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When It s Finally Time to Talk

So I’ve prepared, practiced, and found my confidence to approach the opportunity to speak in public.  What next?  What am I thinking as I speak?  Where do I want to begin?  What is my end-game to the whole episode?

Let’s assume I’ve done my homework, and I’m ready to go.  These are the things I then need to do:

Be Thankful

Whenever I speak anywhere, I always open with gratitude for the opportunity.  This is not the time to poke fun at the person that invited me.  If I show honor to my host, I’ll be invited back.  If I show honor to my host, I ingratiate myself to the new group.  If I show honor to my host, I’m taking advantage of the opportunity to esteem them in the eyes of their own people.  I see too many miss this opportunity, and it’s really sad.

Be Confident

This is something I’ve gotten better at over the years, but I’m still developing.  I’ve got to own that stage, the lectern, the teaching arena, and my material.  Being confident will help me overcome any jitters or nervousness I have.  This only comes from the Lord, as my own confidence is easily swayed.  And this comes by making prayer a part of my preparation, I’d also argue that being truly confident starts months earlier when  preparation  begins.  This is not to be confused with pride; pride will destroy any chance of effecting change in my audience.

Be Sincere

The greatest public speaking gift I personally bring to the table is an ability to just be myself.  Over and over again when I get feedback from others, it centers on me “just being myself.”  I’m telling you, unless you’re presidentially gifted to speak in public; the best thing you can do is work more of you just being you into your talks.  I share my disappointments, my fears, and my own struggle to live up to the standard I’m speaking about.  The story I’m living is the story that needs to be worked into my topic.

Be Nice, yet Be Honest

When I was younger I made the mistake of often hunting for rabbit with a gun loaded for bear.  There are times that I need to be direct, honest, and hard-hitting; but those need to be planned out and prepared.  I speak from a position of struggle, and learning; and I assume the best of intentions in my audience.  I often have to pray that God gives me the confidence (see note above…) to get through the tough moments.  I’ve yet to be left alone on that stage by the Holy Spirit; even if my talk isn’t necessarily to a Christian or church audience.

Be Short

Even in the blog post, I’m going back and taking out 50+ words to make it easier on the eyes and easier to read.  The same needs to be done in a public speaking setting.  Say what needs to be said, and nothing more.  If I tell a story to illustrate a point, I don’t then need another story to illustrate the story I just said.  I also work to avoid explaining the same point 10 different ways.  This goes back to assuming my audience is intelligent and can follow along.  On a side note: Speaking to children over the years has helped me hone this skill.  Short is always better.

And on that last note…I’m finished.

Anything here that resonates with you?  Do you feel that I’m leaving something out?  Share your comments RIGHT NOW!




Jonathan Cliff is married to his wife Starr and they together live out their days with two sons and a daughter. Jonathan serves as one of the Pastors at Grace Community Church in Clarksville, Tennessee; where he works with leaders throughout the city to help develop Christian community that leads to deep and meaningful spiritual friendships. His journey has been an adventurous one, having served in the local church for 15 years in family ministry developing leaders, building environments for kids and students to belong, and encouraging parents to take big spiritual steps with their families.

1 Comment

  1. Starr · May 4, 2011

    I try and find those people in the audience who seem to be tracking with me. Nodding their head, smiling, amen-ing, etc.; then if (when) I get nervous or start to feel overly self-aware, I tell myself I’m just having a conversation with those people. Works for me. :)