There are some people who are natural born orators (think Barack Obama, Steve Jobs and the like). They thrive in the limelight and jump at any opportunity to address a crowd. Then there are some of us who couldn’t think of anything worse than having people gawp at you whilst trying to think of something engaging and riveting to say. Unfortunately if like me you fall into the latter camp, public speaking is something that cannot be escaped regardless of the nature of your job etc. It is inevitable and something that we will all have to do (some more often than not) at one point or another in our lives.
There are many cues that I have taken from the Bible on public speaking. The greatest lessons I have learnt come from Moses. Here are 3 lessons that the great man of God has shown me about the thing I used to loathe most:
Where you are today doesn’t represent where you will be tomorrow as a speaker
In Exodus 4:10, Moses pointed out to the Lord (as if to say God didn’t already know what excuses Moses would come up with) that he was not eloquent in speech and so couldn’t go before mighty Pharaoh to speak. In some versions of the Bible, Moses is described as having a stammer.
The story for Moses did change however and by the time we reach the New Testament, he is described in Acts 7:22 as being ‘mighty in words and deeds.’ How does someone go from being ineloquent to mighty in words? Practice and perseverance. It may sound cliché but the more you do it, the better you will become, the greater the opportunity to hone and fine tune your skills.
How you think you’re being perceived is usually far from reality
Some conjecture actually tells us that contrary to what is widely believed, Moses didn’t actually have a stammer; maybe it was just how he perceived himself. That is extremely telling. You may think you are coming across as nervous or that people can hear your voice shaking or see your hands trembling but in reality this is not the case. Take control of your fear by not overthinking how you are being perceived; remember most people in the audience actually want you to do well so place your focus on getting your message across.
Preparation is half the battle
Like Moses, it is important to know the purpose of your message – is it to inform, persuade or instruct? Will there be a strong call to action? This is absolutely key and I think because Moses knew that he was instructing and persuading the most powerful man in the land to do what he wanted, he would have to prepare. Moses was able to pre-empt questions that he might possibly be asked and God gave him adequate responses (Exodus 3: 13 – 15).Devise a list of possible questions or concerns that you think your audience may have and try to craft some responses.
Secondly, it is important to know your content well. Moses spent a considerable amount of time with God asking questions and preparing for whatever plagues he would have to reign down on the Egyptians. He knew that he would be met with some resistance and God equipped him for this kind of response. Ensure that you prepare thoroughly by becoming well versed with your content.
We are all born to use our voice and speak up so know that no matter how daunting the thought of public speaking may be, God is backing you all the way. Don’t let the fear of public speaking stop you from reaching your full potential!
CO-FOUNDER, HYPHEN LONDON