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The Vulnerable Act of Public Speaking

Find your voice—and keep it.

Five Misconceptions

While we should be able to assume that a fear of public speaking is less for those who answer a call to ministry, it nevertheless still brings with it its challenges separate from the fear. The challenges coalesce around identifiable yet false perceptions that surface in public speaking and that need to be named because these misguided assumptions can lead to the questioning of one’s ability to carry out the call to ministry.

The first perception that the act of public speaking exposes is the sense of needing to be perfect; yet we must realize that perfection is not possible.

The second needed change in perception is the move from “I can’t tolerate any anxiety or discomfort when I am speaking in front of people,” to “I can stand discomfort and it will pass.” One significant issue with regard to this second perception is for you to know how your body exhibits discomfort and stress. For example, unintentional gestures, sweaty palms, and dry mouth are all physical manifestations of anxiety. You need to know what your body does, and practice countermeasures to deter their potential effect on your presentation.

A third perception is the unrealistic claim that a negative review is the end of the world. Although unfortunate and uncomfortable, you will survive a negative review.

A fourth perception says, “If I fail then I am a failure.” The reality, of course, is that failure at one task does not make you a failure in others.

The fifth and final untrue perception that arises in public speaking connects a poor evaluation rating with worthlessness. Yet, even if you are given a poor evaluation, that does not mean that you have to lose your self-esteem or confidence.

It is important to notice that each of these misguided perceptions directly connects to one’s identity, one’s core being. This is because public speaking is an extraordinary act of vulnerability. Ministry involves a public leader, a public voice, called upon to share in multiple public settings the truth of faith and how that truth is embodied in you. Moments of public speaking are unquestionably moments of power, both owned and perceived. These moments must be managed for the power they have, the power that you can claim in them, and the power that they can carry over into your ministry.

July11, 2016 at 8:00 AM

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