First Steps For Christians Speaking In Public
You have a ministry or a business you know you’re called to work in. You’re already familiar with the flock that God has given to you. You have a good idea of their pain points and how you can best serve them.
But you’re looking for ways to expand your platform so that you can minister to even more people. You’ve heard that speaking in public is one way to do this, but you’re unsure what the benefits are or even how to get started. Let’s start by looking at how speaking helps your ministry or business…
How Speaking In Public Can Grow Your Ministry
David ran a ministry and business that helped men become better husbands and fathers. He loved blogging and doing Facebook Lives. But his ministry wasn’t expanding as quickly as he wanted it to. He knew many Christian men could benefit from his message—if only he knew how to reach them.
A friend suggested that David try public speaking and encouraged him to experiment with the idea. David was intrigued, but he wanted to know more about speaking in public and how it could grow his ministry. Here are a few of the benefits of speaking in public that David’s friend shared with him…
Speaking In Public Creates an Impact
There’s only so much impact you can have from a screen. Even with video, your message can sometimes be lost among many distractions. That’s because your audience isn’t just watching you when they see a video. They might also be surfing Facebook, chatting with a loved one, and texting a friend all at the same time.
But when you are speaking in public at an event, your audience is more likely to give you their full attention. This means that your impact is more significant because your flock has the chance to truly absorb your words and let them take root.
Speaking In Public Gets the Word Out
Another benefit of speaking in public is the boosted visibility for your ministry. Not only will the people attending the conference or event have a chance to see you, but so will others, even if they never attend.
The event organizer will have handouts, flyers, and other promotional material that they share online and offline. So even if someone doesn’t show up, they may still hear your name and remember you as the speaker from that conference.
You might not think that getting the word out about your ministry is a big deal but consider this: the more people who know about it, the more people you can serve and shepherd. This is about growing numbers—it’s about ministering to your flock.
Speaking In Public Grows Your Network
The more you speak, the more you’ll get a chance to meet other speakers and event coordinators. As you begin to make friends, your circle of influence and impact will grow.
Some ministry leaders have made life-changing contacts by getting to know other event leaders, topic experts, and speakers. If you see someone you might enjoy connecting with, don’t be afraid to go up and say, “Hello!” You never know where the encounter may lead!
Speaking in public has the potential to grow your ministry in exciting new ways. It’s a wonderful tool for increasing your Kingdom impact and serving your flock!
Define the Message God Has Given You
Cheryl had a ministry that helped women with chronic illnesses. She loved serving her flock and felt led to speak to her audience in person. But she wasn’t sure how to go about it. A wise mentor encouraged Cheryl to first focus on defining her message.
Every speaker needs a keystone message. But building this message can be tricky. Where do you start? What do you say? How much should you talk about yourself? These are important questions, and here are a few answers for you.
Determine Your Audience
Before you can begin crafting a message that connects with your flock, you need to clarify who you serve. Who is it that you’re passionate about reaching? Who is your ministry for?
For Cheryl, she knew her audience was mainly women in their twenties to fifties. But she narrowed it down even more by focusing on mothers with chronic illnesses. When Cheryl started looking for events where she could speak, she focused on those catered to her community (busy mothers).
Focus on the Hurts
The next step in defining your message is focusing on the hurts your flock faces. Ask God for wisdom and make a list of the top 10-20 problems that your community regularly brings up to you. This may be a mix of big and small issues.
Cheryl’s flock often faced issues with low energy, a lack of understanding from relatives, feeling inferior to healthy moms, dealing with disappointment from their kids and spouses, and struggling to say “no” when they needed rest.
Bandage Their Wounds
Now that you’ve had a chance to consider what hurts plague your community think about how you can offer bandages for these wounded places. Chances are, you’re already offering the answers, even if you don’t realize it.
Maybe your flock struggles with finding a balance between being a good mom and taking care of themselves. But you have a short 7-day devotional journal on this very topic. You can mention this book in your presentation or use its content to inspire your speech.
Show Them Healing
As you offer bandages, share examples of healing, so your flock knows that what you’re sharing will work for them. Using the above example, you’d want to share the story of a woman who used your devotional journal to set new priorities and create healthy boundaries that give her energy instead of sapping it.
Keep in mind that healing comes in many forms. Your flock might experience improved relationships, a deeper understanding of who Jesus is, more peace, or greater confidence in their identity as God’s beloved child.
