Present for Success

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Story: I remember when I first stepped on stage to do public speaking. I was only 14. I wasn’t alone. In fact I was hidden among my peers who also were going to take part in the talk. And I wasn’t in front of an unknown crowd, but in front of my church family in my own town. Yet none of that made a difference. My heart was going to come out of my chest. My fear of speaking was greater than the fear of being discovered that I go to church by the communist government scouts who could have been in the audience. The result could have been that I’d be expelled from my ivy-league high school. Yet that fear didn’t hold a candle to my fear from public speaking. I was on stage without any preparation on how to deliver a captivating talk, just having the desire to share my heart as a Christian in a country full of unbelief. I had a noble cause without nominal redness to make an impact.

That was my first stage appearance. I have no memories on how the actual talk went, my brain has retained only the haunting memories of the fear I experienced speaking unprepared to hundreds of people.

I know that many of you have great plans and ideas, but you may not be comfortable presenting them in front of people, or you are not sure how to put a talk together for best impact. I know for a while I was not.

Public speaking may not be in your job description but it’s critical to your performance and success. In many business situations you will need to know how to prepare for and present yourself in front of your peers and superiors. You need to learn how to communicate effectively and efficiently, engaging the participants well so that they can clearly understand and accept the concepts or products you’re presenting.

Often we continue to be fearful of public speaking, even after our one-hundredth stage appearance because we never learn to craft captivating talks and the audiences seem to drift away after the first few minutes. There are techniques that you can incorporate within your talk that will help your audience engage and lean into what you are saying.

3 Components of a winning talk: Vulnerability, Authenticity, and Passion.

The audience connects to your vulnerabilities better than to your strengths. It will help the audience connect with you if you tell stories about how you overcame your vulnerabilities.

Vulnerability fortified with authenticity and fueled by passion leads to trust.
You may think that the hero in your talk is you but if that’s why you want to offer your stories you will never craft captivating talks. If you want your audiences to actually succeed in life, to quit some bad habits, to experience transformation in their parenting or marriage, to become the best company in the service they offer, then set them up for success by showing them how they can be the hero.

When you address the question of the audience, “What’s in it for me?” you can confidently establish through your story telling that it is her or his win. You can show them they are the over-comer, victor, and inspiration of their story.

Jesus did this often throughout the New Testament. In the gospels, Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, Jesus spoke to his people in parables, or as we know them; stories. As he taught the people he spoke in a context that would understand. Most of these stories pointed out how the culture did life in the marketplace and business. This allowed his audience to put themselves within the story. To ponder questions like, “what would I have done?”, “that does not make sense, why would we forgive?” Jesus used their culture and way of life to teach them new pathways towards spiritual success in their lives.

We have the same opportunity to speak into the lives of others, to invest and invite opportunity for change; it is effective to allow the audience to see themselves through your vulnerable story by showing authenticity and passion for what you believe to be truth that everyone needs to know about.

Reflection: What components can you add to your talks to make them more impact and exciting for your audience?

Prayer: God we thank you for giving us a platform to share with others, what we have learned and experienced for ourselves. I pray that you help all of us to overcome fear of public speaking and use us as your vessel to speak hope, excitement and change into our culture. Amen.