each engagement to cover my other time. And that gave me a figure.

  • Then, take that fee and double it for an all day Saturday engagement.
  • Take that fee and AT LEAST triple it for a weekend engagement

And remember, expenses are billed separately! So check out the blog post for more information, and listen in to the radio show for my explanation of fees.

And, if, after that, you still have questions, ask in the comments. This is such an important question, and I want to really help. So ask away, and I’ll write a follow up post trying to answer them all!

If you want to learn more about how to earn larger fees and start using business principles to grow your ministry, check out my audio download, Treating Speaking as a Business. It’s only $12, and comes with a spreadsheet that helps you prioritize your marketing ideas and figure out where to grow. I know it will help!

How to Write a Newsletter People Will Read

Photo by SCA Svenska

What builds a speaking ministry (or any business, for that matter)? Word of mouth! And what builds word of mouth? The ability to keep yourself at the top of people’s consciousness.

I’ve been blogging and writing and teaching for a few years now on the importance of word of mouth in building a speaking ministry. You can’t succeed through advertising or glossy packages. You need people to recommend you. But here’s the problem:

Let’s say that you’re speaking for free for a year, as I often recommend, building up your speaking skills and taking some recordings of yourself talking so you can make them into YouTube clips or CDs to sell. That’s all great, but when you want to start charging for speaking, you need people to hire you. And the people who are most likely to hire you are those who have already heard you, or those who hear your name recommended from those who have already heard you.

In other words, the people who hear you, even when you speak for free, are the people who are going to build your speaking ministry.

So do those people know how to get in touch with you? Will they even remember your name?

Let’s say that you do a great job, and you have business cards on your table for people to take so they can get in touch with you later. That’s very useful, but the only people likely to take those business cards are those who are already involved in women’s ministry committees. Let’s say Sally hears you speak, and she loves you, but she’s not on a committee. She has no reason to take a business card.

Six months later she’s taking to her sister on the phone, and her sister mentions that she’s been charged with finding a speaker for their spring retreat. She asks Sally if she has any ideas. Sally remembers you, but she can’t remember your last name. So the conversation goes no farther.

Now let’s say that you collected Sally’s email at that talk, and you’ve been sending out a fun, informative and useful newsletter ever since. Suddenly, when her sister asks, Sally just goes into her email folder and forwards your newsletter to her sister. Presto! Word of mouth.

So here are some steps in getting a newsletter going:

1. Collect Email Addresses

Either hand out ballots for a draw to everyone who is there, or else invite people to sign up for your newsletter at your table, in exchange for being entered in a draw. On the ballots, leave a box they can check if they want to receive your newsletter. I usually get about a 30% positive rate on ballots, which is pretty good!

2. Consider Your Niche

You now want to write a newsletter that is full of interesting things for people in your niche. So instead of thinking of the newsletter as sharing YOUR news, think of it as sharing information THEY need. Your audience is your starting point, not you.

So who is your niche? Is it all women in general? Young moms? Women who want a deeper relationship with God? Abuse survivors? Working women? Identify them well, and then ask yourself: what major things do they struggle with? What quick information do they want? What are their five main problems? Write these down!

3. Include Things That Answer These Problems

If your group is interested in combining work and family, then include an article that’s fairly short on how to do just that. Then link to 3 or 4 other articles on the web (they don’t have to be written by you!) that address the same sorts of issues.

Think of your newsletter as being something that will encourage them and that will be a resource for them.

4. Link to Fun Things

Also always include something fun! YouTube videos are great to include, because they are often forwarded. So find something funny that’s right in your niche and include a link to it! If people like it, then the next time your newsletter comes into their email, they’ll check to see if you have another funny link!

You can also link to a humour article, a funny cartoon, or anything that tickles your fancy that’s really fast to watch! And don’t forget statistics! If there’s a new study in your field, link to that, because people love up to date information.

5. Ask Questions

People like interaction! Create a poll around a specific issue in your niche, like “when do you start kids on chores?”, “how do you fit in devotions?”, or “what’s your favourite book of the Bible?” Host the poll on your Facebook Page or your blog, and invite them to answer!

6. Link to Your Social Media Sites

It’s wonderful to send emails, but if you can engage people in multiple ways, they’re more likely to remember you. So invite them to join your Facebook Page, or invite them to follow your blog. Search on Facebook for widgets to include to have people follow your Facebook Page. Then you can just embed them right in your newsletter!

7. Include Information on Where You’re Speaking

Finally, in one of the columns of your newsletter, list your speaking engagements that are coming up, or the ones you’ve just done, to show that you’re in demand. Include a few pictures. Let people think of you as a “speaker”. And if you’ve just created a new retreat package or a new talk, make a SMALL announcement about it! Don’t make this the main article in your newsletter because it doesn’t actually help people–it’s just spreading news about yourself. But do position it in a side column in a very visible spot!

8. Make Your Newsletter Slick

Your newsletter should be easy to read, filled with one article, and then lots of short, fun things. It should be colourful. It should have links to other sites. And it should be interesting!

That can be hard to design on your own. I use MailChimp, which makes sending out newsletters so easy! They have a ton of great templates, and best of all, it’s free to use if you have under 2000 subscribers.

9. Send it Out Regularly

Once you have email addresses, send your newsletter out on a regular basis, let’s say every month or six weeks. You don’t want to try to do it too much, or people will get overwhelmed. But if you don’t do it often enough they forget about you!

