I love to travel and speak at events. I don’t do it for the money (all my honoraria go directly to DG). I do it to meet people, edify souls, encourage readers, and hear life-change stories from APJ listeners. But time restraints limit my travel, so I must choose speaking engagements carefully.
Here are a few thoughts to keep in mind.
On a recent trip to a Christian college, I spoke twice, once to students (in a chapel) and then once to faculty and staff (in a forum and Q&A). That’s my limit now, speaking twice (30–45 minute sessions), plus one Q&A.
Both sessions went well because they were focused, and that’s the main takeaway I want to apply to all future events. Sometimes I get assigned a biblical text, and I love that. But most of my initial speaking requests are topical and they come to me too broadly defined and general. Like: “Come talk about technology.” Or “Come speak for 45 minutes on 12 ways our phones are changing us.” Well, in six hours I can do that, but not in 45 minutes. Similarly, I don’t have a file cabinet of sermon manuscripts I can grab. Each message is written from scratch (by preference).
At the recent college event, each message answered one challenge, a dilemma felt acutely by each audience. The topics were targeted enough to fit inside my time allotment, and served the needs of an audience I had never met. This framing, given to me by the host, focused my writing and weighed my success at the end.
So in making the request, here’s the main question I need answered, to help me understand what I would bring to your event:
If I succeed, what will I have addressed in each session, what dilemma or question will have gotten sorted out?
Answering seven sub-questions will further help define my role for each session at your event:
- What’s the broad aim of your event?
- What have I written that resonates with your vision for each session of mine?
- Who is my audience?
- What struggle do they face?
- Why will this topic matter to them?
- How long is each session? (I speak at 116 wpm, so this determines manuscript length.)
- Why am I the best-qualified person to address this audience with this challenge?
These questions will help me focus my time investment and serve your audience as strategically as possible. This is another way to say that I’m most attracted to conferences that are strategically planned and to hosts who are familiar with my gifts and my works, not just my name.
If that is you, my 2022 just filled up. But if you’re a conference host planning out 2023 or 2024 dates, email me ideas (crede DOT ut DOT intelligas AT mac DOT com). And I can get those requests sent along to the committee that makes the final decisions on my speaking schedule.
I look forward to seeing you in person!