It very possible that at some point, you will be asked to speak publicly. I know it terrifies some of you, but it is still going to happen. You will represent some group or organization and be required to say something. You will need to give a eulogy for a loved one or a speech at a wedding. In life, you will be called upon to speak in front of other people. Here are the three greatest tips I have received that are worth sharing.
- Speak Less. Seth Godin had a great statement on a blog post. He said, “When asked to give a five-minute speech, write a four-minute one and take your time.” No one, and by that, I mean no one, will be angry if you take less time than expected.
- Show Me, Don’t Tell Me. I read a book in college that underlined this truth to me. The author, whom I can’t remember, wrote that in newspapers they have pictures. They also have them in textbooks. These media realize that an image or graphic will underline the story they are telling. In public speaking, you need to help people visualize what you are presenting conceptually. It is one thing to tell people that God loves people who make a mess of their lives and another to tell the story of the prodigal son. One way gives information, and the other helps you to see and experience it.
- Be Yourself. Fred Craddock once said, “Your favorite preacher may be a saxophone, and God may have made you a violin.” You need to find our own sound. You do not have to be anyone other than who God created you to be. When you speak publicly, it should sound the same way you do privately.
These three pieces of advice help to shape all my public speaking. Sure, I have learned dozens of other helpful pieces of information, but these are the biggies. In fact, most of the poor speaking I hear usually violates at least one of these.
Maybe you will find these helpful soon. Perhaps you need to put these in the back of your mind, and when you are asked to speak, you will be ready. These have helped me, and I hope they help you sometime.