When you use Scripture as your plumb line and the five senses as your viewpoint, you will have something to say that others will want to hear.
WHEN I WAS ASKED THE QUESTION “WHO INFLUENCED YOU?” names ran through my mind and faces danced in my vision. My mom, who loved unconditionally. My dad, who demonstrated the joy of working hard and laughing riotously.
My husband, who remains calm in the craziest situations and speaks peace to our family.My dear friend Carole, who has never wavered in her faith even though she has faced more tragedy than most people. My daughter, who believes it can be done — no matter what it is. And friends and family who have inspired my life and who have laughed with and prayed for me.
But today I want to tell you about a special influencer — Florence Littauer (pictured below) — who trained more than 30,000 speakers and leaders, including me.
Florence grew up with her two brothers in three rooms behind her father’s store in Haverhill, Massachusetts. Her high school students produced her wedding to Fred Littauer, which was featured in a double-page spread in Life magazine. She wrote more than 40 books, including many bestsellers such as, Personality Plus and Silver Boxes.
When she taught the first C.L.A.S.S. in the early eighties, she never dreamed she would build a training business that would guide thousands of outstanding Christian speakers and leaders. She is a legend and an inspiration. Here’s a small sample of what Florence taught me.
1. Every person has value.
I’ve watched Florence stand for hours in a receiving line as people waited to meet her. She never hurried. Instead, she looked at each person intently and listened to his or her story. The nervous, reluctant, shy person was as important as the famous celebrity in the line. As you and I lead others, remember every person has great worth and significance.
2. You have something to say.
Your life experiences qualify you. The skills you’ve learned and whatever situations have occurred in your life combine to make your story unique. When you use Scripture as your plumb line and the five senses as your viewpoint, you will have something to say that others will want to hear . Florence used her unique life story to illustrate what God can do. She taught us to be alert to life so we won’t miss the stories.
3. Words have power.
As wordsmiths who speak, lead and write, we must find a fresh, powerful way to present our message and vision by using creative analogies, quotations from others, lyrical terms, repetition, powerful verbs and other techniques. Become a student of language by reading good writers. Florence taught us to return to the classics. Study the words and phrases and incorporate them into your presentations and leadership style.
4. Become a storyteller.
Storytelling is essential in most cultures because story is how we learn about our traditions and history.
Story is also how our brain absorbs and adapts abstract truth. If you want your audience or your team to understand you, tell a story that illustrates the point. I can still hear Florence say, “A story must have a point.” Study the structure of a good story and keep a list of your personal stories.
5. Your goal is to serve.
Become a servant leader and a servant speaker. When a group brings you to their event to speak or lead, you are there to help them from the moment you arrive. I’ve helped decorate tables and serve food and joined in the cleanup to the astonishment of event planners because Florence taught me to serve as I lead.
My influencer taught me by what she said, but I learned much more from her by what I observed. Her interactions with others showed me the path.“In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven” (Matthew 5:16, ESV).
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Karen Porter: Thank you, dear one, for this excellent profile of Florence Littauer and her influence on you. I learned so much from Florence also — and your list captured so well what she taught!
Oh, what a wonderful blast from the past. I drove across the country to attend a C.L.A.S.S. training back in the late 90’s. It was amazing. I still have the training notebook we received. It was such a delight when I noticed last week that she was an AWSA member.