Step Up to the Opportunity
Some people are natural communicators; most are reluctant. All need to develop communicative skills whether speaking to one person or a group. Effective public speakers must develop integrity (godly character), sensitivity (awareness of needs), knowledge (expertise in a topic), desire (passion to communicate), and skill (techniques). As a Christian matures spiritually and leads faithfully, she will improve as a speaker. Leaders may be asked to speak publicly even if they are not called to a speaking ministry. Make the most of every opportunity. All speeches deserve excellence.
Here are some helpful tips for specific types of public speaking:
Public Scripture reading communicates its authority, clarifies its message, and conveys its importance. The Bible is often read aloud quickly and without power. Because God’s Word is the heart of the message, practice reading it as much as you prepare for your speech. Keep these suggestions in mind:
- Select an accurate Bible translation.
- Practice reading the passage aloud. Work out pronunciations and slow your speech.
- Clarify meaning by reading expressively and with emphasis.
- Make eye contact often and project your voice upward.
- Take seriously the public reading of God’s Word.
Announcements are important to disseminate information, highlight programs, and motivate people. When well presented, announcements can be enjoyable to listeners and effective in producing ministry response. Remember these principles as you make announcements:
- Highlight only ministries involving the majority of women you are addressing.
- Summarize information. Include only most essential facts—date, time, place.
- Build enthusiasm creatively. Incorporate variety and creativity with excitement.
- Present details clearly; repeat those most important during your conclusion.
Presiding Over Meetings
Leaders often preside over or conduct team meetings. Some meetings are guided effortlessly, while others go on aimlessly. More formal business meetings require the use of parliamentary procedures (i.e., Roberts Rules of Order 2); though less formal gatherings still require focus and order. If you are in charge of the meeting, take seriously your role as presider.
Speak Up with Confidence shares these guides:
- Know your purpose— what is the group’s mission?
- Narrow your aim—what are the meeting’s goals?
- Have an agenda—what must be discussed?
- Stay on schedule— when does the meeting start/end? how much time for each item?
- Learn to delegate—who will work to accomplish the group’s purposes?
Employ these strategies and preside over meetings with confidence.
Do you struggle with the fear of public speaking? How has the Lord helped you face this fear in your ministry?
This article is adapted from Transformed Lives: Taking Women’s Ministry to the Next Level, compiled by Chris Adams.
Rhonda Kelley is the author of several books including Talking is a Gift, Life Lessons from Women of the Bible and A Woman’s Guide to Spiritual Wellness. She is the managing editor for the Women’s Evangelical Commentary: Old Testament and Women’s Evangelical Commentary: New Testament. She is the wife of the President of the New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary, Professor of Women’s Ministry, and Director for the Women’s Ministry Programs as well as the NOBTS campus hostess.