3 Keys to Dress for Success

DeathtoStock_Portraits-13Author Sarah Beckman

I recently watched a video teaching series by a very prominent women’s speaker. This speaker is world-renowned with an incredibly large following and she has produced countless bible studies with companion videos.

The moment she stepped on stage at the start of the video, the whole room gasped.

She was wearing the most hideous, bright, flowing, frock-type shirt that hung below her jacket. It was completely distracting causing everyone in the room to make a comment – not in a good way.

What I Learned at Launch by Arleen Spenceley

Author Arleen Spenceley

A week ago, I rushed from room 1018 at the Rosen Plaza Hotel to the hotel’s second floor so I would be early for the first session of the Launch Conference. I brought a laptop and a lot of expectations – high ones, inspired by the last Dynamic Communicators conference I attended: SCORRE™, in May of ‘14.

Before SCORRE™, I was the sort of public speaker who accidentally scattered her notes across a stage mid-speech. After SCORRE™, I didn’t even need them. In less than a year, using what I learned at SCORRE™ had turned me from amateur speaker to pro. I hop planes now for gigs, and people actually pay me to do it.

The conference was a game changer.

So as I plugged in my laptop last week, I wondered whether Launch would turn out to be valuable, too – whether it could do for a person’s business what SCORRE™ can do for a person’s talent.

Today, I can confidently answer my own question: heck yes.

Before Launch, I was a blogger and an author and a speaker. After Launch, I am a blogger and an author and a speaker who has been given a set of invaluable advantages: access, answers, and awareness.

Maybe your dream is to be schooled by Dan Miller, Ken Davis, or Danny de Armas. Or maybe it’s to eat fish tacos with them. Doesn’t matter, since at Launch, both will happen. That’s because attendees are awarded access to experts who educate and encourage everybody, while they are on and off stage.

At each conference session, members of the Launch team taught us to discern our callings, discover our assets, design our products, and develop our markets – to learn from their successes and not to repeat their mistakes. We got to know them over meals, and they got to know us. We discussed our work with them in one-on-one consultations. They learned our names and we learned the secrets to their success. That access provided a second invaluable advantage: answers.

You don’t know what you don’t know, and you’ll never know if you don’t ask questions. We – about 40 of us in all – were free to ask questions before, during and after conference sessions, and even at meals and in hotel hallways. We brought the questions we’d always had (i.e., “Can I charge more for what I do?”), brought up the questions that arose in us while we learned, and also asked questions lots of us previously had nobody we could ask.

What did the experts bring? Answers. And good ones – thorough ones, backed by their experiences. Those answers provided a third invaluable advantage: awareness.

The Launch crew is honest but kind: if you like it and you’re good at it but nobody will pay you to do it – whatever it is – it’s a hobby. An attendee’s awareness of that can change his or her life, in a good way. It can spark the start of his or her success. The conference was an opportunity to discern whether how we deliver our messages is actually viable (and how to do it viably if haven’t started to yet).

Via answers to our questions and via conference sessions, what needs work and what we’re already good at came to light. Becoming aware that a lot of what I already have been doing is working boosted my confidence as writer and speaker. But what each of us are aware of now as a result of Launch is probably most important: a system exists that is designed to turn the talents with which we spread our messages into success. It’s a system that people such as Dan Miller, Ken Davis, and Danny de Armas have proven – a system that works.

And with the access, answers and awareness I received as an attendee at Launch ’15, I expect to prove it, too.

profile pic march 2015Arleen Spenceley is a blogger, a speaker, and the author of Chastity Is For Lovers: Single, Happy, and (Still) a Virgin (Ave Maria Press, 2014). Read her blog at arleenspenceley.com. Click here to follow her on Twitter, here to follow her on Instagram, and here to like her on Facebook.

Average Alone; Exceptional Together

Author Mark Jevert

The start of the 2015 baseball season is upon us. As a Cubs fan, and for fans of all the teams, hope springs eternal, and everyone (well, almost everyone) thinks that this is the year for their team.

1907 CubsI came across this photo of the last Cubs team to win the World Series in 1908 (yes, it’s been a really long time). Three of the names that stand out to baseball fans today are the famous double-play combination of Tinker to Evers to Chance.

On Speaking: Lessons from Lincoln

Author Jeff Vankooten

Abraham_Lincoln_November_1863Written in 1863 in a scant 273 words and delivered in just over two minutes, Abraham Lincoln gave what is arguably the most famous speech in American History. It’s impact came not from it’s length or importance at the time (it was secondary to other presentations that day) but by the power it delivered on three levels!

Coming Soon: The Art and Business of Public Speaking Podcast

Stay tuned for the upcoming Art and Business of Public Speaking Podcast, hosted by, Ken Davis!

DCI Podcast Cover Art 6c FinalFor over 30 years Ken has helped speakers writers and performers build exciting careers. This podcast will be an extension of the SCORRE™ Conference and the Launch Conference. We hope our podcast will educate, encourage and inspire those who desire to communicate effectively.

Sign up for our newsletter in the sidebar so you’ll be the first to know when the podcast airs!