Those are the key things for a newsletter: Think of it as providing content people want, not just providing news about what you’re doing. Make it quick, with lots of shorter things, rather than too many long ones. Make it easy to scan. And you’ll end up creating something with value that people will want to read!

Remember, if you’re linking to things around the web, it doesn’t even take a lot of writing on your part (which makes it easier for you!). Just think of your niche, supply them with interesting, helpful things, and they will remember you!

Does anyone send out a newsletter? What have you found that works? Let me know in the comments!

Answering Your Questions

Yesterday on my Use Your Words BlogTalkRadio show I answered a bunch of questions that you all had put up on the wall of our Facebook group! Do listen in and get answers to questions like: How do I decide what to speak on? Do I need more than one talk? How do I branch out to speak beyond my church? What is my niche? Should I write a book? What do I do with CDs?

I thought it might be useful, though, to put up a post with links to other blog posts where I also tackled some of these questions. I know some of you are new to this blog, and you don’t really know where to start. So, in a nutshell, here are my thoughts on some of these issues:

What Should I Speak About?

How Do I Start Charging?

Writing a Book

How Do I Get Those Beginning Engagements?

I hope these links help you peruse this blog a little better, and answer some questions! If you have more, please leave a comment! I’m always looking for new things to write about or to devote my radio program to!

Accepting Where You are in Your Ministry

This morning, for my mom blog, I wrote a post about accepting where you are, and not berating yourself for not reaching goals.

I thought it was a message we speakers needed to hear, too.

Many years ago, when I was in my early twenties, I made some career goals for myself. One in particular I was supposed to have attained when I hit 40.

Guess what? It’s not going to happen. For years I was trying to twist myself into a pretzel to try to shortcut my way to that goal, so that when my 41st birthday hit I would have done it. But no matter what I do at this point I won’t have time to meet that goal. It’s fallen by the wayside.

I’ve realized that the issue isn’t whether or not I meet the goal; the issue is whether or not I am at peace about not meeting that goal.

We women just don’t tend to like ourselves. We can see all our shortcomings, and we feel as if we should be pushing ourselves, beating ourselves, forcing ourselves to change and be different. Our ministries should have grown more by now. We should have more bookings. I promised myself if I started speaking I wouldn’t be a drain on the family, and I should have arrived further by now.

Or perhaps the issues are more personal: We shouldn’t be this heavy; we should exercise more, lose weight, eat less. We shouldn’t be this shy; we should have more friends, more social engagements, more people over to dinner.

Do all those “shoulds” help you actually accomplish anything? Or do they just paralyze you?

I find so often that when we set up goals for ourselves, we just end up paralyzed, unable to move forward, because we feel overwhelmed and guilty. I know goal setting can be important, and some goals are worthy. But not all goals are.

Let’s go back to my professional goal that I had for myself at 40. I wanted to have created several entrepreneurial enterprises which would have brought in a certain dollar figure in income. Do you know why I won’t meet that goal? It’s because since I made that goal, my life has changed. I decided to homeschool my children. I decided to work with the youth of our church. I decided to do more at home to support my husband’s career, because our life was becoming too busy. I made decisions that were smart for my family, but those decisions made that goal pretty much impossible to attain. Usually the reason that we haven’t met a goal in our lives is not because we’re lazy and undisciplined; often it’s because we have used our time to do something else. We have decided that something else is momentarily more important than that goal.

You may feel called to speaking, but if you haven’t built a huge website yet, if you haven’t created that video, if you haven’t built a huge following on Facebook, does that mean that you have somehow failed? Does it mean that you weren’t serious about your goal?

I spent three years feeling guilty about not starting a blog. I knew I had to blog; I knew I had to build my platform on the internet, but I didn’t do it, and no amount of feeling guilty about it made me do it. When I finally launched it, I realized why it was smart that I had waited. It takes a lot of time to blog consistently and to write interesting posts. And during those three years I had other things to do. I was homeschooling my kids. I was trying to juggle making good meals with all the time I needed to spend with them and still write my column and write magazine articles.

Was my goal good? Sure. But there were other things that were more important, and I do not have a limitless amount of time. When my children stopped taking as much time to homeschool, because they could do more on their own, I suddenly had time to blog.

Here’s the truth: we cannot do everything. We cannot grow our online presence, and generate tons of speaking engagements, and keep our part-time job, and maintain the perfect body, and maintain a perfect home, and spend tons of time with the kids, and have romantic getaways with our husbands, and create small businesses to make income for our families. We just can’t. Why not instead talk to God about what is good enough in each of those areas of your life? And then accept the good enough; don’t keep feeling badly that you’re not doing more.

Of course, many of us aren’t getting important things done because we waste time. We spend too much time in front of the TV, or the computer, or on the phone. If that’s the case, then maybe you need to re-evaluate. You certainly don’t want television to keep you from attaining an important goal in your family. But many of us don’t have that many hours, even if we wanted to find them. They’re already being used. And we still, after all, do need downtime.

I think we are completely unrealistic about what is possible for us to accomplish in this life. Everything comes with a price, and if you’re not willing to pay the price, then that’s okay. But don’t just say, “I don’t have time to do this,” and then continue to feel guilty. Say, “I don’t have time to reach this goal,” and then accept it. Accept who you are right now, even with your limitations, because you are doing the best you can. And your best is always good enough.

