Unlikely Lessons from Speech Class

unlikely Acts 20:24 “However, I consider my life worth nothing to me; my only aim is to finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me—the task of testifying to the good news of God’s grace.”

Your speeches are not about you. That’s one of the first things I tell students in my Public Speaking classes. I want them to realize their speeches are about the audience. The more students focus on how they sound and look when speaking, the greater their self-consciousness, the shakier their nerves and less effective their delivery.  “There is in that act of preparing the moment you start caring,” says Churchill. When the audience senses you care more about them than your performance— they will listen and your speech will flow. I can’t help but see application beyond the classroom….

Your life is not about you.

When we make ourselves rather than our Audience of One the focal point of life, we don’t flow any better than faltering speeches. Questions like Am I godly enough? Successful enough? Happy enough? consume us. Ironically, the more we absorb ourselves in ourselves, the less godly, successful and happy we become. Because God didn’t create us that way.

God created each of us to tell His story. His story depicted through uniquely crafted jars of clay which contain an immeasurable treasure. When we dare lay down our lives for His sake, we find the only life that matters. And, oh, does it matter!  Your way of expressing the “good news of God’s grace” (as Paul puts it) differs from mine. But in a world swamped with unsatisfied egos searching for significance we each play an essential role in proclaiming that grace.

Speechwriter Peggy Noonan taught me another essential in public speaking: always thank your audience for the opportunity to speak. And so it is with our shot at life. Nothing punctures our self-centered lives quite like gratitude. It’s the compass that keeps our hearts true north.

Speech classes have taught me the importance of maintaining eye contact with my Audience. Of interspersing my days with power pauses to reflect on His grace. Of repeating taglines of truth I find in His word.

But the most essential lesson of all begins with the freeing realization that neither my speeches nor my life is about me. How about you? Ready for Speech class?

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