Enough Information Already, Tell Me What You Want Me To Do!

DeathtoStock_Creative Community4Author Curtis Fletcher

I am old enough to have lived through the rise of the Internet. Back in those early days, when some suggested this thing was just a fad soon to go the way of the television western, the terms “internet”, “world wide web”, and “information super highway” were used synonymously. Prior to the intrusion of this Infobahn into our daily moment by moment there were only three sources of information that were readily available to the general populace: the phonebook, the Encyclopedia Britannica, and the public library…and the latter was the easiest place to find the former two.

The explosion of enlightenment that has occurred with the waxing of the web has deeply impacted nearly every area of our lives. We have more facts and figures at our fingertips today than could possibly be used in a multiplicity of lifetimes. So it comes as no surprise that those who step up to the present day pulpit, be it religious, political, or corporate, afflict us with more anecdotes, stun us with more studies, and smother us with more statistics than ever before.

Now don’t get me wrong. I LOVE a good illustration. I have been teaching people to use them for decades. But as an audience member in each of the three aforementioned arenas I can often easily sniff out when the speaker began their preparation with: “I must be sure to use this story”, or “We need to be sure we say something about…”, or “They need to know how good/smart/efficient/expert/better than the competition we are”.

Allow me to suggest that if you REALLY desire to have a deep impact on your audience you should start your preparation with two simple questions:

  1. What do I want my audience to do?
  2. Do I need to convince them to do it or do I need to train them how?

Allow me to further suggest that should you venture to give this rarefied approach a go, three essential benefits will ensue:

1. It will force you to put your purpose first thus simplifying preparation

Starting with these two simple questions will literally, with practice, allow you to capture any length presentation in a single sentence. No matter if that presentation is a five minute impromptu testimonial or a thirty-seven chapter book. In this age of information overload defining a discreet purpose allows you to eliminate the extraneous and focus on that which will be most effective in driving home your purpose.

2. It will force you to put your audience first thus connecting you more deeply to their need

These two questions, and especially that nagging second one, force you to examine what you know about your audience. If you allow it to it will become the voice in your preparation that brings you back to their perspective. You won’t have to search for the “perfect opening joke” to attempt to connect; you’ll be connected and connecting throughout.

3. It will force you to focus on outcomes thus bringing clarity and focus to your communication

I recently consulted with a gentleman who was looking to create a strategy for his online content. He was somewhat befuddled as to how to capture everything he MIGHT have in his arsenal to talk about and distilling it down into something to which his audience might subscribe. His options were so broad that he was all over the board.

By starting with these two questions we spent one 30 minute phone call and two email exchanges and came up with a content roadmap that will serve him for an entire year. The presentations nearly are writing themselves as he uses this mechanism to focus the vast information and experience he already has in his own head.

If you want to move an audience provide them with a clear destination and convince them why they should make the journey or help them know how to get there. Do this, and you’ll see and feel the difference in your preparation, your delivery, and your results.

How do you begin preparing your presentations today?

Do you find it difficult to package everything you have into the right timeframe or word count?

Would you like to learn an easier way to create presentation with laser-like focus?

You can leave a comment by clicking here.

If you’d like help in how to use these two important questions join us at the SCORRE™ Conference this May in Orlando! Click here to learn more. 

Curtis is a speaker, coach, and grandiose pontificator who regularly consults with large organizations on topics ranging from customer experience to the Internet of Things. He has a passion for helping people create wow moments for their audiences and customers. When he is not coaching someone in communications or marketing he can often be found preparing for his next half marathon, something he finds terribly perplexing.

One Word: Focus


Author Mark Jevert

I’m one of many who choose one word to use as an anchor point for the year. I usually start thinking about it mid-December, and by the time the end of the year rolls around, I’ve settled on a word I believe should shape not only my year, but also me.

Books have been written about it, and I’ve seen entire schools, churches and businesses take on this practice. Now, each of my family members practice this each year, as it helps provide a daily compass.

In years past, my words have been:

  • Dance
  • Trust
  • Abide
  • Daily
  • Hope
  • Present
  • Joy

This year (shortly after Thanksgiving,) I learned that Bill Gates and Warren Buffet were each asked for one single word they attributed to their success — they both chose the word FOCUS.


As one who has learned that in order to achieve more focus and clarity in speaking and writing, one must narrow both the subject matter as well as what is communicated, this struck a cord. Furthermore, considering my decision to launch a new consulting company this year, it was a no brainer that focus should be my ‘word’ for 2015.

Steve Jobs once said, “People think focus means saying yes to the thing you’ve got to focus on. But that’s not what it means at all. It means saying no to the hundred other good ideas that there are. You have to pick carefully.” I too often say “yes” to too many opportunities, cluttering my schedule with good projects but crowding out room for the best ones.


Another aspect of focus is to help ‘keep the main thing the main thing.’ This allows me the freedom to set my phone down one day a week and not jump to answer every email or inquiry. I think this is what Paul Allen was inferring when he said, “Technology is notorious for engrossing people so much that they don’t always focus on balance and enjoy life at the same time.”


