Some people find it easy to speak to a group-they are comfortable, relaxed, at ease, and in command of the situation. They are at the lectern because they have something to say, they know their material well enough to say it easily, and they know that they may be a little ahead of their audience, if only because they've worked at preparing their talk.
Giving a talk is no different than any other public speaking, except for the presence of one powerful friend. You, the speaker, will be comfortable, relaxed, at ease, because the Holy Spirit is present and has been ever since you first prayed for guidance in preparing the talk.
Therefore, your talk will be successful to the degree that youfunction as an instrument of the Holy Spirit in its presentation.
Hopefully you will have gone to the Lord in prayer before you are to give your talk. God will hear your prayers for an inner peace and will indeed be standing beside you at the lectern.
The following prayer, although perhaps not in your words, may convey the thoughts that you wish to offer to God.
Please help me give this talk. Please stop my knees from shaking, and quiet my heart. Instead of fear, fill me with joy at this opportunity to share my thoughts with others.
Please let these thoughts be worth hearing, and give me the words to express them well. But don't let me take myself too seriously, or worry if I make a mistake.
Help me to remember that to be warm and human is generally to be interesting; that to be honest is generally to be effective; and that a laugh is worth more than empty eloquence.
Let me avoid generalities and high-sounding abstractions; let me speak in parables the way you did.
Give me some small human measure of your divine yet simple power. Oh, Christ, who moved the multitudes, help me to reach this one small crowd.
Thank you for being with me as I give this talk. - Amen
Stepping Into Your Talk
The easiest way to overcome a feeling of hesitation or uneasiness is to give your talk. Be at peace with yourself and present your witness. Sincerity and lack of pretense will overcome many of the defects you think you have.
You do not have to be a great public speaker if your talk is clear, audible, well-paced, and interesting. Just make the best use of your God-given talents.
Let your personality contribute to the talk. Be yourself, use your own vocabulary, and let the talk reflect the uniqueness of your personality and your walk with Jesus.
Concentrate on the audience; don't concentrate on "you." Poise will come naturally.
Stand straight, feet under your body, and face the audience. Don't twist or fidget. Let your feet move a bit. Move naturally, and use opportunities to move out from behind the lectern, e.g., when giving personal witness (you don't need notes for that!).
Don't drape yourself over the lectern. If you hang on for dear life, the audience will watch you hanging and be distracted from your talk.
Stiffness is just as bad. You're not an eighth grader reciting for the first time without a feeling for the subject or your audience. Rigidity reflects your uncertainty. Take a deep breath, look at your audiences, and speak. Concentrate on your talk and you will forget about your uneasiness. Remember, you are there to minister to the audience.
Keep the Attention of Your Audience
The most efficient speaker is the one who knows where his talk is leading. Give the audience a road to follow without sidetracking them. An outline of your talk gives you the road. The audience will follow it easily if you lead them with a well-organized talk and proper visual aids to mark the principal thoughts.
Gestures should be natural, spontaneous, and flow with the talk. If you have to think about what to do or how to move, then your gestures will come too late and be out of phase with your remarks. If you have done a "total" rehearsal at home-words, gestures, voice inflections, etc., you should have no problem.
Extreme gestures that are forced or "over-mannered" for effect are obvious and distracting. So are gestures for the sake of gestures, or movements that are not natural for you.
Maintain eye contact with your audience. Don't just "sweep" the conference room with your eyes; look from table to table and speak to a person. Remember, the eyes are windows of the soul. The light of God shines in and from you. As you give your talk, also give that light away so that you can see it in the eyes of others.
Pause-to emphasize points; to regain the attention of your audience; before repeating important points; and to make the audience look at you so that you can look at them.
Repeat key points for emphasis. A good technique is to present key points at your normal delivery speed, and then repeat at a slower rate for emphasis and for note taking. For longer statements or definitions, you may want to state it three times-first at a normal speed, second, deliberate and paced; and third, normal speed for the first half, slower speed in the second half.
If you digress from your prepared talk a bit, or have a new, supporting thought that you'd like to add, do it smoothly and without excuses. These should fit the talk and be woven smoothly into the fabric of your remarks. However, don't forget that the time scheduled for your talk is still the total time allowed.
Did you lose your place in your notes? The audience knows that you are speaking from written material, so don't worry about looking to pick up your place. Do it naturally, easily, and without apology.
Many speakers use full-size 8-1/2 x 11 pages. If you are using these, don't staple or clip them together. If you have put them in a binder, take them out. As you go from one page to the next, don't turn the page over. Slide it to one side, face-up, keep it out of sight. It doesn't matter if you end up with the pages in reverse order. You will find that this technique gives a better flow in your presentation and makes a more polished appearance than if you are turning pages.
Be sensitive to your audience and to the situation. You will have the general flow and pace of the Walk to Emmaus in mind as you prepare your talk. However, be prepared to identify with the mood and spirit in the conference room at the time you give your talk.
Dress in good taste, and don't wear flashy clothes. You want the audience to listen to you and not be distracted by unusual dress. Although there's no particular formula, clean, neat, and comfortable are good measures. Hair and nails should be neatly trimmed.
When speaking, keep your head up, back straight, and look right at your audience. Project your words to the back of the room. Form your words-no slurring. Modulate your voice-but not like a roller coaster. Vary the speed, tone, volume, and force of your delivery to keep the attention of your audience. Signal when you go to a new point, and emphasize key points.
If your material does not interest you, it will not interest the audience. A voice that is a flat monotone, lacking expression, and a delivery that is filled with "ah's" is boring and will project your boredom to the audience.
On the other hand, an animated delivery, a verbal projection of the love within you expressed through your eyes and voice will arouse and stimulate the audience to want to hear more and respond to your message.
Talks need to be presented with enthusiasm and joy and need to reflect you as a disciple of Christ. Therefore, be an instrument through which the Holy Spirit can deliver the talk.
Conclude your talk with a joyful and emphatic "DE COLORES!"Leave the lectern immediately. Don't take time to pick up your notes unless it can be done swiftly. The Community Lay Director will get them back to you. Leave the lectern immediately-don't stop to shake hands or chat with the audience on the way out. Don't forget to say a prayer of thanksgiving for what the Holy Spirit accomplished in your talk.
There is a need for exact timing on talks in order to maintain the integrity and discipline. The Holy Spirit doesn't condone excess. Don't use the Holy Spirit as the reason that you "started rolling and couldn't quit" (this may turn out to be ego.) Part of the fruit of the Spirit is "Self-Control." 12 minutes is ideal for a 4th day talk at a gathering. The jingle of coins, keys or jewelry detracts from your words and your message. Fellows-keep your hands out of your pockets! Ladies-no excessive jewelry! A fixed stare, looking at the floor, and blank eyes which see no one are distracting, or even worse-annoying. Pacing, walking around, and playing with the microphone cord will draw more attention than will your message.
Last, but not least... Thoughts
Your strength is of the Lord.
If you have any requests, ask the Community Lay Director or your area's coordinator.