Talking is a Gift

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You’ve Got Questions…

…we’ve got answers. Chapter 16 of Talking is a Gift is our “Question and Answer” chapter. We offer answers to specific questions about unique speaking opportunities. While there are three basic types of speeches (informative, persuasive, and entertaining), there are many different variations of talks and settings for speeches. Christian women, especially those in leadership, have many opportunities for speaking to groups, large and small.

On some occasions, a speaker will be asked to give a lengthier talk. Thorough research and preparation are essential to effective major speeches. Significant time must be invested before standing to speak. However, many other public speaking occasions, shorter and less formal, will arise in life and ministry. These also deserve time and effort in preparation by the speaker.

Formal public speeches will actually be rare. Informal types of speaking are frequent. People are asked to make announcements, give instructions, and provide introductions. Christians are often called on to read Scripture or pray aloud. Leaders frequently must speak when they facilitate a discussion session or preside over a meeting. Women must always be prepared to speak, and believers must always be ready to speak a word of witness (1 Pet 3:15). The Lord requires our best in any ministry opportunity. Experience gained in smaller tasks will prepare the Christian for greater ministry.

Here’s an example of a question we address:

Q1. How do I introduce a speaker?

Leaders are often asked to introduce a speaker on a program. Christians women may be asked to introduce a weekly Bible study leader, a workshop or seminar teacher, a keynote conference speaker, or someone giving a testimony. Introductions have purpose and can be effective or ineffective. Always do your best!

A1. First, realize that introductions for program guests serve a purpose.

A2. A guest introduction must be prepared carefully and prayerfully.

A3. A guest introduction needs to be delivered succinctly and sensitively. The length of an introduction should be in proportion to the length of the message. For instance, if a speech is brief (10 to 15 minutes), the introduction should be only one or two minutes. If a speech is longer (30 to 60 minutes), the introduction may be three to five minutes. An introduction must also be appropriate for the setting, occasion, and audience.

Keep these delivery techniques in mind when giving a speech of introduction:

  • Connect the speaker and audience. The introduction is the connecting link between the speaker and the listeners. It should bring the two together and break down any barriers.
  • Establish credibility. Present enough information to establish the speaker’s credentials, explain why the speaker is gifted on the subject, and give the audience a reason to listen.
  • Highlight relevant accomplishments. Do not read an endless list of degrees or credentials. Do not give away the speaker’s message. Point out specifics which relate to the audience.
  • Keep comments brief. Do not turn the introduction into a speech of your own. Keep it simple and short. Focus the attention on the speaker who is often a guest.
  • Answer questions in the minds of the audience. Who? Where? What? Why? Give basic information about the speaker to answer unspoken questions.
  • Speak with confidence. When it is your turn to introduce the speaker, get up quickly and try to speak without notes and without hesitation.

Remember these points when you give an introduction. Be brief. Be interesting. Be positive. And, try not to give away too much. The acrostic K-I-S-S is a good reminder for introductions: Keep It Simple, Sweetie!

 

More questions? Leave them in the comments below!

It’s All in the Delivery

There is not one perfect method of delivery like there is not one perfect type of speaker. Every speaker must determine what method of delivery fits the personal style of the speaker as well as the purpose of the speech and the occasion. Each speaker will probably utilize each method of delivery at some time and on specific occasions. Though most speakers have a preferred method of delivery, a versatile public speaker will be aware of the different methods and be able to use each effectively when indicated.

The four primary methods of speech delivery are manuscript, memorized, impromptu, and extemporaneous. Each method requires similar preparation though different delivery. The style of presentation and utilization of notes is different for each. As each method is described below, consider a situation calling for each type of delivery.

The Manuscript Speech is written out word-for-word beforehand and read word-for-word from a script or teleprompter. There are several advantages to this delivery method: words can be carefully selected; timing can be carefully managed; and content can be carefully reviewed. Several disadvantages may develop with this type of delivery method: presentation may sound forced; tone may sound monotonous; vibrancy may sound flat; and eye contact may be limited. Manuscript speeches may be appropriate when precision and accuracy are required such as for media speeches, political messages, or graduation charges as well as when controversial issues are discussed.

