3 tips for being a Successful Guest Speaker

A few weekends ago I had an incredible opportunity

I was asked to speak at The River Community Church. The River has 3 weekend services, all on Sunday, and I jumped right into their current series.

A few thoughts…

1. The Pastor of the River is Terry Prisk. Terry and I go way back and he was one of my first mentors. I owe Terry a lot! He believed in a young leader and took me under his wing and taught so much about speaking and leading. So, I really didn’t want to mess up!

Quick side story.

I first met Terry when he came to one of my classes at William Tyndale College. I had heard of Terry because he was/is a well known speaker, but it wasn’t until that class that I really got to know him.

I didn’t earn many A’s in college. I was working full time, coaching and dealing with a ton of personal stuff. So, school wasn’t the priority that it should have been. Well, Terry did a 6 week lecture on communicating and the students giving a talk was a part of that class experience. AND…Terry critiqued it! YIKES.

Well, it was, I think, the first and one of the only A’s I received! The rumor was he didn’t give out many A’s, so I felt pretty good!

All that to say, I have a high respect for Terry and to this day, I am so thankful for what he did for me.

2. The River was awesome! I loved the energy and I absolutely loved working with the staff and volunteers. Wow, off the charts incredible experience! To see a group of people so in tune with each other was refreshing!

Okay, now on to the tips. It’s one thing to teach to the same people week after week, but it’s a whole new ballgame to teach to a new audience. An audience who doesn’t know you and doesn’t know why they should listen to you.

3 Tips to speaking to a new audience

1. Ask Great Questions. It is an absolute must to ask whoever is ‘booking’ you a few really great questions.

  • What’s the culture of the Church or audience?
  • How much time do I have? Will my mic go off if I go over?
  • What do you absolutely want communicated?

2. Over Prepare. So, so important. If you’re asked to speak to a new audience, you have to be over prepared. You can’t just show up and pull out one of your very best talks.

  • You have to go over your material.
  • Practice it.
  • Walk through it in your head.

3. Be Yourself. This is where speakers get in so much trouble. We start to play some serious mental games. I know that sounds silly, but it’s true.

  • Stop caring so much about ‘hitting it out of the ball park’
  • Stop caring so much if people like you
  • Stop caring so much if they’ll ask you back

Just speak. Be yourself. Go over board with thanks and gratefulness. Make sure everybody that had a part in bringing you in knows how much you appreciated being there.

I don’t know if I was successful or not, but here’s what The River’s Creative Director said when I asked her for a recommendation for my speaking page

“Jason Raitz was engaging, funny  and totally delivered the goods when he spoke at our church!  We received many great comments from our people after the services and I feel as though they were inspired make practical Christ challenging changes from his message.  We were very pleased with his demeanor and message!”

I know I have a ton more learn, but those are some simple tips when you’re asked to be a guest speaker.

What am I missing? What would you add to the list?

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