*This was first posted in June of 2011, but since so many have contacted me about how to know if God is calling them to speak and asking for advice, I thought I’d update it and share it again. I’ve also updated some of the speaker information.
Recently, I’ve had several women ask me about speaking. Many of them were women who sensed God calling them to a speaking ministry, yet they weren’t sure how to know if they were really being “called” and what to do if they were.
So today, I thought I’d use my little corner of cyberspace to encourage those who are praying about or just beginning their journey into the wide world of Christian speaking. I thought I’d do that by answering some of the questions others have asked.
So here goes, sister speakers…
1. How do you know if you’re called to speak?
Unlike public speaking, when it comes to Christian speaking – calling is crucial. It’s not a job, it’s a ministry. And just like any other ministry you have to know God is calling you to it.
You know you’re called to speak when just about everything you read in Scripture cries out, “Speak!” or “Teach!”… When the passion and pursuit of your heart is a consuming need to be a voice that speaks into peoples’ lives for the glory of God or you’re compelled to teach God’s Word, you may want to pay attention. The Lord may be knocking on your hearts door about teaching His Word or a speaking ministry.
When God uses His Word, circumstances and even the compliments of others to confirm the gift and the call…When your heart and mind swirl with ideas about what you could speak on, ways you could encourage others, how you could say something in a different way that might impact others. You know you’re called to speak when can’t “not” speak.
Gogrial Like Eric Liddell felt God’s pleasure when he ran, I feel God’s pleasure when I speak. You will know you’re called to speak when you feel His pleasure every time you do.
2. How do you get started?
That’s easy…on your knees and in the Word.
You can do what you can to get your name out there, but only God can truly open the doors. And that’s the way you want it! Speak whenever and wherever you can. Make yourself available. Teach at church; speak at schools, small local events, join speaking groups…but more than anything, pray, study and practice.
If your friends encourage you to speak, ask them to recommend you to other churches and women’s ministry leaders.
3. How do you prepare a talk/message?
While it’s true that there are different strokes for different folks, there are a few key components to preparing to teach or speak.
It’s a huge responsibility to prepare to speak to a group of people who are all in different places of need. I take it very seriously. So, I’m going to share my own personal process – as I do, you may see something that you wouldn’t feel led to do – and that’s okay. God has gifted us differently; His calling is individual.
After I receive a call or email requesting me to speak, I...
* Immediately begin to pray for the ladies I’ll be speaking to and for the message God wants me to share.
* Ask for a list of the ladies who will be attending, if possible. This forms my prayer list & I’m honored to lift each woman up in prayer before I ever meet them. It creates an unexplainable bond with them and I end up loving them like crazy. It also helps me get ahold of the heart of God for the heart of those women.
* Once I have the topic and title, I get to work studying like a wild woman. Books are spread across my desk making it unidentifiable. I write the whole message out – every word – including the verses.
* I write an outline. (I prefer to use the outline with the Scripture verses written out so I don’t get lost in too many words on the page) The outline is like a road map. It helps me know where to begin, where I’m going and it highlights the landmarks along the way.
* Then I pray some more and begin to practice. I practice out loud – I record it – I begin editing my talk based on what I sense the Lord leading me to do and on the recorded practice session. I keep practicing until I KNOW it!
* Keep in contact with the event coordinator. Request the needed equipment for visuals (I almost always use visuals) – the type of microphone you will need – tables, platforms and any details or changes you may need to know about.
* Pray. Practice. Pray. Practice. And pray and practice some more.
4. How do you deal with the fear of speaking in front of people?
The fact that God uses me to speak is one of the confirmations of the call. I’m the girl who couldn’t give an oral report without falling apart. I didn’t make the highschool cheerleading squad because I couldn’t stand in front of the judges without my lips quivering and my knees knocking.
I’m always nervous, but when I know God has called me to speak and I’m sure the message He has given me is from Him, then there’s a God-given confidence that drowns out the fear. The focus is the desire to speak from God’s heart to theirs.
When I can’t even begin to know what’s going on in women’s hearts and lives, all I can think about is, “Please speak to them, Lord! I have nothing to say apart from what You give me! I don’t know what they need to hear; I don’t have a clue what they’re going through. Please, I’m desperate for you to use me as a voice to speak into the wilderness of their hearts and lives.”
In short…God has not given me the spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind. It’s really all about Him and if I remember that, I have nothing to fear but God.
5. Why should I be a speaker when there are so many other speakers?
Because God has called you to be a voice for His glory. Your voice is unique. Your giftedness is unique. Your backstory is unique. Your platform is unique. Your audience is unique.
We are not in competition, we are on the same team, trying to proclaim Christ and impact this world for the glory of God. The Lord uses each of us in different ways, in different places and at different times. We should be cheering each other on; we should refer each other when our schedule won’t allow us to fill an opportunity or when we know we aren’t the right person for the job.
This is about making Jesus known, not ourselves. So as you seek to speak, keep in mind that we’re all on the same team and when one Christian speaker is called to the plate and hits a home run, it’s a win for the whole team.
We need to be each other’s biggest cheerleaders, strongest support group and most committed prayer warriors!
6. How do you know what to charge?
Every speaker I know struggles with the whole ‘fee’ issue. Each one has different needs and different convictions. Each speaker is in a diffeent place in her journey and there is no one-size-fits-all fee.
There are issues to consider, such as…
* How much experience do you have?
* What are you convictions about fees?
* Where will you be speaking?
* What type of event is it?
* Do you have a staff, handouts, equipment or other expenses that need to be added into the equation?
* Do you do this full time?
* How long will it take you to prepare the message?
* Will you have to travel to the event? If so, what type of traveling expenses will you incur?
These are all part of the whole equation that needs to be considered in order to decide what type of fee you should charge.
If you’re just starting out, you may want to forego a set fee in order to get some experience and some name identification. If you’ve been speaking for years, then you will need to pray about what fee you should set, research what typical fees are in your region and then set them based on the above considerations.
Personally, I don’t set a fee for churches. Because of personal convictions and the fact that I don’t have a staff to pay or other expenses that need to be factored in, I speak for a love offering or the church’s budgeted fee for a speaker plus travel expenses.
Other events, such as conferences and other public events are a different story. In venues such as that, I have a fee.
7. Where can I go to learn more about how to become a better speaker and more about being a Christian speaker?
There are SO many resources out there to help you in your pursuit of following your God-given dream of becoming a Christian speaker or Bible teacher.
Below are just a few:
* Shelia Wray Gregoire’s site for speakers is fantabulous! Sheila offers training and great insight to the whole world of speaking!
* CLASS Services is a great source of training and growth.
* She Speaks Conferences put on by Proverbs 31 Ministries is a great annual learning event!
* Vonda Skelton’s Christian Communicator’s Conference is an amazing opportunity to have a more intimate opportunity to glean some personal training from some powerful speakers.
As you can see, there are so many resources to help you in your journey to becoming who you were created to be. And I believe with all my heart that you should pursue every avenue available. But at the end of the day, the doors only open if God, Himself, opens them.
So, sweet friend, work hard, depend on God and watch what He does in you, through you, for you and in your midst!
As William Carey once said (and this is one of my all-time favorite quotes!)
“Attempt great things for God; expect great things from God!”
Did any of this help you in your speaking journey? I’d love to hear about where you are in the process and if you have anything you’d like to share that may help others. I’d also be honored to pray for you as you seek God’s face and hand for your speaking ministry!
By the way… I’d love to partner with you to minister to the women at your next event! If you’d like to discuss the possibility of inviting me to speak, please pop over to this link and fill out the info and we will schedule a time to chat by phone.