I recently posted on this blog on a topic that closely followed the post on LifeWay president Dr. Thom Rainer’s blog, “Five Mistakes Leaders Make When They Speak.” You can read my post here. Today I wanted to link to a follow up on this topic from Dr. Rainer’s blog written by Chuck Lawless, “Seven Mistakes in Public Speaking” and relate to four of his points and how they relate to us as women’s leaders.
- Not knowing the audience. How do you assess who you are speaking to? Do you think ahead to even ask the question? If you are asked to speak to any group, one of the first questions should be: What is the purpose of this event/class? After that, ask, “Who are these women?” Find out about their ages, life stages, spiritual levels, or if they are even believers at all. That will determine how you go about putting your topic together.
- Inviting indifference. I’ve heard it, I’ve trained leaders not to ever say it, but it still happens. A speaker starts off indicating she’s either bored with the message or she doesn’t know much about it. One time I started a week-long workshop with the professor telling me it will be the most boring week. Guess what, IT WAS! He wasn’t excited about teaching it at all and he let us know if right off the bat! Couldn’t wait for that week to be over!
- Assuming audience application. Obviously we cannot force someone to relate to the message or to apply the truths we share. But, I’m one who likes to step up to a challenge. If no one even challenges me I might miss it altogether. No matter what the topic, why would you want to share it with women if you don’t want them to do something with it? Find at least one main application point to challenge them to follow up on, or at least one next step they can take. Sometimes asking them to jot it down helps to nail what God is saying to them.
- Ignoring time parameters. I’m a stickler for this one even though there have been times I’ve gone over a few minutes. I will never forget the time I was asked to provide the Bible study messages for three main sessions at a women’s conference. I was given a certain amount of time and in the first session I noticed it was going very long. They tried to cram so much into the session that it was overwhelming. I began to think about how I could shorten the study and even leaned over to ask the coordinator how she wanted me to handle this. Since they were leaving this session to attend breakouts we weren’t at liberty to just keep them late. That wouldn’t be fair to all the other breakout leaders who were prepared to teach (one of which was me and I had to walk across the facility quite a ways and set up for that!). What a shame to cut short the study of Scripture! All that to say, when you are the one doing the programming, schedule it out and help the platform guests stay on time as much as possible. But we all know, once a speaker is on the stage, there’s not always a lot you can do! If you are the speaker and your time has been cut short, ask the Holy Spirit to direct each word He wants you to share. Don’t even mention that the schedule is way off, just do what you can in the time you are given. If you are early on the schedule, stick to your allotted time!
So, evaluate yourself as a speaker and teacher. How do you rate on these four common mistakes? Always be willing to learn to improve your speaking in front of others and have others you trust evaluate how it is being received.
What other mistakes are you aware of when it comes to speaking?
Speak Up With Confidence, Carol Kent