Isn’t that what we tell our children? We don’t care what they get on the test, as long as they tried their best. If they get a 95% but they didn’t try, we’d be unhappy. But if they got a 65% and that genuinely was their best, then that’s okay. We’d get them some more help, but we wouldn’t be angry.

So why be angry at ourselves? If we’re doing our best, and we’re talking to God about how to prioritize our lives, and we’re talking to our husbands about our lives, then let’s give ourselves a break. We’re doing what we can do, and in this season of our life, this is the best we can offer. Don’t compare yourself to someone with more time, more money, or more energy, because that is not how God made you. Just be the best of who you were made to be, and whatever that is, that is okay. And God will bless you and open doors when you are being responsible in all areas of your life. Do what you can, and God will bless your efforts, even if they’re meager. When you’re in a position to make more effort, your ministry may grow more.

But if you’re not in that position now, don’t feel badly about it. Do what you can, and that is enough. The rest is up to God.

Wouldn’t that feel so much better?

If you want to keep talking about these sorts of issues, do join our Facebook group!

When You Feel Like an Impostor

Photo by Xenia Antunes

I smiled, hugged, and waved at the women who organized the women’s day as I opened the trunk to deposit my props and books inside. Clicking the unlock button, I climbed in the driver’s side, and turned the car keys as I rolled the window down. One more wave, I thought, as the smile was plastered on my face. They waved back, laughing and smiling.

And then I was out the driveway, onto the highway, heading home. The smile came off of my face. I exhaled loudly, slumped in my seat, set the cruise control, and hunted for a radio station to fill the car with music so I wouldn’t be alone with my thoughts.

I felt like an impostor.

I think that is one of the most common feelings speakers have after an engagement–or perhaps even before one! We worry about whether we were present our message properly, whether our message was relevant, correct, and effective. We’re nervous. We’re scared. And yet we have to appear upbeat, energetic, and excited all day as we’re surrounded by women who are hanging on to our every word.

At times it feels more like being in a high school play than it does delivering God’s message. So many times I feel as if I have been acting.

And I have learned that this is not necessarily a bad thing.

A phrase hit me this week as I was loading up the car with books, once again, to drive three hours away from my family to speak at a retreat. God said to me,

Can you offer me a sacrifice?

And in many ways, that’s what speaking is. It is hard to believe that, perhaps, when you are just starting out and you’re so desperate to get some speaking engagements. In many ways the inception of a ministry is a wonderful time–a period of dreaming and visioning and working and excitement.

But the time comes when those speaking engagements roll in, and we are consumed with doubt. I know my messages are effective. People tell me they are, they cry with me, they pray with me, and most of all, perhaps, they ask me back.

I also know, though, that some of the best days I have had speaking are not days when I have felt particularly energetic. They’re days when I had to push myself. When I had to remember that it was God who originally helped me to write this message, and it was God who gave me the gifts to deliver it. And so I deliver it, and I see the impact, but in the meantime I’m thinking about missing my own church that Sunday, and wondering how the youth are doing without me (I teach their class). And I’m wondering if Katie made it back from Youth group okay last night, and if she’s made up with that friend who was being silly to her last week. And I’m wondering if my husband’s okay, because he was on call on Friday night and he’s always tense being on call when I’m not there, because he hates having to leave the girls (even though they are teenagers now).

And quite frankly, I want an afternoon to knit. I haven’t had an afternoon to myself in a while, and I’m tired.

Yet nevertheless, despite all these things running through my mind, I plaster a smile on my face, and I deliver my message.

Am I an impostor?

Photo by doortoriver

No. I’m not. Here’s what I realized, driving back through the array of fall colours last weekend. Those words I spoke were true–whether or not I was excited by them right then. I have heard them so many times, given them so many times, that I sometimes miss the power of them. But God’s power is still there, in those words, and He does not depend upon my mood. He simply asks to use me–even if I’m not excited at that very moment.

Isn’t that what a sacrifice is? To offer yourself to God, knowing that what you have to share is important, even if your feelings aren’t necessarily in line right now? I’m not talking about sin in your life. If there are major sins, we definitely have to bring those before the Lord and work them through before we stand in front of an audience. But sometimes we’re just engulfed in our humanity–worried about health concerns, or family, or laundry, or church. And none of those things stops just because we have a speaking engagement.

Here’s another scene that is repeated many times when I speak: I am standing alongside my book table, shaking hands, hugging teary women, praying wih some. So many come to me and say, “that was just wonderful. You spoke directly to me.”

And I don’t know what to say. I want to cry, “I’m glad, but I’m worried about my daughter, and I wish that I could have been there for her today!” I want to say, “I sometimes wonder if I’ve lost my enthusiasm for this; why aren’t I more excited today?”

But I don’t feel that I can say those things, and so I simply smile and say, “thank you for telling me. I’m so glad.” And I leave it like that, empty, hanging in the air, as if there was something else that really should have been said.

I don’t leave it hanging anymore. Sometimes, in those moments when people sing my praises, I just decide to be honest once again. I say, “Thank you for that encouragement. I needed that today. I’m tired, and I sometimes wonder if I’m having an impact. So it’s so great to know that God can use me even with all the things I’ve got running through my mind, too!”

