“I’m horrified.”

I said it to a speech coach, unabashed but anxious, unprepared for what had worried me all week:

a five-minute speech.

I would deliver the presentation — for which I had been given no guidelines except for the time frame — on my first night at SCORRE, a conference created to turn participants into better communicators. The SCORRE conference, born out of the wisdom and experience of believers, business partners, and bestselling authors Ken Davis and Michael Hyatt, would require a leap outside my comfort zone, a move a communicator must make to up his or her game. SCORRE, I discovered, could facilitate that leap. A communicator can up his or her game by taking advantage of the opportunities the conference provided: sessions, speeches and social time.

In seven sessions, I learned what I didn’t know while I prepared my first five-minute speech: how to so focus a speech that what doesn’t need to be in it isn’t and what needs to be in it is, how to “talk” with my body, how to use humor, how to illustrate a speech’s points, and how to be a confident speaker. I also got to see Ken Davis dance a lot. As a result of my taking advantage of the opportunities to be part of the sessions, which were led by communicators I admire, I don’t have to panic in speech prep like I did the day before the conference.

In three video recorded speeches — each five minutes and given in front of my small group and our coach — I could compare my speaking skillz pre-, mid- and post-absorption of the SCORRE method for preparing a speech. By the conference’s third night, I had learned the method and, for the first time in my life, delivered a speech without notes of any kind. (And I nailed it, according to feedback from my small group members and coach.) The opportunity to deliver speeches daily was an opportunity to immediately apply what I had learned — and to learn that it totally works.

In the conference’s social time — during lunch, dinner, and late nights in the hotel lobby — I rubbed elbows with more than a hundred fabulous communicators. I exchanged business cards and ideas with authors and show hosts, pastors and PhD’s, bloggers and business owners and people who — YAY — plan to invite me to speak at their churches when Chastity is For Lovers launches. The social time created opportunities to network, to connect with people whose work plus mine might equal a better world — people whose relationships with me won’t end just because the conference did.

At a dinner during the conference, I stopped at Ken Davis’s table to tell him that preparing a speech using SCORRE was a far smoother experience for me than speech prep ever had been, that I would preach in favor of SCORRE on his behalf.

Today — finally home from the conference — I make good on what I told him. SCORRE didn’t pay me to praise the conference with this post. Nobody even asked me to share my experience. But my experience in the sessions and speeches and social time were of such benefit professionally and personally that I just can’t not share.

Now it’s time to up my game…

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