This is a season of multi-tasking. With the release of my first book, Breaking Up with Perfect, next summer, I’ve added editing and marketing to my other tasks.One of the items on my to-do list for a long time has been to finish Michael Hyatt’s Platform, so I thought I’d do a series sharing how I’m processing his insights in relation to speaking ministry. How about buying the book or picking up your copy, and let’s read together!
In the first few chapters, Hyatt discusses the need to not just meet expectations with our product (our speaking) but to exceed expectations. He calls it “Baking in the WOW.”
Hyatt says, “Being successfull means becomeing the expert in recognizing wow when it shows up. More importantly, it means being able to recognize it when it is absent–and insisting that you ask yourself to deliver it.”
As a speaker, I’ve thought a lot about how to add WOW to both the experience an event planner has with me as well as at the event itself. Many of these ideas come from our Proverbs 31 team, and it’s been a pleasure implementing them.
For event planners…
1. Quick response– I make it a policy to get in touch with event planners within 24 hours of the confirmation of a contract from our office. You may be doing first contacts yourself, but the 24 hour rule is still a good one. Since the first conversation is pretty lengthy and detailed, I usually send an email first telling how excited I am about the event and scheduling our first phone meeting.
2. Listening & a partnership mentality– The thing I say to an event planner is, “Tell me about your event. I want to hear about your hopes and dreams for the outcome.” I used to launch in with my own set of questions, but I’ve learned that listening first is important. I want the event planner to know that I’m coming alongside, but I want to follow her leadership. I also want her to know that I’m a partner in implementing her vision, not just a speaker who is going to show up, take the stage, do her thing, and leave.
3. Availability–When we finish the first conversation, I double check to see if the event planner has my email and phone number. I tell her that I’m available to her any time and that she can communicate with me in the way that works best for her. You’d be shocked at how many stories I hear at this point about diva-ish behavior from speakers. It’s just tragic to think that any of us who call ourselves Christian speakers would behave in a way that Jesus never would.[Tweet “We’re servants with a gift for speaking, not speakers who are owed servanthood.”]
4. Individualization– I make short, very amateur (but enthusiastic!) videos with my iPhone for each event and send it to event planners. It tells a potential attendee how excited I am to be with her and how it won’t be the same if she’s not there. I know I love to see a face and hear a voice before I register for an event, so I hope my little videos help event planners with their registration. Planners can produce these for church services or use them “as-is” on their Facebook page.
5. Pre-Prayer– A couple of years ago, my precious friend Wendy Blight challenged me to begin praying for each attendee by name before an event. I can’t describe the powerful difference this practice has made in my events. I feel bonded to the individual women there before I even arrive, and I sense that God is working in the quiet time before an event to prepare each heart.
6. Arriving early– I remember an event at my church years ago when the speaker arrived long after her scheduled arrival, rushed in, insisted on prioritizing her book table, and missed the time praying with our group before she stood to speak. That made quite an impression on me. I never want to do that to a group of women. I tend toward being at events overly early. I want to make sure I have time to greet and meet all the leaders and set-up team when I arrive as well as being done setting up my book table and praying with the group before the first attendee arrives. Arrival/registration time for the attendees is when I float around and great women as they arrive–another way to start your speaking time with lots of faces smiling at you. 🙂
7. Fresh passion– Although I re-use messages, I almost always do some degree of rewriting for an event. I don’t take the message out of a folder, stick it in a notebook, and deliver it. I spend time with the scripture again, asking God to speak to my heart all over. Often I have new stories or fresh lessons to share in an old message. This practice allows me to hear God’s voice for each group even if I haven’t written a new message top to bottom. It also keeps me excited and engaged in my messages.
8. Availability– As long as I’m at the event location, I’m available to the women at the event to talk and/or pray. One event planner asked me, “Will you be available during the retreat? Will you eat with our women, or do you spend your extra time in your room?” I was stunned by the question. After I explained that I think the best ministry happens when I’m off stage, she told me about a speaker they’d had the year before who they only saw when she was on stage. After sessions, she’d retreat to her room, and she ate her meals in her room. Ugh! Y’all! We’re there to serve, serve, serve.
9. Appreciation– After each event, part of my wrap-up at home is to hand-write a thank you note to the event planner. I end by saying I’d love to serve them any way I can in the future. This allows me to open the door for referrals for other speakers too.
Creating WOW for an event planner means that you’ll often be asked back or that your name will be passed to her peers. Creating WOW for an event means that your words will be used to make a difference in someone’s life. But creating WOW isn’t just for everyone else.[Tweet “Being intentional about creating WOW creates an inner WOW that’s worth the effort.”]
I hope this series will be a place where your juices start flowing! Will you share? How do you create WOW for your event planners and events?