People appreciate that. They like knowing I’m human, too. And so I have realized I don’t have to be an impostor. I don’t have to pretend that everything is okay, that I was completely excited to be there, that there was no other place I would rather be, no other people who are tickling at the edges of my brain, no other concerns that I can’t seem to leave behind. It is not “acting” to act excited on stage, to deliver your message with a passion that you don’t necessarily feel. It is simply giving it the attention that it deserves because it is God’s message, and it IS exciting.

And usually, once I start, that excitement returns. Berate myself for feeling selfish, and it doesn’t.

I am trying to practice the art of being quiet on the drive home, of letting God speak to my heart, and quiet me after delivering a retreat. I am trying not to flee from the people who tell me that I spoke to them, trying not to flee from the thoughts that accuse me of not being worthy to speak because my heart is sometimes divided. I am simply offering God a sacrifice–my time and attention and energy–and a sacrifice has to cost something. In this case, it costs my emotions and my energy, and it is lovingly offered, even if sometimes it is difficult.

We cannot expect ourselves to be always on an even emotional level when we speak. Some days we will be over-the-top energetic. Other days we won’t. But God stays the same. And we are offering Him our sacrifice. We are offering Him our best delivery–even if we’re tired. And I believe He is happy with that, and that He will use it, if it is honestly offered, even in the midst of worry or exhaustion.

Redesigning my Speaker Training

Hello fellow speakers!

It’s been almost a year and a half since I launched this blog, and exactly a year ago since I started doing tele seminars and e-courses online. I’ve loved connecting with so many of you and I’ve been honored that you have appreciated the words and experience that I’ve had to share with you.

More recently I’ve been conducting a BlogTalkRadio show on Tuesdays on Christian Women Affiliate, and I’ve started a Facebook page where we can all gather and ask advice and ask for prayer!

All of this has been done a little haphazardly, because I wasn’t sure where I was going when it all started. But this summer I’m going to hunker down and plan how to make this the most effective speaker training that I can give you for women’s ministry, at a very affordable (or even free) cost!

What I’ve decided is that some things take a little bit too much time, and I’m going to have to redesign them. Other things I need to start doing because I think they’d be more useful for you. So one big change I’ve decided is that instead of doing my radio show, I’m going to record 10 minute videos, hopefully one a week, that can help you. That way it will be easier for you to search for exactly the information you want, and you can just listen to that part!

I’m also going to separate my Twitter account into my regular account and my speaker training. So if you’ve been following me at Sheila Gregoire, switch over to womensspeaker! Or follow both!

So here’s what you can expect from me:

1. Twice weekly blog posts on something to do with a speaking ministry. I’d love to publish guest posts, so if you have anything burning you’d like to share, or if you want to get your name out there more and have a topic that you think would interest other speakers, send it to me and I’d be glad to consider it! (FREE)

2. Once weekly videos on something practical to do with speaking. I get asked certain questions a lot–how do I get my first engagement, what marketing materials should I have, how do I get less nervous, and I want to put my answers to these in an easy place! (FREE)

3. Amazing teleseminars chock full of information you’ll find invaluable–and accompanied by a very detailed handout so that you can put this stuff to work right away! I’ll do about four of these this summer (more information on dates and times soon), and then hopefully at least once a month starting in the fall.  Here are some that we’re going to be doing soon: how to speak without notes; how to get your first paid speaking engagement; how to perfect your stage presence; how to launch your ministry. ($10)

4. E-courses that will teach you the business aspect of speaking, the marketing aspect of speaking, and the spiritual aspect of speaking, including how to create a talk that will change lives. These are so useful, and I want to keep the price really low so that more of you can start to use the gifts that God has given you! ($40-$75)

5. Consultant work. Do you want me to listen to one of your talks and critique it? I’ve had a number of requests, and I’m thinking I’m going to add this to my list of services in the fall. More information soon! I’ll also be available for phone consultations on marketing aspects of your ministry. ($25/30 minutes)

6. My Facebook and Twitter updates, which will also be full of information, and will be a great place to meet other speakers! We could even arrange for a Twitter or Facebook party every now and then, where we can all get together and ask questions! (FREE)

As you can see, most of this stuff is totally free! And you can get complete training for starting your speaking ministry for about $100, which would include the e-course and a number of tele seminars. I’m making this affordable so that together we can continue to spread God’s message.

Is there anything else you want me to offer? Let me know in the comments! And for now, I’m so happy that we can work together, and I hope I can continue to be an encouragement to you!

The Ten Qualities of a Gifted Women’s Speaker

Picture of N.J. Lindquist, Canadian author and speaker

If you’re wondering whether or not God has called you to speaking, here are the ten qualities that I think best define a gifted women’s speaker. I should note that several of these I struggle with–finding time for prayer, for instance. But making this list encourages me to aim higher and rely on God more, so even if you’re not totally there yet, at least this gives you something to aim for!

1. Focuses on Christ and Him crucified. 1 Corinthians 2:2 says,

For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified.

Paul was writing to the Corinthian church about his credentials as an apostle, and he states that whatever he said, it always came back to the cross. If you’re to be an effective women’s speaker, whatever you say has to be centered around the cross. Your message needs to be centered around the cross. Your life needs to be centered around the cross. Otherwise, why are we doing this?

