I recall repeatedly telling my parents during my boyhood days that I would never ever speak or preach in public. However, for the past three and a half decades that which I feared in childhood has occupied a significant portion of my time. It is an essential part of my call to ministry and leadership. I couldn’t agree more with Sinek when he says, “Leadership requires two things, a vision of the world that does not yet exist and the ability to communicate it .” (Sinek 2009) Verbally communicating this vision through public speaking plays a critical part. After all these years, one would imagine that I would be doing this with a certain level of comfort and confidence; that every time my speeches would be concise, colorful and persuasive. How I wish it were true.
Here are my confessions and my take away from the reading of Scott Berkun’s Confession Of A Public Speaker:
As much as my call demands speaking in public and as much speaking as I have done these many years, I never cease to stand before a crowd without trepidation almost every single time. I must also confess, that I totally agree with my wife’s recent observation that the older I get, the longer it takes for me to get to the point. Berkun’s insights drive home the realization that I tend to critique myself a little too harshly; condemning even the smallest error.
Berkun observes that Mark Twain himself, who made most of his income from speaking, not writing, said “There are two types of speakers: those that are nervous and those that are liars “. (Berkun 2010) That, occasional mistakes are normal and acceptable, and when it comes to public speaking, many others do feel as nervous as I do, is certainly reassuring.
Groups that I usually address are considerably smaller in number. Berkun’s insights relating to the ‘density theory’, and his suggestions to amplify energy among the gathering were helpful. Following these tips will definitely improve the manner in which I take control of the audience, building a higher level of confidence within and the ability to communicate better. (Berkun 2010, 49)
Asking for more information on the audience and their expectation of me is something that I seldom do. Berkun has reinforced within me the fact that my presentation will be more effective when I keep the audience in focus , understanding what they need to know, what needs to be communicated and then to do it with skill and passion right from the heart.
Berkun, Scott. Confessions Of A Public Speaker. California: O’Reilly Media Inc.„ 2010.
Sinek, Simon. Start with Why. London: Penguin Books Ltd.„ 2009.