Some people who are mischievous may tease or torment those who speak from a manuscript. A playful preacher once took the sermon notebook of his friend who had gone to the bathroom just before he was introduced to speak for a pastors’ conference. The sermon notes were passed across the front row of the auditorium while he was gone. The preacher panicked when he returned and realized his manuscript was missing. If speaking from a manuscript, make sure it is always in your possession.

The Memorized Speech is written out beforehand and memorized word-for-word. It is then quoted from memory by the speaker without notes. A memorized speech allows maximum movement and audience focus. It can be a very powerful form of delivery from the audience perspective. It requires excellent memory skills, thus a lapse in memory is always a risk in this delivery method. Memorization may sound rote or stiff and can develop a sing-song rhythm if not carefully monitored. Only some speakers will be able to speak from memory confidently.

The most effective memorized speeches usually are less formal and more conversational in nature. Predetermined words do not allow for audience feedback or speaker adjustment. Memorization may be indicated in character sketches and for other similar reasons as the manuscript speech. This delivery method should have an integral relationship with the content of the message.

The Impromptu Speech is delivered on the spur of the moment without preparation. Ministry often calls for speaking “off the cuff” or “from the top of the head.” Even when no time is available for preparation, thoughts must be organized and ideas must be presented clearly. Previous preparation and research as well as familiar messages are invaluable resources when asked to speak spontaneously. In 1 Peter 3:14-16, the writer declares:

But even if you should suffer for righteousness, you are blessed. Do not fear what they fear or be disturbed, but honor the Messiah as Lord in your hearts. Always be ready to give a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you. However, do this with gentleness and respect, keeping your conscience clear, so that when you are accused, those who denounce your Christian life will be put to shame.

People in leadership positions must always be prepared to facilitate a meeting, give a report, or share a testimony. Unusual circumstances sometimes call for an impromptu message. A scheduled speaker may become ill or have travel delays requiring a backup speaker. Speakers must also respond to questions and handle debates spontaneously. Lack of preparation should not become habitual. This bad habit can lead to bad speeches or bad lessons. Mission trips also provide numerous occasions for impromptu speeches. Unclear details, cultural differences, changing schedules, and unexpected needs may necessitate speaking without advance notice.

The Extemporaneous Speech is prepared in advance and presented from abbreviated notes. An outline guides the flow of points though exact words are left to the speaker at the moment of delivery. There is a logical progression of thoughts which are freely delivered. Most topics lend themselves to extemporaneous presentation. Thorough preparation and prayerful saturation ensure the material will be present smoothly and understood clearly. Most occasions call for an extemporaneous speech which many public speakers believe to be the preferred method of delivery.

Christine Jahnke describes extemporaneous speaking as “preplanned spontaneity” in her book, The Well-Spoken Woman. Preplanned spontaneity is just what it sounds like: “a balance between being excessively scripted and being unprepared.”[1] It combines competence and casualness. Jahnke uses Elizabeth Dole as an example of a public speaker who used preplanned spontaneity with excellence. At the Republican Convention in 1996 when her husband was nominated for president, Mrs. Dole broke with traditional speech delivery. She moved away from the stationary podium and descended the staircase into the audience in the large convention center. Though less formal and seemingly spontaneous, her words and movements had been carefully rehearsed and choreographed. Thousands of people were intrigued as she walked down the aisles and talked to them warmly. Extemporaneous speech delivery can be strengthened by preplanned spontaneity. As Jahnke points out, “Preplanned spontaneity will help you be ready for anything versus anything goes.”[2] Those public speakers who master extemporaneous delivery will always be ready for anything.

 

[1] Jahnke, The Well-Spoken Woman, 155.

[2] Jahnke, The Well-Spoken Woman, 176.

Talking is a Gift on SBC Life!

This week SBC Life published an article that I wrote for them about Talking is a GiftTalking, as you know, is a Spiritual Gift!

My husband once told me I have three spiritual gifts not listed in the Bible: sleeping, shopping, and talking! Oh my, I do seem like a shallow Christian. How reassuring to discover biblical support for my gift of talking. First Peter 4:10-11 says: Based on the gift each one has received, use it to serve others, as good managers of the varied grace of God. If anyone SPEAKS, it should be as one who SPEAKS God’s words.

