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Jan 01

Public Speaking Opportunities

Posted by: Steve Marr

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Public speaking is an important opportunity for many to demonstrate leadership, professional credentials, and connect with potential clients or customers. Not every speaking invitation is a good opportunity. I evaluate each opportunity to determine what the Lord would have me do. James wrote, “Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. Instead, you ought to say, ‘If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that.’” (James 4:14-15, NIV) The key is to determine the Lord’s will.

I have learned through experience that not every opportunity that looks great should be accepted, and some that look like I should decline may present excellent ministry opportunities. To determine which present the best opportunities I ask a number of questions, gather information, and ask the Lord for guidance before accepting or declining.

First, I ask what the host about speaking topic and length. I need to determine if I have existing content I can use or if I need to create new or modify existing content.  If I need new content, do I have the 2-3 days required for additional preparation?  I also have to decide if I need to create a PowerPoint or hand out notes.  I ask myself if the venue plays to my strengths.  For example, I connect better in an interactive session rather than a lecture situation. I inquire about audience size and makeup.  Understanding the audience make up in critical. I have declined invitations from retired business groups because my focus is on those in business now. My target audience is the business owner of small to medium sized businesses.  Generally, I don’t accept invitations from men’s groups unless there is a large business makeup of the group. I believe others are better positioned to speak to a more general church men’s audience.

I also need to evaluate the expected outcomes of the event. Can I relate to the audience after the event or will I be able to develop contacts for consulting?

I ask if I can sell my books at the speaking event.  I find out if there ways they can promote them through their event advertising.  I find out if they can provide a table and someone to assist me at the table. With good support, book sales can double what they would be if I just speak and depart.

I review my calendar and the impact of this potential opportunity. Adding a three-day commitment including travel may be difficult in an already packed month.  I also need to assess the impact with my team. If I need technical help, is my technical assistant available?

Finances are part of the decision. Is a speaking fee offered and is travel covered? Finances are a factor even when they are not the determining factor. I have passed on a large fee event at times while accepting other opportunities at no charge.

Another factor to consider is the relationship with the person asking me to speak. I give more weight to accept a request from someone who has assisted me in the past because I have an ongoing relationship with the person or organization.

Local opportunities, especially those that require a short drive, use existing material, and require limited support from others.  Often I can accept them without compromising other work.

I will place more weight on opportunities to share the Gospel and my testimony.  These intersect my most important mission.

When you are invited to speak, evaluate all aspects and count the cost.  As the Lord said, "Suppose one of you wants to build a tower. Will he not first sit down and estimate the cost to see if he has enough money to complete it? (Luke 14:18, NIV) Unless we count the cost, understand the ministry opportunity, and seek the Lord’s will; we are not able to make the right decision that the Lord will bless.


Steve Marr, Your Christian Business Coach 

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