Sunday, September 13, 2009

A Basket Of Trouble

During the Father’s Day service at church last week, you would’ve thought a poisonous snake had slipped out of its basket and was escaping into our midst. Instantly, there was a shift in the church. Those who were terrified shrunk in their seats to hide behind the people sitting in front of them. Others quickly hid their gaze and refused to make eye contact with the service leader. 

There was no snake, but the impact was quite similar. So what menace made the room cower in fear? 

Invited to share a tribute about our fathers, a microphone was being passed around the congregation, and like a venomous snake, it was being avoided at all costs.

When volunteers were slow in coming, unsuspecting ‘victims’ were chosen and the sharing began. Every brave soul who spoke did so with great love for their dad. Some spoke for a few minutes while others only a few seconds. There were tears of love and gratitude for dads who had impacted the lives of their children, young and old.

When the microphone returned to its rightful place, a sigh of relief settled over the room. Whoever was going to speak into it next would probably be the preacher or someone who knew what they were doing, right?  Everyone else relaxed into comfortable positions again.

This made me wonder why so many people avoid public speaking as if it were a cobra, while others embrace it like a competent snake charmer.

I discovered the answers to this and many other public speaking questions, when I attended a Confident Communicators course run by Caleb Leadership Ministries. ( this weekend at Edge Church in East Doncaster. 
Run as a 12 hour interactive seminar, the fears of public speaking were addressed by qualified and passionate trainers, who are evidence the right skills and experience can equip anyone to give a small talk, or even longer speech.

Learning and practicing with others in a friendly environment, was the key to the course’s success and this was the direct result of the leaders’ genuine affirmation and encouragement. Within an hour we were lined up behind the podium, sharing our stories, and using the framework of the Confident Communicators method. 

We began to look at the task of deconstructing a simple short talk, and the formula used to refashion it for our own use. The next day, the secrets to confident public speaking were further unlocked as we learnt to take the building blocks of a good talk or devotion and make it as long as we needed.  

As a writer, I particularly enjoyed discussing the element of storytelling as a vital component in communication. Just like the Lord Jesus, who used short parables to illustrate His message, I desire my words to point to the Heavenly Father, whether spoken or written. What a blessing it was to be in the company of ‘kindred spirits’ who have gone ahead and laid out a joyful path to follow! 

For me the experience was another example of how important the right training is for the development of confidence. In the words of the course description, “Learning the skills to speak in public brings confidence in other areas of life.” 
The lesson I learned was that there is no need to be afraid after all.
There is no snake, but there is a friendly microphone! 

Psalm 19: 14 May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heartbe pleasing in your sight, O Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer.