In this edition of the Writers' Roundtable, we sat our authors down to talk about how speaking engagements can impact their writing and engage readers. Our authors also shared a few best practices they have discovered along the way.
Five of our very talented authors/speakers were asked the following three questions:
- How have speaking engagements impacted your writing and/or how have speaking engagements benefited engagement with readers?
- Would you encourage other authors to seek speaking engagements?
- Are there best practices that you have discovered?
And here is what they said:
Deb Burma, author of Living a Chocolate Life, Raising Godly Girls, Beautiful Feet, Stepping Out, and Treasured, said:
- Speaking engagements have impacted my writing greatly in a number of ways. Much of my published material has grown and developed out of writings I first created for a speaking ministry. Sharing a message face-to-face, engaging with an audience, and communicating personally with women whom the Lord has placed in my path, I’ve been afforded the opportunity to learn about their concerns, their interests, and their life experiences, all of which have impacted the direction of my writing. Speaking engagements evoke immediate responses, prompt questions, and provide invaluable feedback. As a speaker, I find myself repeatedly considering these things: Is the topic/message resonating with the hearer? What can I change, add, or improve to communicate the love of Christ more clearly and effectively? How may God use my words and work to speak to the needs of the audience member and the reader alike?
After attending an event, women have told me that they now hear my voice as they read. The face-to-face connection has also served to establish familiarity and trust, and they may be more likely to take a further look at what I have to say, now through my writing. One woman told me she felt as though I was sitting in her living room sharing the love of Christ with her one-to-one as she worked through her Bible study. Every interaction may encourage a potential reader to become an actual reader!
- I would absolutely encourage other writers to seek speaking engagements! As the Lord leads each author down unique and different writing paths, at the same time, He gives us a shared passion for communicating the Gospel as we put pen to paper. We each have a message to share, and how exciting to consider that message may be shared by spoken words as well! We trust that as God opens doors for speaking opportunities, He will also equip each and every author to speak of that which they write! Speaking has furthered my desire to write; it has helped fine-tune the messages I share in print; it has given faces to at least a fraction of those who will be impacted by my words, all to the glory of God.
- I cannot overstate the need for practice and preparation, continually honing my speaking and writing skills, and taking each detail to the Lord in prayer. All this said, I am continually surprised by “divine interruptions” and on-the-spot questions or interactions just prior to speaking that may impact some of my content as I speak to listeners’ immediate needs. I recognize, too, that my next writing will likely be impacted by these very interactions.
Brad Alles, author of Life’s Big Questions, God’s Big Answers and Starting at the End, said:
- The speaking engagements offer confirmation that the books that I wrote were beneficial and provide me with new insight into the needs of the audience. They tell me what people need for ministry in this post-Christian culture.
- They are a great way to encourage the Body of Christ by offering new information and allowing them to minister to you!
- Put the basics into everything. Don’t assume in this day and age that people will understand everything. And after you have established that baseline, move on from there!
Donna Pyle, author of Without This Ring: Surviving Divorce, The God of All Comfort, and Quenched: Christ’s Living Water for a Thirsty Soul, said:
- An author who serves as a speaker truly engages the best of both worlds. In many instances, God orchestrates meeting a new person at events with a powerful story whom I will later ask to share his or her story in a current writing project. Their incredible stories often change the trajectory of a given book’s chapter, giving it a much more powerful, personal impact on readers. Then when the book releases, the people who shared their stories feel a vested interest in its success to tell others about it.
- 100 PERCENT YES. By nature, most writers are introverts. However, when we interact more with people, those experiences inform future writing perspectives and topics. Also, a speaker benefits from instant feedback regarding a given topic. You can tell when God is connecting the people with the material, and it’s a powerful inspiration and encouragement for me to keep on keeping on when it’s just me and the laptop later at home.
- Know your audience and tailor your material to them. It’s an entirely different approach when I speak with a group of teens versus women my age. And above all, I respect the platform that God has given me by being prepared. Those in the audience could have spent their time anywhere, but they chose to spend it listening to me. Their time is valuable, and I want to honor that gift as a privilege, not a given.
Rev. Tim Carter, author of The Executioner’s Redemption, said:
- Speaking engagements have impacted my writing by inspiring me to get better at following some writing counsel I was given—to help readers get to seriously know me through my written words. Feedback at speaking engagements has helped me understand where I am succeeding and where I am failing at that writing skill. I have found that readers really do get into our writing more when they are enabled to connect with the author from the personal disclosure we supply. They also give me the blessing of having a very real relationship with the readers. A transparent relationship with readers provides very helpful encouragement for both writer and reader. As in every real relationship, readers feel totally blessed to be able to be vulnerable with the speaker and share deep, personal challenges or wounds. It makes any and all difficulties of writing worth it all when a writer discovers that God has comforted a struggling or wounded brother or sister through our writing.
- I would definitely encourage authors to seek speaking engagements. I have discovered that most authors are like me and need to be cautious about the balance of different responsibilities on our calendar, but I am always very thankful for the blessings afforded at every speaking engagement, even when I have stretched myself quite thin.
- The number one best practice I have discovered is a lot of prayer in the weeks of preparation and a lot more prayer in the hours and moments before speaking. The more prayer and answered prayer, the more God blesses both me and my audience.
And finally we have Rev. A. Trevor Sutton, author of Being Lutheran and Why Should I Trust the Bible?
- It helps me to think through something by talking about it with others. The process of planning and preparing, speaking and hearing, discussing and conversing with others gives me a much deeper understanding of a particular topic. Speaking engagements allow me to hone my knowledge because it is auditory rather than simply writing words on a page. Also, it is a great joy to have a personal conversation with a reader. I love it when a reader shares his or her thoughts and reflections on my writing. The only problem is that I often find myself thinking, “Why didn’t I think of that?!?”
- I would encourage other authors to explore speaking engagements as much as life and other responsibilities allow. It is a powerful way to anchor your writing in real, lived experiences. Rather than writing to a nameless and faceless audience, writers can actually address specific readers and craft their writing to fit these real people.
- Prepare early. Time is your best friend when it comes to preparing for speaking engagements. I often start preparing for a presentation months in advance and then allow for some weeks in which I do not work on it at all. This allows for new ideas and fresh insights to come to me.