Share What Makes Your Ministry Different
At this point, your flock is excited. They understand that healing is possible and that God longs to transform their lives so they can live free. Now, you want to show them what sets your ministry apart.
Cheryl knew other ministries that served chronically ill moms, but she had grown an active Facebook community where mothers could find support and advice from each other in a judgment-free zone. This made her stand out in her flock’s minds and got their attention.
Expect Many Ideas
As you work through the steps above, you’ll get many ideas about what you can speak on. Be sure to keep a notebook handy, so you can write down your thoughts and use them as you craft your speech.
Should Christians Be Paid to Speak?
Neal wanted to get started speaking in public. But the more he read about the subject; the more overwhelmed he became. He wasn’t sure where to begin looking for speaking opportunities, and he didn’t know if he wanted to speak for free or ask for a fee.
If you feel like Neal does—you have a desire to speak—but you don’t know what to expect, here are a few things to keep in mind…
Speaking for Free Gets You Experience
There are always event coordinators and ministry leaders in need of speakers. Sometimes, these leaders don’t have much of a budget, so most of the cash goes to feed the attendees and provide paper goods (like tissue). That doesn’t leave much to pay speaking fees.
However, this can be an advantage if you’re a new speaker. There’s less competition to get free speaking opportunities, and ministries will be more forgiving if you mess something up. After all, they understand that you’re still finding your way.
Another advantage of speaking for free is that it builds your confidence while getting the word out about your ministry. Most people don’t become confident speaking in public until they’ve done it a few dozen times. You can speed up this growth process by speaking at multiple events in a few weeks or a few months.
Speaking for Pay Is Honorable
For some, speaking isn’t just a hobby. It’s how they keep food on the table and afford to clothe their families. Fees can range anywhere from $100-10,000+ depending on the conference budget, your experience level, the topic you’re presenting on, and the complexity of your talk.
Professional speakers often have multiple income streams like additional products or services. They may sell these items at conferences and events to offset some of their costs and keep their ministries thriving.
Remember that there is no shame in being a paid speaker. In 1 Timothy 5, Paul explains this truth.
18“For the Scripture says, “You must not muzzle an ox to keep it from eating as it treads out the grain." And in another place, “Those who work deserve their pay!” (1 Timothy 5:18)
Sometimes, speakers run their ministries on a very tight budget and use their speaking fees to enable them to continue ministering to those who God has entrusted them with.
Speaking for Perks Is an Option Too
Remember that you don’t have to choose between speaking just for free or for profit. Some speakers do it for the perks. The event host typically pays for these perks.
For example, you’ve always wanted to meet with another pastor you regard as a mentor, and a conference coordinator contacts you. They don’t have the budget to pay for your speech, but they are willing to pay for your travel expenses to a conference where you will have a chance to meet this pastor.
Of course, the perks an event host can offer will differ. Some may be willing to pay for your meals, flight, or hotel stay. It all depends on their budget and what you’re willing to ask for.
When you first start speaking in public, it’s wise to begin with free or perks-based events. Then if you find you enjoy speaking and feel led to do it, consider charging a fee in exchange for your time.
7 Simple Ways to Find Speaking Opportunities for Your Ministry
When Cassie wanted to start speaking in public, she was excited. She was looking forward to connecting with her flock, but she wasn’t sure where to find those elusive first speaking opportunities. A friend recommended she start by doing some of these things…
1. Pray Over It
Start by asking God to open the right doors for you. God knows your heart and which opportunities would best fit you. Ask Him to show you who to contact and which event coordinators to reach out to.
2. Ask Around
Personal and professional connections are the best way to build awareness. Let your family, friends, and colleagues know that you’re looking to become a public speaker. They may know of an event host in need right now.
If you’re already part of a faith-based community or church, let the ministry leaders know that you’re interested in speaking. The next time there is a local event, they might just reach out to you.
3. Put It Online
If you feel led to speak, you should embrace that calling with boldness. Add the word “speaker” to your biography on your website and your social media profiles. If space allows, be specific. For example, you might say, “I’m a speaker on business topics for Christian entrepreneurs,” or “I speak to Christian women on topics like family health and self-care.”
