I have two more talks lined up this month, and when I prepare for a talk, I put a lot of thought into my outline or mind map for the talk. I don’t get too picky about every single word that I’ll use as I speak, but I do make an effort to make sure that my outline or mind map makes sense, and has some “flow” in it. I put myself in the shoes of an audience member, and I wonder if the information I plan on giving is sufficient, relevant, and helpful. I think about how to use creative illustrations and activities, and then I go back to what I have to edit some more.
In other words, as much as possible, I try to put a lot of time and effort into it. While the methods may differ, I know that most teachers or speakers would do the same thing. And whether you’re a seasoned speaker or you’re someone who makes presentations once in a blue moon, I think you’ll be able to relate to this.
Yesterday, as I was looking back on my old journals, I came across an entry I wrote after attending a talk by a man named Dr. John Ridgley. I don’t remember exactly what he does, but I know he’s a speaker and he talks about sharing an unchanging God with a changing world. He’s an Australian man who looks like he’s in his 60s, and he lived (or still lives) in India. One of the experiences he shared with us was when he came face to face with Mother Teresa, he was so blown away and speechless, that all he could say was, “God bless you!” (I think I would’ve done the same thing!)
I remember that he was a powerful speaker with a lot of funny anecdotes, but there was one thing he said that really stood out for me, and it was this:
“You can make an impact without saying a word.”
As I look back on this, it got me thinking that we can spend hours, days, and even weeks preparing for a lesson, talk, speech, or presentation, but sometimes we forget to factor in the most important part: what we do when we’re not in front or under the spotlight–what we do before we even begin.
There are many different things to think about: do we show sincerity, openness, humility, politeness, integrity? Do we practice what we preach?
I think those are all extremely important, but for today I’ll focus on one that I think is difficult to fake when you don’t have it: PASSION. I’ve found that people respond to passion. If you’re not passionate about the topic you’re talking about, then chances are, your audience won’t get passionate about it either. When you stand in front and you share and show your passion, you get the audience excited about sharing that journey with you.
So let’s say I have a topic I’m passionate about…great! But admittedly, there are days that no matter how much I love the topic, I can’t seem to come up with the passion I need. Do you ever have those days? Here are my two tips on what to do when faced with passion roadblocks:
1) Take a break. A car has to stop for gas, it just doesn’t run forever. Every so often you have to check on the oil, the brakes, etc. We kind of run the same way. Without stopping for a break, you won’t be able to check what needs attention until it’s too late. Take a break–the length differs, but do yourself a favor and take a step back, assess yourself and your life, and fill yourself up with what you need. Alone time? Family time? Vacation time? Sleep? Acknowledge it and go for it.
2) Pray. It may sound simple but it’s the one thing I can do that can make a huge difference. There are times when I feel like I’m beyond repair, and no amount of break time seems to bring back the fire and passion I once had. When this happens to me, I pray and I ask God for help. At the end of the day, I want the students to walk away with something that helped them or added value to their lives. They should not have to ‘suffer’ because I woke up on the wrong side of the bed. So I pray for strength, energy, clarity of thought, and I pray for excitement and joy to rise up within me so I can share that excitement and joy with others. When I acknowledge that it’s not about me and I invite God into the process, His grace more than makes up for what I lack.
Writing this all down helps me remember, and God knows I need the reminder! I hope this helps you in some way too. :)