Preaching Articles

My former boss Brad Lomenick blogged today about how speakers get booked at Catalyst. Great post. This happened to be the day I sent a lesson to the participants of Dream Year Books about how to land speaking engagements.

Here's my version:

1. Become known for stark, compelling ideas. 
Rob Bell launched his speaking career by teaching through the book of Leviticus. Nancy Duarte masters the art of presentations. Steven Pressfield has become known for writing about the Resistance. Timothy Ferris advocates a four-hour work week. What is the one stark, compelling idea for which you can be known? 

2. Work on improving your speaking ability.  
Organizers book speakers for ideas. Speaking ability is secondary. But if you're going to be a presenter, make sure you're good at it. Don't just rest on your experience. Actively seek out ways to improve your abilities. Take a speaking course. Read books. Watch famous speeches. Practice your talks. Review your performance on film. Get feedback from others. 

3. Treat the organizer as a client.  
I know logic says that you're the client. But if you walk-in with a set of demands, you'll never get invited back. And word-of-mouth works both ways. If you surprise the organizer with a friendly, flexible and helpful relationship, you'll see more speaking opportunities unfold. Write a thank-you note afterward. Respect the allotted speaking time. Spend time with their team. 

4. Have someone else nominate you.  
Whenever a speaker contacts me directly, it feels desperate. I have never booked anyone who contacted me to nominate themselves. On the other hand, I've found almost all of my speakers by listening to trusted sources who nominated others. Recruit a few friends to share your availability with organizers they know.

5. Limit the language of your availability.  
On your website, don't be too flagrant with your availability. State that you're "accepting two or three engagements in the fall" regardless of how many you'd like to book and provide an email address to contact you. No one wants to book a desperate speaker who is always available. Organizers want to feel like they're getting a limited edition. 

6. Carry yourself with the dignity of the event.  
Make sure your tweets and posts uphold the dignity of the speaking engagements you desire. Tweeting minute-by-minute commentary of television's "The Walking Dead" isn't going to land you on The Moody Conference stage. Slamming another pastor on Facebook will exempt you from Catalyst. Instagramming photos of your dinner at Applebees is okay.

7. Be a friend to the organization.  
Retweet their posts. Exchange some fun banter on their blog. Send an encouraging note to the organizer. Share a copy of your book through another friend. Don't ask to speak, let them ask you. But without selling yourself, be someone who is a friend to the organization. It helps organizers to know that you think well of them before they invite you. 

8. Determine what will undermine your speaking career.  
Decide whether you'll speak at break-outs. How much you'll accept for a speaking fee. Minimum crowd size. If you let other people determine these factors, your value will rest in their hands. Make a list of the factors that must be in place for you to accept an engagement because everything communicates.

Ben Arment helps people launch great things. He’s the founder of Dream Year, The Whiteboard Sessions, and STORY in Chicago, and he also wrote a book called Church in the Making. He and his wife Ainsley live in Virginia Beach and have three cowboys, Wyatt, Dylan & Cody.

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Talk about it...

Tony Myles

commented on Nov 23, 2015

Or... instead of trying to say something and get noticed for, become someone who has something to say whether or not anyone is looking.

Rev. John

commented on Nov 23, 2015

LOL. American commercialization of the gospel at its best! And this is supposed to help build the Kingdom? Why not focus on living like Christ whether the world invites us or not?!

Mike Warren

commented on Nov 23, 2015

Thanks. Those with something to say can use some practical advice on how to get their message heard.

Louis Johnson

commented on Nov 24, 2015

"On your website, don't be too flagrant with your availability. State that you're 'accepting two or three engagements in the fall' regardless of how many you'd like to book..." In other words, lie. This is one of the most shameful pieces of advice I've ever seen offered in a purportedly Christian article.

Charlie Carroll

commented on Nov 24, 2015

Come on guys he is not talking about preaching. He is talking about speaking engagements. I am a preacher but if I wanted to speak more for what ever reason I would probably take some of this advice. why do we feel like we have to "shoot down an idea " simply because we don't get it. I guess you guys might be like me nobody is going to pay for your "speaking ability" anyway. Blessings brothers and ease up don't be so harsh to others. I might not agree with you but nobody said I had to. but I do have to do unto others as I would have them do unto me.

Louis Johnson

commented on Nov 24, 2015

With all due respect, I don't see how the fact that the writer is not talking about preaching, but public speaking in general, has anything to do with it. We Christians are to live lives of integrity, and to speak truth (something which as a preacher yourself, I am sure you have probably addressed from the pulpit). The writer is advising us to mislead, if by being misleading we can increase our visibility as public speakers (to say nothing of the thickness of our wallets).

Terry Phillips

commented on Nov 24, 2015

There's a little church not far from where I live (in the UK) which has this motto over the door: Esse quam videre, which, I understand, to mean, roughly, To be rather than to seem to be. Isn't that a part of being a Christian? Striving towards honesty in all things? I don't think I need to quote Bible texts in support of this.

Louis Johnson

commented on Nov 24, 2015

This is excellent, and excellently stated. Thank you, sir.

Joe Soria

commented on Aug 14, 2019

I've been thinking lately that the church is suffering for pastors. Lot's of people want to speak, but the church needs pastors and teachers. He used Rob Bell as an example, and we now see where Rob Bell is. He's a speaker. The American Church is in trouble. We need more than pastors who are looking to be speakers rather than shepherding their sheep very well because we all know that is a full time job.

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