2. Realizes that It’s Not About You. Closely related to #1, #2 says that the purpose of speaking is not to spread our own ministry or fame, but to spread God’s fame. When you tell your story, it’s not to glorify yourself. It’s to point to what God has done in your life, and to show others what He can do in theirs. This is a tricky one, because we’re human, and it’s nice to get accolades. But a good speaker remembers that her gifts come from God, not from herself. I have listened to other speakers compare their writings to Scripture. I have listened to other speakers do such an intense selling pitch for their books and CDs that I’ve felt embarrassed for them. It’s fine to draw attention to resources that you believe will draw others closer to Him. But let’s do it in that spirit.

3. Relies on God for Her Energy and Motivation. You can’t do this yourself. You can’t will yourself to be good, to be energetic, to be happy, to be inspiring. Only God can do that for you, so you have to spend time dedicated to prayer, to getting yourself in a good place so that you can share with others. Don’t try to do it in your own strength.

4. Stays Current with God. You can’t share your story and your walk if you don’t have one. Maybe you have a great story of victory, but if that victory happened eight years ago, and you’ve been coasting on it ever since, something’s wrong. I find that my signature talks and signature retreats change every year because God is doing something new in me. When my story changes, my talks change, too. Make sure that your relationship with God is fresh.

5. Understands Her Audience. You may not always be talking to people exactly like you. In fact, you usually won’t be. A good speaker thinks about how her message will be received and interpreted; she doesn’t just share what she wants to share. If you’re married, remember that a good portion of those in your audience will be single, widowed, or divorced. Don’t make all your anecdotes relate to marriage. Likewise, if you became a Christian later in life and lived a rather promiscuous existence beforehand, don’t glory too much in that, because many won’t relate to you. Know your audience: their church background (or lack thereof), their cultural background, their age, their marital status. Make sure that you try to reach out to everyone in whatever walk of life.

6. Tells Stories that People can Relate To. A gifted speaker doesn’t just teach. She doesn’t only open up the Bible and expound on its theological significance. She uses stories and anecdotes that can hit home to people. Audiences tend to relate best to stories; make sure that you include lots of them! This isn’t “dumbing down” your talk at all; it’s making it more accessible, and more likely that people will remember it. It’s also touching them emotionally, and if the emotions aren’t engaged as well as the head, then it’s unlikely that they will open themselves up to hear from God.

7. Speaks Confidently. Do you find yourself relying too heavily on your notes? If you can’t remember what you’re saying, how do you expect the audience to remember? I know that’s a tall order, but I do believe that as you practice and speak more and more, you will require notes less and less. I usually take one sheet of paper up with me, at the most, with keywords written down to jog my memory about what comes next. And what about speaking skills in general? A gifted speaker is one that puts the audience at ease. They won’t be at ease if they think you’re nervous. So practice speaking in front of a mirror. Listen to a recording of yourself so you can tell if you’re too fast or too slow. Don’t be afraid of leaving pauses instead of “ummms” or “okays”. Act confident and people are more inclined to listen to you.

8. Knows The Point of What She is Saying. Have you ever listened to a talk and thought to yourself, “that was very entertaining, but I have no idea what they want me to do now?” Don’t let that be you! Always know what ONE main point you’re making, and what ONE main change  you’re encouraging the women to make in their lives. If you have five points, they’ll never remember them all. If you have too many applications, they’ll never do them. Ultimately we usually only need one application, anyway, and chances are it goes something like this: move deeper into a level of trust with God, whether it’s with my heart, my marriage, my finances, my kids, my career, or my calling. Your goal is to help move people so that they’re willing to take that next step. So know that. Have everything lead  up to that. Don’t just entertain; tell stories and teach with a purpose. If you can sum up your talk clearly in one sentence before you begin, chances are people will be able to parrot it back to you after you finish. But if you can’t sum it up, chances are they won’t be able to tell you what changes you want them to make, either.

9. Constantly Seeks New Opportunities To Grow. We’re never done when it comes to learning how to speak well. My ministry was expanding and growing well when I got a hold of the book Communicating for a Change: Seven Keys to Irresistible Communication
by Andy Stanley, which opened my eyes up to ways that I was hindering people’s ability to respond clearly to my talks.
I changed the entire format of everything I said. And my ministry continued to grow. I could have just coasted, because things were going well, but I believe that we all need to keep getting training, critiquing, and new ideas, because we’ve never “arrived”. This fall, one of the ministries I partner with is bringing in a performance trainer to help us hone our message. I’ll have to deliver it and he’ll then critique me. Is that scary? You betcha! But I know it will be worth it! If you need to continue your training, I have lots of resources right here. They’re not expensive, and I know they will help!

10. Acts Professionally. She dresses well (not because she’s vain, but because she wants to appear authoritative). She communicates well and clearly with the event organizers. She’s upfront about whether or not she charges a fee so that the organizers aren’t nervous about this. She charges what she’s worth, but she’s always open to the Spirit about amending things at times. She tells the organizers what to expect, and she doesn’t just say, “I’ll do anything you want”. She has a web presence so people can find her! All of this is not about spreading her own fame, but because if she doesn’t do these things, her ministry won’t grow, and her message won’t get out there. Speaking isn’t a business; it’s a ministry. But it will always be more effective if we apply some sound business principles to it.

Do these things, and God will expand your ministry! He wants to reach people, and He wants to use us to do it. We just need to be willing, get the training, and be effective.

