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Everyone’s got something to say. And that’s no accident.

This past weekend I surrounded myself with incredibly talented speakers and writers from around the nation. Some were just starting out on their journey, some were New York Times bestsellers or regularly booked speakers for arena-sized events. And in the end, we somehow all learned from each other. It was a beautiful thing.

I attended the She Speaks Conference in North Carolina. It’s a conference for female writers and speakers looking to learn, grow and expand their ministries and careers. Topics ranged from developing messaging to writing book proposals, from designing blogs to marketing brands. Saturday night we all gathered for a fabulous dinner (and sinfully decadent dessert plate!) and listened to bestselling author, gifted speaker and hilarious comedienne Liz Curtis Higgs talk about speaking from the heart.

I sat there in that room of nearly 700 women wondering how I would get any material for my dating blog when there wasn’t a single man in sight for miles. Perhaps that one waiter with the mustache was single? Or that handsome hotel maintenance worker? Or how about that sound guy? I was snapped back to reality as Liz talked, and the entire room  laughed and cried and laughed some more. If I could get a dollar for every gallon of estrogen in that room… I’d be a rich woman! My mascara was nonexistent by the time the waiters came around with coffee. Liz Curtis Higgs is no doubt a great writer and speaker. But there’s more to it than that. Her message itself is important, yes. But there’s something more, something about the way she embraces the opportunity to share it that really resonated with me. I listened to her talk and let myself soak up her enthusiasm and passion. It was thick in the air, impossible to avoid. But what really got me was when she started talking about what makes a message authentic.

I’m paraphrasing because I didn’t tape her talk, but I remember her mentioning how most of the time our messages are changed by the world around us, by the platforms we’re propped up on. We’re forced to fit our messages into:

    • 140 characters on Twitter because society has ADD
    • Under 500 words on our blogs because society doesn’t have time
    • Photos and videos because society is image-driven
    • Smoke, lasers and electric guitars because society must be entertained
    • Whatever format-of-the-day society defines for us

But as a speaker — when you take away the lights and music and stage props — it’s just you. Your platform isn’t Facebook or WordPress, television or radio; your platform is… well… just a stage platform! And in all its simplicity, you are finally forced to be real and authentic. What you see is what you get. And what you speak is what is said — no hashtags, links, photos or circus sideshows to get in the way. What a great opportunity!

Liz Curtis Higgs was quick to point out that speakers are not the only ones who walk around with messages to share. We all have a message. We all have something to say. We all have a platform to stand on, a pseudo microphone to hold and a voice to project the message we’re called to deliver.

So what’s your message?

Are you a single mom who encourages other single moms to not give up?

Are you someone of strong faith who shares the life-changing truths of the Bible with those around you?

Are you a successful entrepreneur who passes on lessons learned from experience to budding small business owners?

Are you a widow who helps others journey through the painful stages of grief, sadness and loneliness?

Are you a grandmother who shares tidbits of parenting wisdom for the younger generation of moms and dads?

Are you a teenager who has experienced bullying and can help others in the same boat to overcome those obstacles?

Are you a thirty-something single who understands the adventures and nightmares of dating and can help others not lose faith in relationships and marriage? (Insert smiley face here.)

Guess what: Your experiences aren’t just random. Your message isn’t an accident. It’s on your heart for a reason. And it isn’t meant to stay there.

Consider it a privilege to have the opportunity to share it with the world. Be real. Be honest. And don’t wait for whatever platform you think is worthy of your message. Speak up now — right where you live, where you work, where you attend church, where you watch sports with the guys, where you shop with your friends. Speak up now — before it’s too late.

As for me, I’m learning that my messages of trusting in God and maintaining faith in relationships are so on fire within me because they were put there by God himself. I have to share them. I consider it an honor, a calling. This blog is a blessing. And each of you readers are part of the equation, and for that I am forever grateful.

How about you? What’s your message and how are you sharing it?

Because it’s not about whether or not people are reading or listening, or whether or not you find fame and attention or pack out arenas. It’s about whether or not you simply take that first step to share.

~Ruth