I’m wearing this word on my wrist in 2015 with one of the bracelets pictured here. It’s a visual reminder for me each day (if you don’t think this helps, check out Louis Oosthuizen’s story in winning the 2010 Open Championship). An added bonus is that the company who makes these bracelets, Mud Love, uses 20% of all their sales to provide clean water in Africa.

I was one of thousands who took the “ice bucket challenge” in 2014. So MY challenge to YOU for the rest of this year is to consider choosing one word. It’s a powerful tool in my life, and I trust it will be for you as well.


Mark is the Chief Creative Strategist for Next Consulting Services, and serves churches and non-profits in marketing, branding, and strategic planning. He started his career in marketing and banking, and then served for 30 years with Youth for Christ in a number of roles. He is a fan of Chicago sports team, and He and his wife, Debra, call Kalamazoo, Michigan their home. They have three amazing adult daughters.

Testimonial: Why the Laffoons Love Launch

LC Ad LaffoonLaura and I can say with supreme confidence that the Launch Conference changed the trajectory of our ministry more than any other training or seminar we have attended.  Launch helped us clarify who we are as a ministry and why we do what we do.  It helped us create our brand and gave us an understanding of the audience who need what we offer.  

The personal attention from the coaches was such an added bonus. 

We attended over 10 years ago and to this day we use the process and tools we learned at Launch in our ministry.  We give Launch our highest recommendation.  If you are ready to take your endeavor to the next level and beyond, Launch IS your next step!

Jay & Laura Laffoon

3 Outcomes Every Speaker Should Avoid

Author Sarah Beckman

DeathtoStock_Portraits-3 smallI was excited for the lesson – even more so because I wasn’t teaching it. Friends said the speaker was good. I knew she had taught many times before, so I figured she must know what she was doing. My expectations were high.

That might have been my first problem.

Is it wrong to assume that people who are given the privilege of teaching others should teach them well?

Not even two minutes into the content, and I knew we were going downhill. I was left grasping at the slippery surface the whole way – trying to catch any meaningful insights I could between the tangents and the deluge of knowledge she threw like snowballs the entire session.

Ever been there?

Frustrating to say the least.

I’m a speaker too. So I understand the difficulty of paring down a bounty of valuable information, finding the time to do so, and then actually delivering the goods in a compelling, memorable manner.

However, as speakers, we owe it to our audience to constantly evaluate and make our process better. We have been given a privilege — they have taken the time to show up and are ready to listen and take action. If we use a process in our preparation that forces us to think about what we are trying to achieve – what we want our audience to DO when they leave — we are halfway there.

I use the SCORRE™ method in my speech preparation, and even though I am completely sold out on its effectiveness and power, I too, can be tempted to circumvent the process and head for the hills.

But the problem is, without a trail map, you will end up going places you never intended. Your audience deserves better. 

You speak to make an impact. And it’s important to know that if you don’t choose a process, and stick with it faithfully, you will end up with three unintended outcomes.

Unintended Outcome 1:  Distracted Audience

I showed up that day READY to learn. I expected to be nourished spiritually, and to get new insights from a reputed teacher. However, when the material was more like a stream of consciousness than an outline, I became distracted. (In fact, I wrote down the objective and rationale for this blog while she talked.)

When we don’t do the hard work in advance to create a cohesive message with clear rationale, we end up with disinterested listeners. We want to engage our audience, not distract them.

Unintended Outcome 2: Overwhelmed Audience

When that speaker flooded her message with every single scripture she came across related to the topic, I felt like I was drinking from a fire hose! I have no doubt she was smart and knew her Bible, but her vast knowledge overwhelmed me. It also made me feel inadequate.

When we impart all our knowledge instead of only what is essential to achieve our objective, we lose our listeners. We want receptive listeners, not overwhelmed ones.

Unintended Outcome 3:  Unmotivated Audience

No matter how much I wanted to “get something” out of the message that day, my speaker couldn’t take me there.

Why? Because she didn’t know where “there” was herself.

When we don’t create a crystal clear objective by forcing ourselves to answer: “What do I want them to do when they leave?” our audience has no clue why they came to hear us in the first place. We want to inspire our audience to action, not leave them unmotivated.

Circumventing an often tedious, but necessary, speech preparation process, will leave us settling for outcomes we never intended.

As long as we have been given the stage, the podium or the conference room, we need to take that privilege seriously. The work needed is worth doing, so do the work! You will have engaged, receptive and motivated listeners…who will certainly be glad you did.

What is your speaking preparation process? 

You can leave a comment by clicking here.

If you don’t have a process already, consider attending the SCORRE™ Conference coming up May 4-7, 2015 in Orlando, FL.

Sarah Beckman is a Speaker, Writer and Communications Coach.  She also speaks to audiences across the country on topics including loving your neighbor, sharing your faith, safeguarding your marriage and digging up your talents.  She lives in Albuquerque, New Mexico with her husband, Craig and her 3 teenage children.  She loves the mountains and eating green chile.