4. Scan Local Events
Since you’re new, you’ll want to start locally. This means you won’t have the stress or expense of travel. You can find local events easily using services like Facebook Events, Meetup, and Eventbrite.
Keep in mind that one event can lead to the next. All it takes is one ministry leader inviting you to speak, and you can get more speaking opportunities from there.
5. Reach Out
Another thing new speakers can do is volunteer. Offer to speak to classes, both at schools and colleges. Reach out and share how you believe you can have an impact.
You may also want to see if your local libraries or community centers are looking for someone to lead a brief four or six-week class on a topic you’re passionate about that relates to your ministry. Showing up weekly is a wonderful way to build up your speaking experience.
6. Create a Speaker Sheet
You never know when someone might want to learn more about your speaking services. So go ahead and create a speaker sheet. This should be a one-page document highlighting your bio and the topics you speak on. Keep it short and make it attractive. If you don’t have any design skills, consider creating it in Canva and using one of their templates.
Kelly McCausey, a Christian business coach, has a course called One Sheet Project that teaches her students how to create this vital resource.
You also want to be ready to share outlines of your topic with event hosts when they ask for more information. You might want to prepare your presentation in PowerPoint so a conference coordinator can take a look if they have questions.
7. Go Live
Get video of yourself speaking as soon as possible. Livestreaming online video is a good option if you've had no speaking opportunities yet.
While you should strive to make this video as nice as possible with good lighting and sound, remember that hosts aren’t expecting a professional studio look. They know the video won’t be polished to perfection.
Ministry leaders and event hosts just need to see that you're comfortable and engaging. They want to know that you can connect with their flock and minister to them.
Don’t Get Discouraged
Finding speaking opportunities might seem like a difficult task at first. But focus on doing the steps above. The more you take risks and put yourself out there, the more likely you will discover an opportunity that’s just right for you.
What Christian Speakers Should Put on Their Media Pages
Sasha was asked to speak at a local church. She happily said, “Yes!” But when she saw the promotional flyer for the event, she cringed. The ministry leader had used an old photo of her that was low-resolution. It distorted and looked terrible. The bio that the coordinator had included was horribly out of date, too.
Things like this happen when Christian speakers don’t keep their information updated. Every Christian looking for speaking opportunities should have a media page on their website. Here’s what to include on yours…
You want both a short biography (2-3 paragraphs) and a longer one (4-5 paragraphs). Ideally, you want to mention your mission statement, what you focus on, and any important credentials.
For example, if you’ve written a book that became a New York Times Best-Seller, your bio should include that information. If you speak at conferences for marriage therapists, mention that you’ve been a licensed marriage counselor for the past two decades.
These should be full-resolution photos that would look good if printed in a magazine. You need a minimum of 2-3 headshots that you feel confident about and wouldn’t mind seeing plastered everywhere.
Keep in mind that you may need several headshots for different flocks. For example, you might speak at tech conferences for Christian entrepreneurs and parenting events for special-needs families.
You would want to have some headshots featuring you at work or on your laptop. But you’d also want a second set of images that show you relaxed and smiling at home with your kids.
An Audio (or Video) Clip
Your media page might be the first time an event coordinator has heard of you. You want their first impression to be that you’re capable and professional. So if you have some clips where you’re speaking in public, be sure to add them here.
You only need 1-2 videos or audio files, and they can be short (think less than five minutes). Make sure this content plays in the browser, as ministry leaders may not want to download your big files.
Your Contact Information
Finally, you want to make it easy for hosts to book you. That means including relevant contact information on your media page. An email address is best for this task. If you’re worried about spam, try a special email like firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com.
You may also want to add a contact number here as well. This helps event coordinators and ministry leaders who want to talk with you on the phone to get a feel for your personality. If you don’t have a dedicated phone line for this, try getting a Google Voice number. They’re free, and they can be forwarded to your regular cellphone.
Designing your media page doesn’t have to be complicated. Just make sure to include the information listed above. Remember that you can always update this page later as your ministry grows or your flock changes.
Becoming a Christian Speaker
Being a Christian speaker is an exciting calling. You have the opportunity to share more about your ministry, serve your flock, and get to network with other Christian leaders and entrepreneurs.
If you think that God is leading you in this direction, pray over it carefully. Ask those you trust to pray for you as well. Then watch as God opens the doors to speaking opportunities all around you!
Grace and peace,