The Importance of Both Writing and Speaking is discussed in Shona Neff's (www.StepUPWritingandSpeaking.com) interview with Elaine W. Miller. Thanks for the interview, Shona and StepUP Writing and Speaking
Shona Neff recently had the pleasure of interviewing Elaine W. Miller. She provides some wonderful and helpful information for aspiring writers and speakers. She has generously provided a CD recording of a workshop she led on the topic of writers becoming speakers. If you'd like to have your name entered in this free drawing, leave a comment on this post before Sunday, September 19, 2010, by 10:00pm EST. The recipient will be announced the following Monday morning, September 20.
Shona: When Shonda and I give presentations and coach clients, we emphasize how important it is for Christian communicators to both write and speak. People who feel more comfortable speaking try to avoid writing. And, sometimes gifted writers would rather share their message only through the pages of a book or magazine rather than stand on the stage with all eyes on them.
Tell us your story, and why you started teaching workshops on writers becoming speakers.
Elaine: Years ago I pondered the question, “Are you a writer who speaks or a speaker who writes?” I believe we need to be both because as writers, we will be asked to speak. Writers have tales to tell or we wouldn’t write. No one else knows our stories, and we need to share them on the written page as well as on a stage.
Being a writer or a speaker was not on my life’s “to do” list. But God had other plans. Over 25 years ago, to my surprise and horror, I received my first speaking invitation. I had never spoken in public and rarely voiced my opinion in private. But there I was behind a podium with 660 eyes looking at me. My mother-in-law encouraged me with, “Remember, everyone out there loves you.” I cheered myself on by realizing, most of the women listening to me are very glad I am the speaker and they are not. I spoke and, to my surprise, I didn’t die nor did anyone else. In fact, it went well, and doors opened to other invitations to speak.
In 2005 my first book, Splashes of Serenity: Bathtime Reflections for Drained Moms was published. When you become an author, some people consider you an authority. I remember my first radio interview. I was introduced as “an authority on parenting.” I gasped and replied, “I am not an authority on anything, but I know Someone Who is, and He’s written a Book. The Bible is the only authority.” The point is, whether you like it or not, becoming an author opens wide the speaking doors. You are considered an authority, or at least someone who has an opinion. Now you have a voice on radio, television, the newspapers, and at speaking events.
Colossians 3:23-24 says, “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart…. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.” When I wanted to write a book, I attended Montrose Christian Writer's Conference so I could learn the publishing business and how to write with excellence. After my book was published and requests for speaking increased, I decided to attend Carol Kent’s Speak Up With Confidence speaker’s training. It was life changing. Carol’s teaching took my speaking to another level. She taught me to speak with all my heart because it is the Lord Christ I am serving.
I started teaching workshops on writers becoming speakers, because I have a passion to lead people to Christ and to lead Christians into a deeper relationship with Him. Writers have opportunities to impact the world for Christ through their books and from behind a microphone. I teach to encourage writers to tell their stories. We have a platform that can change a person’s life. We need to run to those speaking opportunities and not run away from them.
If we don’t speak, what will people listen to? If we stop writing, what will our children read? Browsing at the magazines gracing the grocery store check out counter is incentive for me to not just write, but to speak whenever given the opportunity.
Shona: What are the benefits to someone who both writes and speaks when it comes to their audiences?
Elaine: What a relief to get away from the glare of my computer and look into the eyes of real people—the ones whom God brought to hear the Good News. Speaking encourages me to keep writing when I meet people face to face, pray with them, and hear them say, “God used your book [or your talk] to change me.”
Of course, there is also the benefit of selling books. When people meet you, they see your heart, and they want to buy your books. I don’t think any writer goes through the hours of labor to birth a book so no one will read it. We want our books to be read—to matter—to make a difference in lives. Speaking gets our books into the hands of people who otherwise might not read them.
Shona: What are the benefits when it comes to working with publishing houses and print media?
Elaine: Every time I pitch a book to a publisher, I am asked “Do you speak on the subject of your book? How many times a year do you speak? How large is your audience?” Plus, those are standard questions we answer in our book proposals. The bottom line is: speakers sell books, and publishers are looking for authors who sell books. If you speak, you increase the possibility of seeing your book in a reader’s hands.
Shona: Do you have any advice for a writer who is struggling with the thought of having to develop their speaking skills?
Elaine: Oh, yes! I struggled with speaking. I read that 80 percent of the population fears speaking, so you are not alone.
Go to the Lord. Daily surrender your life to God and commit to being obedient to speak and to write for Him.
Surround yourself with a prayer team who will faithfully pray for you and your ministry.
Please know that not everyone is an energetic and entertaining communicator, but that doesn’t mean God won’t use you. I attended a retreat where the speaker was not dynamic, but she was sincere. She spoke from her heart, and her heart was filled with Jesus. All weekend I heard testimony of how God used her words to minister to the needs of the audience.
It is good to remember that we are not divas—we are servants. A servant leads people to Christ with her Christ-filled heart. Speak from your heart and allow God to do the rest.
Last, please attend a speaker’s conference where you will receive the training and the confidence to speak with excellence. There are many to choose from and they are worth the cost.
Shona: Are there any closing thoughts you’d like to share?
Elaine: We can write great books, prepare amazing talks, be articulate Bible scholars; but unless our audiences see love in our lives, unless they see Jesus in us, we are only resounding gongs. No one wants to be a resounding gong. The key to effective speaking and writing is Jesus living in us and filling our minds and our hearts until God’s love overflows from our tongues, our pens, and our lives into the hearts of people.
Prayer is another key. Pray, pray, pray, and pray some more. God knows the hearts of your audience. He knows what happened to them this week. He knows their doubts and their fears. Ask Him to reveal that to you and guide you to speak what the audience needs to hear.
Concentrate on ministering—not on performing—and speaking will become a joy to you. I know it has to me.
Thank you, Shona. It’s been fun sharing these thoughts with you. If anyone would like to contact me, I would love hearing from you.
Elaine W. Miller is an author and speaker who loves sharing the hope of Christ with her audience. A member of the Advanced Writers and Speakers Association, she is author of two books: Splashes of Serenity: Bathtime Reflections for Drained Moms and Bathtime Reflections for Drained Wives. She has been a featured guest on radio and TV and on faculty of the Montrose Christian Writer's Conference and the Upstate New York Christian Writers' Gathering. Elaine live in Rome, NY with her husband, Dan. They are blessed with three adult children and seven lively grandchildren. To learn more about Elaine, please see her website, www.SplashesofSerenity.com or her blog at http://www.ElaineWMiller.blogspot.com. She would love to connect with you on Facebook or Twitter @ Elaine W. Miller.