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Monday, July 23, 2012

Tips for Camp and Conference Speakers

I just returned from speaking at a camp in Iowa. Over three days I spoke six times. I’m exhausted but rejuvenated. Go figure. As I reflect on this most recent ministry adventure and previous speaking opportunities at camps and conferences, there are several insights I wanted to get “on paper” while they’re fresh in my head. I am blogging my thoughts to initiate a conversation with other camp/conference speakers, especially those with way more experience at this sort of thing than I have.

·         Pace yourself with cat-naps: The amount of energy it takes to deliver a passionate message to people expecting a life-giving word from God through you is substantial. If you speak more than once each day, the exhaustion is even more severe. A 15-30 minute nap once or twice each day, especially an hour or two before you speak, can replenish your energy reserves.  

·         Take opportunities to minister outside of the speaking events: Public speaking, though exhilarating, is energy-draining and gut-wrenching. However, despite the fatigue, look for the chance to counsel and pray with people outside of the speaking events. Your most significant ministry impact may occur in those one-on-one meetings.  
·         Take your family with you: Even though your primary ministry will be to those who attend the event, perhaps you can invite your family along for the adventure. Of course, you cannot do every activity with your family that they would like for you to do because of the time you will need to counsel and pray with people, as well as to prepare for speaking. It’s important to communicate to your family your time limits and primary focus, but taking them with you allows for ministry memories and a mini-vacation of sorts.

·         Internalize the message early in the day: Most preachers have their own particular ritual for internalizing the message for delivery. If you don’t, try waking up an hour or two before breakfast and begin internalization early. This will give the message more time to simmer and, during delivery, come out of the speaker fully cooked.

·         Express public appreciation to the group and her leaders: Sometimes the camp/conference speaker comes across as an arrogant expert, God’s gift to the unclean masses. Humility goes a long way in getting a hearing and receiving a future invitation. One of the ways the speaker can express humility in an authentic way is to appreciate the group and her leaders with a few thoughtful sentences beyond the typical “thank you,” “you’re a great crowd,” and “what a good looking bunch.”  

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