What do you think? Which is the biggest struggle for you? Did I miss something important? Is there one that you would take out? Let’s talk about it in the comments, or debate with me over in our Facebook group!

Use Your Words: Making a Living from Speaking

Today’s Use Your Words BlogTalkRadio program addressed the question, “Can I really make a living speaking”? If you didn’t get a chance to listen live, listen in now right here!

If that question is nagging at you, though, here are my thoughts.

First, of course it’s a tension between income and ministry. We think that if we’re doing something for God, it should be free. And He may be calling some of you to speak for free, or to speak on faith! But I do think it’s okay to charge. If you are dedicating your time to speaking, you need to also make a living out of it. Few families can afford to have someone driving all over the place, gone for long amounts of time, without generating an income.

So if you need that income, here are some ideas:

Multiple Income Streams work best

I once heard a career coach say that it is easier to make $100,000 by making $10,000 from 10 sources than by making $100,000 from one, and I think she’s right. If you’re aiming to make a living speaking, you’re probably looking at wanting to make around $40,000. It’s easier to make $10,000 from 4 sources than to make $40,000 from one source. So what are those sources?

You may be able to come up with some other ones, but in general, those are the four biggies. So let’s look at each in turn.

Fees

It’s hard to make $40,000 from fees alone without burning yourself out. Even if you charge $2000 for a weekend retreat (which only a few speakers can manage, and only in a few geographical areas), you’d be looking at speaking 20 weekends a year. That’s almost half of all available weekends, if you subtract Christmas, Easter, Thanksgiving, etc. Few of us would be willing to give up all of our weekends. And if you only charge $1000 for a full weekend, which is more the median fee, you’d have to speak for 40 weekends. Pretty well impossible.

You could do a combination of weekends/weeknights, of course. If you charged $400 for a weeknight, and $1000 for a weekend, you’d have to do 20 weekends and 50 weeknights. That’s ten full weeks of speaking each and every night.

Those who manage to do this tend to speak in bunches: they’ll speak every weekend and a bunch of nights in October, or they’ll be on the road all through April. They tend to get their engagements through a booking agent.

It can work, but it’s very tiring and it takes you away from your family a great deal. Fees alone will not take you to a reasonable income. You need to supplement with something else.

2. Book Table Sales

In general, I make more from sales at my product table than I do from speaking fees. And products can be very useful for the kingdom! If people like what you have said, and if they have felt God’s presence, they want to continue that. If they can buy a book, a CD, a Bible study, or a workbook that takes them deeper into your message, they’ll get great benefit from it.

So don’t think of it as “selling junk” (and please don’t sell junk!). Offer products that are useful and that expand on your message. The cheapest to produce would be:

  1. CDs of your talks
  2. Bible studies on the subject of your talk (publish them in a binder with an insert for the cover)
  3. Workbook with charts, lists, or Bible verses that help them work through your talk

More expensive ones would be:

  1. DVDs of your talks
  2. Self-published (or royalty published) books

But the sky is the limit! Listen in to a teleseminar on how to create and sell these products here. It’ll give you so many ideas your brain will be working overtime!

3. Writing

Once you have gained some recognition, you can write columns or articles in your denominational magazine or newspaper, or in local newspapers (my column is published in secular newspapers, but it goes out to a few hundred thousand homes every week). You already know how to communicate by speaking. Learn how to communicate by writing, too! Attend some Christian writing conferences to network and get some ideas. Sally Stuart’s book Christian Writers’ Market Guide 2010is very helpful when it comes to breaking into magazines and newspapers. And don’t forget that many websites are popping up that pay for content!

In general, magazine and column writing will pay more than book writing, if you do it regularly. Unless you become a best-selling author, selling short pieces tends to make more money. So don’t dismiss these short pieces! Do your research, and see if you can turn some of your talks into articles!

4. Internet Sales

If you’ve been following along with my Use Your Words radio program, and reading this blog, you know that I’m a big believer in having a web presence to get speaking engagements. People want to check you out online before they take the plunge and hire you. So you need to set up a good blog or website. And you need to be engaged in Facebook or Twitter or other social media sites.

So you’ve done that. You’ve been writing high quality blog posts. You have readers. What do you do with them?

It is not enough simply to write. If you have the readers, you have to give them something to buy so they can take your message to the next level. Offer audio downloads of some of your talks. Create e-books of devotionals, or collections of your best blog posts or articles. Create reports on how to parent better, discipline better, pray better, or anything! If you speak on organization, sell a collection of reproducible charts or lists. Sell a collection of Bible verses people can cut out that speak directly to your topic! The list is endless. And as these downloadable products are purchased, the buyers get them immediately without you having to mail a thing. It couldn’t be easier!

If you’re confused about how to set this up, or you want to explore this idea further, this talk takes you through the steps.

You can also turn your internet customers into members by creating a membership site. Regular viewers can see your blog posts, but if they want access to articles or special videos, they have to pay a premium. It doesn’t have to be very much, but each little bit adds up, especially since it doesn’t mean any more work for you!

If you work steadily at each of these areas, you’ll soon find that you have little bits of money flowing in from different directions. And little bits can add up to a healthy income. Best of all, you’re enlarging the kingdom by reaching people in all different ways. So don’t create junk; create quality talks, products, and posts, and you’ll find that if you combine all of these aspects, you can indeed make a living by spreading the message God has given you!

