My friend Scott Williams, author of Church Diversity, and I were comparing speaker experiences after each of us finished our talks at a conference where we were both speaking. We discovered we had some of the same observations about speaking to groups. I have continued thinking about our conversation since then, and I came up with a few more thoughts.
Here are 5 random observations about public speaking:
What you think is your worst message will often be the audience’s best – Scott said that’s often because it’s old material to the speaker, after hours of preparation, but it’s new to the audience. A speaker is more comfortable delivering familiar material. It can make giving the presentation seem routine to the speaker, but the audience hears it as being more natural. (This speaks to how important preparation time is for any speaking opportunity.)
Some people are always going to misunderstand what you’re trying to say – Which is why you mix up your communication style, but still even the best speakers unintentionally leave some people behind. (Since you can’t eliminate this, all you can do is work on clarity techniques and continue to alter communication styles.)
You won’t often hear from the ones affected the most by the message, at least not immediately – Every speaker needs to know that what he or she is saying makes a difference. It has often been months, and a few times years, before I’ve received feedback from those with the largest stories of how something I said impacted their life. (My suspicion is that we never hear some of the best results.)
You’re only the messenger – You are not responsible for the listener’s response to what they hear. It’s up to the audience to implement the message. (Thankfully, God’s Spirit is the ultimate teacher in “most” of my teaching. If I’m on my game at least.)
Every communicator can improve – Great speakers are continually asking and learning how they can get better at their presentation. (You might start by asking those who know you best how you could improve.)
What would you add to my list that you have learned from speaking?