But Moses replied to the Lord, “Please, Lord, I have never been eloquent—either in the past or recently or since You have been speaking to Your servant—because I am slow and hesitant in speech. Exodus 4:10
When asked what people fear most, polls show the number one answer is public speaking. Death comes in second place. In other words, we would rather die than speak in public. Why?
When we write, we correct and refine our words before anyone else reads them. Or we can delete the words, and no one ever sees them. When we speak, we have to recall what we want to say and pray we don’t mess up. Most people fear forgetting the words or that their audience will form a negative opinion of them.
As a speaker who often yanks all of her skeletons out of the closet for show and tell, I do understand worrying what people will think of you, but I’ve found that most people appreciate my openness and honesty. Those who judge me for what happened in my past have their own problems and issues.
When I teach public speaking I remind my students that no one asks you to speak on something you don’t know about. You are the expert, and that’s why they pick you.
Last year, a friend of mine had a short story selected to be used for a filmmaker’s contest. When she learned that this honor included giving a short introductory speech before the showing of the film, she panicked and came to me for help.
First, I asked her what she knew about her audience. Were they open to your message or would she present something they feel strongly about? What is their knowledge on the topic? Their age range? Their socioeconomic status? Answers to these questions help you tailor the message toward the audience.
Then, I asked her what she hoped might come from people seeing the film. The story related her own domestic violence experience, and she wanted to educate people about this serious issue. That was her goal, to educate people and help women in this difficult situation. We found a strong statistic, 1 in every 3 women will be abused at some point in their lives, and turned it into the hook. This became her opening:
“Look to your left…now, look to your right. Pick out three women near you. Statistics indicate at least one of them will be abused at some point in their lifetime.”
Now that she had her opening and an understanding of her audience, she needed to put the rest of her points together in a cohesive presentation. We ironed that out, and then I shared the one thing she told me helped her most, “No one wants you to fail. Your audience wants you to succeed.”
When I teach public speaking I share this with my students and then give them the secret formula for nervousness:
Practice, practice, practice. Practice in the car, in the shower. Give your presentation to the dog or cat or any captive audience you can find.
Nervousness goes hand in hand with speaking, but if you remember your audience and goal and know your presentation inside, outside, and upside down, you will do well.
And most importantly, if your message is from God, He doesn’t want you to fail, either. Just as Moses succeeded in being the mouthpiece for God’s message to the Israelites, you can bring a needed message to your own audiences.
Barbara V. Evers inspires, motivates, and encourages her audiences to stretch their potential, reaching for the pinnacle of their success. She shares her own personal life in an engaging manner, drawing on experiences that touch her audience with humor and inspiration. After volunteering to share her faith story with a Bible class, Barbara discovered that her life story revealed the hope of grace when all seems dark.
Blog: www. TheWorkbenchOfFaith.wordpress.com