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Gaining Confidence to Speak

I have just loved getting to know so many of you through my BlogTalkRadio show and networking with you in the Facebook group, as well as talking to you all in teleseminars! There’s a wealth of information out there about speaking, and I’ve asked you to send me guest posts, which I’ll run when I think the time is right.

Today, then, Beth Jones joins us. She’s a speaker and a writer who devotes her ministry to making sure that it’s focused first and foremost on God. Today she’s written us a post on how to gain confidence–and how to project confidence–when you speak! Thanks, Beth!

Beth writes:

As Christian speakers we desire to please God first, to connect with and to bless women in the audience, to minister to their real needs, to impart the message burning in our hearts – and to have lots of FUN!  As we come up on stage and fight those pre-speaking jitters, one thing we really want to do is to have and to exude confidence.  Confidence in the Lord.  But how do we do that, especially if it’s a big crowd, we’re in a new region out of our comfort zone, and/or we’re not sure how the message we’ve prepared is going to go over?  What are some practical ways we can have and portray confidence in our speaking?

  1.  Get your “rhema” word straight from the Source – by sitting at Jesus’ feet first before you speak!  A rhema is from the
    Bible Study with Plano friends
    Image by [[Neo]] via Flickr

    Greek word for utterance, and is a verse of Scripture that the Holy Spirit brings to our attention applying to a current situation or need for direction. It is a NOW, right-on word, a word in “due season” that you really need!  (Proverbs 15: 23, AKJV)

 As Christians we’ve all heard stories from the Bible many times, and not to be irreverent or totally self-absorbed, but sometimes we may think, “So what? How does that apply to me today? What’s that got to do with me?” Your audience will think this, too.  “Moses led the people out of Egypt…” Yawn.  Peter walked on the water in faith. Yeah, yeah.  Make sure your prepared speech is a relevant message for your audience, that it will minister to their hearts.

 The way you can be certain of that is by spending time with God first and by hearing His specific word for that audience. Get quiet and still before God, and listen.  Even if you’ve given this same speech over and over, the Holy Spirit will tweak it to meet those women’s particular needs. Then you can speak with confidence to these women because you are sharing the very word of the Lord with them.

 2. Realize it’s not about you.  Don’t be ridiculous, right? As Christian speakers, we know that, it’s all about God and spreading His kingdom! He will share His glory with no one. (Isaiah 42:8)  If we know that, then why do we get nervous? Because we’re afraid of failing. We’re afraid of totally bombing this one, and people not liking us. We’re afraid of rejection.

 As we spend time in prayer with God, studying His word and hearing His small, still voice, and we recognize in humility that God is the one who gave us this assignment and mission to accomplish, then we can move out of the way and allow His Holy Spirit to flow through us. We didn’t do anything to deserve or earn this honor and opportunity; it came from God’s hands of grace. 

 With that humble knowledge, we can focus on what is important:  pointing everyone to Jesus. It’s not about you or me; it’s about Him and the good news of Jesus. Give your anxieties to God. Surrender this engagement to Him.

 As we keep our eyes on Jesus and not on ourselves and our own “perfect” performance, we will speak with confidence in the Lord. Our words will have weight and authority, because they are God-inspired and God-directed.

3.     Pray for God’s love for these women. What changes lives is God’s truth and love. We don’t want to just give some little generic message that makes the audience croon, “Oh, that was nice.”  I don’t want to be nice! Well, okay, I do want to be a nice person, but what I desire as a speaker is to IMPACT and TRANSFORM lives with the revelation of God’s two-edged sword word and the power of His Spirit!  And it is God’s love that changes lives. 

the Stainned Gless of depicting the Holy Spirit.
Image via Wikipedia

 Ask God to give you His agape love for these women. They will sense it coming from your innermost being as you share –living waters like Jesus gave the woman at the well. (John 4: 5-40, NKJV)  We won’t have that love for the audience unless we first receive it from God.

 Pray and seek that love from God to give to them, and then you will confidently speak. When you really love others, you don’t have to perform or worry about messing up. That love inside of you is more concerned with esteeming others than self.  (Philippians 2: 3-5, NKJV)

4.     Let’s be real, authentic, ourselves. One of the deadliest things we can do to ourselves as speakers is to compare ourselves to others or try to be someone we’re not.  When you try to pretend you’re someone that God didn’t create you to be – i.e., trying to be being clown funny as you speak when you were born a melancholy, serious personality or acting demure and discreet when you’re really a loud, outgoing Sanguine – it doesn’t “gel” with the audience.  

 People can spot “fake” a mile off. Just be you.  You don’t have to try to be like the other great Christian speakers. God didn’t make you like them.  Stop comparing yourself to them, and stop envying them and their successes. When you’re authentic, truthful, sincere, this will minister far beyond what you can even imagine.  “Real” and “transparent” help people to relate to you, to connect their heart to yours.

 When you’re just being yourself, you will be confident as you speak. Pretending or trying to perform will just make you tense, and the audience will pick up on that.  Nobody can be you better than you!  We all have areas of our lives where we need shaping, refining, and improving, even as speakers, but God loves and accepts you just the way you are – and wants to use you just the way you are.  You are God’s masterpiece, created wonderfully and fearfully in His image!   (Psalm 139: 14)  It’s you He asked to give His message to them.  Just tell Him thank you, be yourself, open your mouth, and watch God work mightily!

