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Discipline is not a pleasant topic for most people. It is difficult to discipline others, but it is even more challenging to discipline oneself. However, discipline is necessary to maintain order in life, relationships and as a public speaker! The ability to motivate oneself and exert willpower is a basic trait needed personally and professionally. Scripture admonishes believers to “run the race with endurance” – not tiring in our pursuit of Christ-likeness (Hebrews 12:1). In 1 Timothy 4:7-9, the apostle Paul reminds the Christian of the importance of being disciplined in godliness:
But have nothing to do with irreverent and silly myths. Rather, train yourself in godliness, For the training of the body has a limited benefit, but godliness is beneficial in every way, since it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come. This saying is trustworthy and deserves full acceptance.
Self-discipline is important in the speaker’s preparation of a message. Personal willpower is needed to contemplate research, organize material, and plan a speech. Many other interests and activities are distractions when thoughts should be focused on the upcoming message to be given or lesson to be taught. Discipline yourself to work on your speech and be prepared to deliver it to the best of your ability.
Discipline is needed in all areas of life in order to maintain balance and ensure healthy growth. Specific goals must be established to promote spiritual, physical, mental, emotional, and social discipline. A Christian speaker should be committed to developing the disciplines of a godly life and seek to have:
- A disciplined heart
- A disciplined body
- A disciplined mind
- A disciplined routine
The heart of a person must be pure and holy, focused on following the Lord and obeying His commands. The body of a person must be healthy and fit, adhering to proper nutrition and regular fitness. The mind of a person must be increasing in wisdom and knowledge, through listening and learning. The routine of a person must be systematic and balanced, setting aside time to pursue growth in all areas of life. These disciplines promote balanced growth in an individual and in a God-called public speaker.
A Christian must employ personal willpower in order to develop discipline but also has the added resource of the Holy Spirit’s power. A speaker who wants to proclaim a message from the Lord has an even greater responsibility to maintain a disciplined life. It is not a personal word but His divine Word to be communicated. A disciplined person will become a more disciplined speaker. The combination of personal willpower, God’s supernatural power, and people’s persuasive power will help Christians and speakers alike develop and maintain the discipline needed for life and ministry. The discipline of a public speaker “yields the fruit of peace and righteousness” to those who hear the message! Challenge yourself to become a more disciplined speaker and believer in 2015!
When drama is used effectively in public speaking, there are many advantages. But all of us have been in a service or at an event where the drama didn’t play out quite so well. So, this week, we provide you with a few important things to consider when planning to utilize the dramatic arts! Also, see below for resources to get you started!
There are some disadvantages of drama in public speaking. Both the audience and the speaker may struggle with creativity in communication. When taken to the extreme, any of these factors can become disadvantages of the dramatic arts in public speaking.
- Overuse – Drama should be used occasionally as a special feature rather than using it often.
- Mediocrity – If used, drama should be well done. The only thing worse than no drama is bad drama. “Bathrobe drama” is the term for bad drama, implying drama by untrained performers using ideas and materials at hand.
- Overspending – Expenses for dramatic productions mount rapidly. Avoid exceeding the budget and causing financial pressure.
- Shock Factor – Dramatization should be used in good taste to avoid making the audience uncomfortable. Shock usually detracts from the message.
- Special Effects – “Bells and whistles” as well as props and noisemakers should be used to enhance drama not distract from the message.
- Embellishment – Drama should not alter the Scripture text or overstate the message. The truth should be creatively but accurately presented.
- Manipulation – Emotions are a part of well-done drama. Healthy expression of feelings is recommended rather than extreme emotional control.
- Camouflage – The point of the message must be clear through the drama, not lost in the creative expression.
- Mismatch – The type of drama should be appropriate for the audience. Know the crowd and select drama personally for it.
Beware of these risks of dramatic expression. Adhere to the cautions and benefit from the advantages of drama.
One of the advantages for dramatic expression today is the availability of resources. There are many reference books, internet websites, and professional organizations for the dramatic arts. The most important resources for Christian drama are the Bible and life experience. The following resources for drama are helpful also. They offer general information as well as scripts, training, and networking.
- Actors Not Included: The Complete Works of Matt Tullos by Matt Tullos
- Art for God’s Sake by Philip Graham Ryken
- Christian Playwriting and Self-Publishing by Cleveland O. Mcleish
- The Complete Guide to Church Play Production by John Lewis and others
- Create a Drama Ministry by Paul Miller
- Developing the Church Drama Ministry by Paul Miller
- Devoted Through Drama: Monologues, Plays, and Skits for Christian Youth Groups by Kimberly Smiley
- Drama: Church Drama for Church Folks by Barbara Dudley
Many children’s books and classic works of literature provide excellent scripts for drama.
- Christian Drama Resources (www.christiandramaresources.com)
- Christian Plays (www.christplay.com)
- Creative Pastors with Ed Young (www.creativepastors.com)
- Drama Share: Your Christian Drama Resource Center (www.dramashare.org)
- Online Journal of Christian Communication and Culture (www.ojccc.org)
- Wordspring Creative Resources (www.wordspring.com)
These drama websites were active at the time of publication. Other websites may be developed to provide resources for different forms of drama.
Drama and the creative arts have been a part of the church for centuries. In New Testament times, the church led the culture in developing the arts, specifically drama. Though banned from the church at times, the dramatic arts have been powerful tools in worship when used appropriately. Dramatic arts in ministry today can reach the lost world with the gospel and the saved followers of Christ through discipleship. According to David Taylor: “Our emotions, bodies, and imaginations have a vital role, and the arts serve to bring them into an intentional and intensive participation.”
