Public Speaking: Unlocking Your Potential (Part One)

by Trent Dunham, President

He’s our Chief Strategist Social Media + Innovation and it’s hard to believe Nils Smith has only been a part of our team since 2016. Nils helps our clients create more impact through the latest social media and online best practices, and is what I would call an expert on the speaking circuit!

That’s why I wanted to interview Nils on the topic of public speaking.

Trent: Nils, let’s start by talking about how we met. Give us a little of your backstory and how we initially crossed paths. 

Nils: Well, we were both speaking at the California Southern Baptist Convention with pastors around California. I was speaking on social media and you were speaking on fundraising. At the time, I was the Innovation Pastor at Community Bible Church in San Antonio. I remember being so intrigued by what you were teaching, but I think what really formed more than anything was our friendship.

This was 10 years ago when Facebook was a new thing, and I had just started a church on the internet. We bought onlinechurch.com and it took off primarily on Facebook. We then began to grow rapidly and we just decided, “We’re going to do ministry on the internet and see what happens!”

So we built a global community that eventually led to me writing a book called Social Media Guide for Ministry. As a result of writing that book, I had the privilege of speaking, consulting, and helping ministries all over the world maximize social media.

Trent: Effective speaking requires a unique skillset. While some may seem more natural at it than others, it’s a skillset that must be developed. Talk about that.

Nils:  Believe it or not, I’m an introvert by nature. So getting up in front of a group of people and speaking is not #1 on my wish list! But public speaking enables us to help a lot of organizations at one time. Where consulting may be one to one (which is also fruitful), when we can sit in a room of two hundred leaders and talk about topics of interest to them, it allows us to scale our impact and reach more people at one time.

I think of it this way: How can we create the greatest impact for Kingdom good? Public speaking allows us to do that.

I’ve also experienced the value of learning out loud. When I’m speaking, I’m having to figure out why we do things a certain way. For instance, how do we use Facebook? How are we using YouTube?

I have to step back and learn how to articulate things in a more organized way. And this, in turn, makes me better at my craft.

Trent: I know you’ve had a few incredible speaking opportunities recently. Tell us about one of them.

Nils: When I think back on my recent speaking events, it’s less about the event and more about the people I’ve met along the way. The one that stands out the most is the CMAA Conference in Australia. I followed Brian Welch from the band, Korn.

I remember texting my wife, “The guy from Korn is opening up for me.” So that was a fun highlight! The impact of these regional leaders across Australia and New Zealand was incredible.

Dunham+Company has such a unique global influence. And that’s part of what made speaking so impactful for me. Speaking into ministries across Australia and New Zealand opened my eyes to a whole new world. Prior to those events, I was solely focused on the work we’re doing here in the U.S.

One of the great things about the event in Australia was that we had hundreds of clients in that room, and so many were unable to afford a consultant. Yet we were able to impact and speak into them in such a tangible way. The appreciation I received at that event was probably 10 times anywhere else I’ve been.

For practical tips on how to improve your craft when it comes to public speaking, be sure to check out The Dunham Podcast episode, Public Speaking: Unlocking Your Potential.


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Ready to take the next step? Dunham+Company is here to help your organization have more impact and establish deeper relationships with your donors and supporters. Contact Bethany Cranfield at 469-454-0100 to get more information.