There are other ways we can use to have more confidence as we speak, such as incorporating humor into our message, knowing our topic thoroughly, having our message well rehearsed or even memorized, using few notes, making good eye contact with the audience, and dressing attractively.  I know that whenever I buy a new outfit to speak, it sure helps me to feel more confident!  However, the most important confidence-boosters are internal.

 As you sit at Jesus’ feet for His rhema word for that audience, realize it’s not about you, pray for God’s love for these women, and just be yourself, you will speak with bold confidence in the Lord, and your message will deeply minister and make a life-changing difference in these women’s lives. They will take away the precious and priceless gem that God and you have given them in your important message, and you and they will be greatly blessed!

Find Beth Jones at www.bethjones.net, and at her Facebook page!

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Generating Word of Mouth for Your Ministry

A few weeks ago we had a wonderful guest post from my friend Heidi McLaughlin, writing about how her ministry got started and began to fluorish. Here’s something she said:

A few years ago I was in Atlanta, Georgia; surrounded with famous speakers and authors who had agents and were walking around with their leather briefcases and linking arms with their private publicists. I realized I was in over my head, and for me that is a good realization. When I went to bed that night I clearly remember the words of my desperate prayer, “God, I can’t do this-it’s too big. I can’t afford a publicist and I don’t even know how to get my speaking engagements. God, you are going to have to be my agent and publicist.”

To this day, my bookings come strictly through “word of mouth.” I believe if we have a powerful message, passion, and fully believe we are part of God’s Kingdom work, and are joining Him where He is already at work, God will open the necessary doors. Pray and wait expectantly for Him to orchestrate your calendar.

I can relate to Heidi! I don’t use a booking agent, either, though I have considered it. The truth is I’m too busy without one! And the reason I’m busy is not because I’ve mailed out slick packages to churches, or because I’ve taken out ads in big magazines about my ministry. It’s simply because of word of mouth.

In a survey I did of women’s ministry leaders recently, I asked how many had hired a speaker because they had received promotional materials from that speaker. Nobody said yes. On the other hand, one third had hired speakers based on word of mouth; one half because they had heard them speak somewhere else before; and the rest because they had been suggested by the denomination or a parachurch organization. Word of mouth is what clinches engagements; slick marketing materials do not. So please, don’t spend the money on them!

What you should do, I think, are two things:

1. Get good

2. Make it easy for people to find you.

That’s not so hard, is it? :)

Let’s take them one by one.

1. Get Good.

Get some training! Take my teleseminars, or invest in my e-course. They aren’t expensive, and you can get all  you need to start speaking for under $100! I’m trying to keep it really low because I want to help build the kingdom; I don’t want to get rich off of this.

Once you have the training, there’s no substitute for speaking. We need practice. We need to be able to tell our stories again and again so that we get used to telling them, without needing notes for everything. We need to realize where people laugh, and where they don’t laugh. The biggest laugh line I get in one of my comedy routines is something I don’t even think is very funny. It came out of my mouth once, and people were in stitches, so I use it every time now. I still don’t think it’s funny, but it works, and I never would have realized that unless I had had the opportunity to tell that story in a live audience.

Call churches in your area that have women’s Bible studies and volunteer to come give a half hour talk at the beginning of a new session. Do it for free if you have to, but get the experience! Find out what conferences are going to be in your area and volunteer to do a workshop or breakout session for free. People are often far more likely to hire new speakers for workshops, so consider those! Women’s camps in the summer are often looking for workshop leaders, or denominational retreats often need breakout sessions. Don’t forget about homeschooling conferences, either! You may not be a homeschooler, but there are tons of them all over North America, and you can still speak on household organization, family harmony, creating scrapbooks, or something else you’re interested in that gets you in front of an audience!

2. Make it easy for people to find you.

Have a website! It’s indispensable in today’s world, because when organizers are going to hire a speaker, the first thing they tend to do is to Google you. Take out the website in your own name, and own your name as a domain name, if possible, because that’s the first place people will check. Don’t use a book title for your main website, because when you write another book, it’s not natural to go looking for you under the title of your first book!

Create a blog, and use your name. Blogspot and WordPress allow you to hide your name, but don’t do that. Plaster it prominently everywhere, so that you come up higher in search engines. Even if you decide to name your blog something different, put your own name so frequently in all the information that you’ll appear.

Create a page on Facebook for  your speaking ministry, because a lot of people start their search on Facebook now, too.

And what should be on the web page?

  • Your speaking topics
  • Clips of you speaking (if you only have audio clips, you can still make a movie using Windows Movie Maker. Use still photographs for the visuals, and then have a 2-3 minute audio clip playing in the background). Upload the clips to YouTube or Tangle (create an account under your own name, again), and then you can use their links to embed your video into your website.
  • Testimonials from others who have heard you speak
  • Your speaking schedule so others can see where you have spoken.

Do not include your fee schedule. Most people don’t, and one reason is because it may turn off people who are looking for  you to speak for free, but it will also turn off people who are hiring for bigger engagements if your fees are too low. Discuss fee once you are already in contact with them about the engagement.

Finally, when you do speak, remember to help people stay in contact with you. Let them sign up for a newsletter. Hand out business cards. Keep your website and blog prominently listed on every page of your handout. If they like you, they’re going to want to recommend you! Make that easy, and you’re far more likely to generate word of mouth!

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