I can’t even describe how much I love my job coaching speakers with Next Step Speaker Services. My greatest joy is partnering with women who long to be used to grow God’s Kingdom. My clients inspire me, teach ME and encourage me as I hear their messages and passions. In the next couple of weeks, I’d like for you to hear from a couple of clients I’ve worked with this year.
This week I’d like to introduce you to my former client and now friend, Claudine Snyder. She was such an incredible student that I asked her to share her journey with you. Please make her welcome this week! ~Amy
1. What made you decide to use Next Step Speaker Services ?
I am the co-planner of my church’s annual women’s retreat. Our retreat was scheduled for October 2012. In January 2012 we began our search for a speaker. I had great plans for the Lord. J I just knew He would come through with a speaker for the topic of “Rediscovering the Power of the Gospel” to challenge and encourage our ladies for His glory. I inquired of several speakers over the course of six months, none of which were able to speak at our event. By the end of June my co planner and I grew more and more concerned (frantic) that we weren’t going to find the right speaker for our topic – and time was dwindling. In late June my co-planner finally asked me, “Is there a speaker out there who is as passionate and committed to this topic as you are?” Not what I wanted to hear – or talk about. She asked me if I ever thought about speaking. “Constantly” I replied, but the thought of speaking about God’s word unnerved me. She went on to ask me to pray about speaking. I said I would. I lied. I didn’t want to pray about it. I didn’t want to hear the answer, so I never asked the question. I had been running from this idea for years. The weight of speaking God’s word overwhelmed me and I was scared, just like Moses. I could rattle off all the reasons why I shouldn’t speak like a child reciting the alphabet. It took hours of conversing with my co-planner to convince me just to pray about speaking and “consider” it. I felt like the Lord was leading me to the cliff’s edge only to throw me off it.
I called her July 4th and agreed to speak. My mind screamed at me, “What have you done? This is crazy.” I had just committed to do something I wasn’t capable of. I had just committed to speak three times over the course of 24 hours and the conference was only three months away. I had no idea how to do this. What I did know was that there is a method to speaking; a process, an art, a skill. My only hope was that God would somehow prepare me. I prayed constantly, “Send someone to help me.”
Then I remembered Next Step Speaker Services.
2. What service did you contract for and what did you expect?
I purchased NSSS message development service. Honestly, I did not expect what I actually got. I assumed I would write out what I wanted to say and NSSS would edit, tweak, make a few suggestions about the message. I assumed Amy would massage what I wrote. I assumed wrong.
3. How were the services you received different from what you expected?
Session one was unexpected. I thought we would dive right into the message. We dove right into me. What is my passion? Where is my niche in speaking for the Lord? Is there one area that you feel led to speak on? These questions formulated my homework after the first session. I was to create a tagline that describes my speaking passion. I’ll reap the benefits of this for the rest of my speaking opportunities. Who knew? Not me. But Amy did.
The rest of the sessions were focused on message development. I submitted a message for the first out of three talks. Amy looked at my message and said, “You have a book here. Lets start with an idea. ONE idea.” I had twenty. Systematically and methodically, Amy dissembled my message and little by little we put it back together using the teaching she provided. The homework she gave was challenging, thought provoking, and worthwhile. One assignment was to read a particular book on “how to” prepare a message. Eye opening. I began to see the common pitfalls of my own writing.
Word by word, sentence by sentence, paragraph by paragraph, I re-assembled what she broke down. It was as if Amy put her hand over mine and as I held a “paintbrush”, we stroked the canvas together. Together we painted a picture. By the time the services were up, I held the paintbrush all by myself and knew how to paint a picture. Any picture. My picture. All I had to do now was show the picture to the audience. My first picture was stunning – the gospel.
By the time we were finished, my original message was gone. My new message didn’t even resemble what I originally wrote. My new message had a powerful introduction and one teaching truth woven throughout the body and conclusion.
4. How did your event go? Did you feel confident about your messages and how your audience received them?
This was my first time speaking. Ever. I expected to be pelted with the free pens we handed out. J When I got up to the podium, I was nervous but prepared. The message was solid. That gave me confidence. The cohesiveness of one forty-five minute message flowed easily and held their attention. I literally knew what I was going to say throughout my time starting with my first few words. By far the most difficult part of speaking is the first 5 minutes. Prior to using NSSS, I would have begun with a very poor opening. Now, right out of the gate, I had a solid opening that set me at ease. This made a huge difference in my delivery.
Amy prepped me to become so familiar with the message that it just came out of me. Yes, I used my notes. No I did not read them. Huge victory for me and I am sure the audience appreciated it too.
Amazingly, written and verbal feedback from the attenders was excellent. I was shocked. I do not credit myself. God uses His people to equip His people. The Holy Spirit clearly was at work that weekend accomplishing His plans through His people. Such was the case with my messages. God provided a way for me to learn some basic but crucial lessons about the art of message development. Yes, it is an art. Yes, some people are naturals; the rest of us need teaching and have to work at it.
5. What was the most valuable part of working with Next Step Speaker Services?
One on one teaching, hands down that was the most valuable aspect of this service. It might shock the reader to learn I had already been to a She Speaks conference just two years ago. The conference was eye opening. I learned. I participated in a speaker eval group. I took notes. I bought the CD’s!!!! Nevertheless, there is nothing comparable to someone “holding your hand” as you “paint” to show you how to stroke the canvas.
It’s a lesson that pays dividends endlessly. Endlessly.
6. Why Choose NSSS?:
For those called to speak for the Lord there is a tremendous responsibility (and burden) to articulate God’s word rightly, responsibly and proficiently. It is an enormous calling. Yet, with that responsibility (and burden) comes the opportunity to be used by God for His plans and His purposes. That endeavor is worth all the effort, cost and sacrifice required to magnify our King.
Pursue excellence, shun mediocrity and watch the Lord move in and through you.
“Whether, then, you eat or drink or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.”
1 Cor 10:31,
Thank you so much for sharing, Claudine! I also want to let you know that our next group conference call has been rescheduled. Karen Ehman will teach “Writing a Bang-Up Book Proposal” on Thursday, February 7th. Please click here for all the details and to register.