Friday, April 19, 2013

How I Prep for a Speaking Engagement | Women's Retreats

I love speaking to a room full of women. Throw men in there and I freeze up like your tongue on a frozen swing set. (You know the one I'm talking about.) It's not them necessarily that intimidates me, but it's that I feel more free speaking to women because there are no reserves. You can recall the weird details about any situation and they all chuckle and shake their heads because they know! It's a sweet camaraderie.

A room full of women who are there to learn and hear and experience God contains to potential for something magical to happen.

The days and weeks leading up to an event, I try to do a variety of things to prepare.

  • PRAY - super spiritual right?

This one isn't a ritual and I don't do it because I have to, but rather because I have to! These moments of prayer aren't a focus time or even a meditation time for me and God. They are a begging, pleading and frantic one sided counseling session. Minus the leather couch.

When speaking to women strangers, the need to hear from God is of utmost importance to me because I don't know them like He does. In fact, I don't know most of them at all. But He sees their lives right now, He knows their needs right now, and He knows what He's fashioning in them, right now. I don't want to derail or weaken that.

I want to enforce it. So I pray.

  • OBSERVE - the circumstances of my own life.

I made a pact with God when I first began speaking publicly, that He could prepare me for upcoming events by giving me illustrations and teaching moments within my own life. Dangerous, but effective.

So the weeks leading up to an event, I journal and take mental notes of everything going on. What am I feeling? What arguments are Ty and I picking? Is disaster striking at an opportune time? (This may or may not be a ploy to keep buying these journals.)

Sometimes it means nothing. But occasionally, when it does, it's more powerful than any story I could have just imagined up.

  • READ - the theme verse, passage, or story.

Some retreat or conferences will give their speakers a theme to base talks off of. Some are vague and open-ended and other are more specific. Either way, I like to read it over and over and over and over and over again to get the Scripture so engrained in my brain and heart. I try to read it in different versions and write post-its for my purse, wallet and car to remind me to have it on the forefront of my mind.

  • STUDY - with Bible, commentaries, internet and notebook in hand. 

Everyone has their own study methods that work best for them, so I won't go into detail on what mine are. But the basics are to figure out what message (topic sentence) I want them to get by the end of my ramblings. I start from the end and work my way back to the beginning.

Thanks to Ty and Andrew (my pastor), I have bookshelves of commentaries and author insights into the various passages I'm studying.

*SideNote: If you have someone in your life whose expertise is Biblical Studies, use them! They are willing, able, and honored to help you. Seriously. 

  • RECORD - intros and outros.

This coming event will be my first time trying this. I voice recorded my intros for the purpose of not getting sidetracked. I know how long it's going to take to get from introductions to the text and again from the text to the end of the message. I'm hoping it keeps everything nice and packaged, minimizing the rabbit trails we all know are going to happen. We'll see if it worked.

  • REVIEW - to affirm what counts and discard what doesn't. 

I try to be done studying, researching, and writing within 7 days of an event so I have time to work through delivery and take out any nonsense I wrote while eating my medium cheese pizza. It happens. It's the clean up process.

  • THANK YOU NOTES - for the people in my life who taught me to love God.

This time, it was for my Momma. She taught me to love God and teach people about Him. Thanks Momma!

As a result of these basic steps, my organization and prep time has been more effective and the outcome more free to be powerful.

Do you have tricks or tips you use to prepare for a speaking engagement? 

"In preparing for battle I have always found that plans are useless, but planning is indispensable." --Dwight D. Eisenhower  
^^^Opinions, two-cents, questions and ramblings are welcome. And go above. Go ahead. Try it.

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