Talking IS a spiritual gift! You may have this gift too. A spiritual gift is a special ability given by God for Christian service. Paul the Apostle often taught about spiritual gifts to encourage believers to minister to others. There is one body of Christ but a diversity of gifts including prophecy, service, teaching, and exhorting (Romans 12:6-8). The same God gives at least one of His various gifts to every believer (1 Corinthians 12:4-11). And, He personally gives them for the purpose of training up the saints, building up the body of Christ, and growing up mature believers (Ephesians 4:11-16).

There is a difference between spiritual gifts and natural talents. Talking is simply a talent if used for personal enjoyment or the entertainment of others. If the purpose of talking is ministry to others, it is a gift. Many spiritual gifts included in the Bible need words to effectively minister. A Christian must talk to prophesy, teach, lead, or exhort. Words are necessary for witnessing, service, and mercy. So, TALKING is not only a spiritual gift, it is the natural expression of many other gifts. Now I am feeling very spiritual!

The Bible teaches Christians to discover, develop, and use their spiritual gifts. Through Bible study, prayer, and wise counsel, gifts can be unwrapped. Through discipline and practice, they can be improved. And, with the power of the Holy Spirit, they can proclaim His glory. Romans 12:6-7 gives direction for using God’s grace gifts. No matter the gift, they should be practiced with generosity, diligence, and cheerfulness. According to “Rhonda’s Christian Standard Bible,” that means I must talk a lot, talk with passion, and talk joyfully!

The Bible offers insights on talking as a spiritual gift:

1. Talking is a gift from GOD. God graciously gives life, salvation, and spiritual gifts. Every person is created in the image of God with equal worth and value. Everyone is offered the gift of salvation, male and female, slave and free. And, every believer is given spiritual gifts. Who doesn’t like to receive gifts? God gives them for our enjoyment as well as the benefit of others. No gift is of greater or less value (Ephesians 4:7-8). All are given by God for His purposes. The gift of talking is no more important than other spiritual gifts, it just toots its horn more loudly!

2. Talking is a gift of LOVE. God gives salvation and spiritual gifts because of His love for His children. Spiritual gifts should be used because of love for God and concern for others. Love is a fruit of the Holy Spirit which is often expressed through words (Galatians 5:22-23). Talking either expresses love to others or causes hurt and pain. Do you know people who never have a thought that doesn’t come out of their mouths? A filter is needed to speak the truth in love (Ephesians 4:15). So, think carefully before you speak so that you communicate love and concern.

3. Talking is a gift of GRACE. Salvation and spiritual gifts are given by God’s grace with unmerited favor. We do not earn our gifts, we receive them. Words literally carry grace to the hearers (Ephesians 4:29-30). Ken Hemphill wrote in You Are Gifted: “Spiritual gifts are an individual expression of grace enabling every believer to participate fully in the edification of the church and the advance of the Kingdom.” Talkers can extend grace to others through words of encouragement, and listeners receive the gift of grace through affirmation by others.

4. Talking is a gift for GOD’s GLORY. Whatever Christians do, whether eating, drinking, (or talking), everything should be done to glorify God (1 Corinthians 10:31). I love my dad’s blessing before a meal: “Dear Lord, Help me consume this for Your glory.” When it comes to food, Dad glorifies God enthusiastically. Christians are to use their gifts to glorify God without grumbling or complaining, in everything (the good and the bad), and forever (on earth and for eternity). Words should exalt the Lord, not shine the spotlight on self.

God freely gives life, salvation, and spiritual gifts. Christians should not be afraid to unwrap the gifts God has given them. Then, we are to share His gifts with others. Spiritual gifts, including the gift of talking, are to be used with generosity, diligence, and cheerfulness. I take my spiritual gifts seriously! You should too. So, sleep in . . . shop ’til you drop . . . talk a blue streak. Use your spiritual gifts to lift up and encourage others!

To see the article on SBC Life, visit: http://www.sbclife.net.