 “Christian dramatists form new association,” http://bpnews.net/bpnews.asp?id=4819 (cited 20 March 2013), Baptist Press, (Baptist Press, 2013).
 http://www.wordspring.com/?page_id=1416 (cited 20 March 2013) Wordspring Creative Resources.
 Julie W, “A Biblical Perspective of Drama in Ministry,” Online Journal of Christian Communication and Culture, entry posted December 11, 2011, http://www.ojccc.org/2011/12/a-biblical-perspective-of-drama-in-ministry/ (accessed March 20, 2013).
 David Taylor, “Discipling the Eyes Through Art in Worship,” http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2012/april/art-in-worship.html (cited 20 March 2013), Christianity Today (Christianity Today, 2013).
So you’ve been convinced that drama can make your public speaking come to life and touch the lives of many. Now you’re wondering, “Well, how can I do it?” Today we’d like to share several different approaches to incorporating the dramatic arts into your speaking!
In the realm of communication, the word “monologue” may carry a negative connotation of a long, boring speech or a speaker who monopolizes a conversation. However, a monologue is a dramatic expression used by a public speaker. The dictionary defines a monologue as “a dramatic soliloquy (oral discourse); a continuous series of jokes or comic stories delivered by one comedian.” Talk show hosts on television often begin the program with a monologue.
Everett Robertson writes, “The dramatic monologue involves one actor portraying one character in a crisis situation.” Monologues may present biblical characters, such as Ruth or Mary the Mother of Jesus, or portray an inanimate object, like the manger which held baby Jesus or the alabaster jar which held the perfume used to anoint the feet of Jesus. Monologues may be short or long, presented during a portion of the message or as the entire speech. Speakers may wear costumes and makeup for dramatic effect. The script may be written originally or taken directly from the Scripture or another text. Monologues are most effective when they reveal a truth to the audience in dramatic details.
Dramatic reading is defined as “a public reading or recitation of a work of literature with an interpretive use of the voice and often of gestures.” A speaker reads aloud a poem, essay, story, or Scripture passage with animated voice, facial expression, hand gestures, and body movements. The reader portrays the dramatic, physical, and emotional aspects of a situation. If several characters or perspectives are included, the speaker may identify them with changes of voice, posture, or gesture.
Material for dramatic reading must be selected carefully. The content must have a clear focus and appropriate emotional appeal. The audience needs to identify with, understand, and enjoy the work. Delivery requires practice and timing. Careful pronunciation and phrasing as well as a rhythmical pace enhance the presentation. Facial expression, eye contact, and gestures add to the oral expression.
One of the oldest forms of drama, storytelling is “reciting tales or relating anecdotes in a captivating manner.” While a monologue involves a character directly, storytelling includes the character indirectly. Storytelling is typically spoken in second-person, and monologue is first-person. Vivid description and animated expression is a part of storytelling. A real account is often exaggerated and amplified for effect in storytelling. Robertson encourages the storyteller to “use every possible technique to communicate the story creatively.”
For years, teachers and speakers have displayed inanimate objects to explain a lesson with dramatic effect. Visual aids are helpful to most listeners. They enhance a narrative, facilitating comprehension and identity. In delivery, the speaker should carefully connect the object and the idea. Creative interaction with the audience and object may foster application.
Role play is a form of drama used successfully in many areas of ministry as well as public speaking. It is “representing in action the thoughts and feelings of another person” During a message, a speaker may pause in her own discourse to assume the position of another person in order to emphasize or clarify a point. In teaching or training, role play may be used to demonstrate different responses or simulate varied emotions. Role playing is a creative and revealing way to present a range of emotions, values, and beliefs without threatening the audience.
One of the most creative forms of drama is pantomime, the process of silent expression. It is “conveying a story by bodily action or facial movements only.” The term “mime” may refer to the performer, though it usually refers to the more formal, classical discipline. Marcel Marceau was the famous French mime who introduced the art form into the world stage. Dick Van Dyke premiered pantomime on one of his earliest television shows as humorous, physical comedy. Pantomime communicates visually what cannot be communicated as creatively with words.
Pantomime may be used by speakers as a means of visually expressing specific actions and traits. According to Robertson, “it involves a universal language of gestures which is understood by all cultures and ages.” It can be serious or humorous and is often performed to music. Costumes and makeup may be worn. The audience often relates personally to the movements and emotions of the mime.
Clowns are known for entertaining in circuses and rodeos, but they can also be found ministering in churches and communities. By definition, clowning is “entertainment by jokes, antics, or tricks in a public presentation.” Christian clowning communicates biblical truths in a creative, non-threatening form, often in evangelistic outreach. “A Christian dressed as a clown breaks through many of the barriers placed by the secular world against religion. The joyful nature of the clown also makes it easy to tell others about the joy and colorfulness of Christ.
Do you have any other ideas for incorporating drama into your public speaking?
 Robertson, The Dramatic Arts in Ministry, 12.
 “Dramatic Reading,”www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/dramatic reading (cited 13 March 2013), Merriam-Webster Dictionary (Merriam-Webster, Incorporated, 2013).
“Storytelling,” http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/storytelling (cited 13 March 2013), Merriam-Webster Dictionary (Merriam-Webster, Incorporated, 2013).
 Robertson, The Dramatic Arts in Ministry, 21.
“Public Speaking,” http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/public+speaking (cited 13 March 2013), Merriam-Webster Dictionary (Merriam-Webster, Incorporated, 2013).
 “Pantomime,” http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/pantomime (cited 13 March 2013), Merriam-Webster Dictionary (Merriam-Webster, Incorporated, 2013).
Robertson, The Dramatic Arts in Ministry, 12.
 Robertson, The Dramatic Arts in Ministry, 15.
“Drama captures the minds, the imaginations,
and the emotions of the audience.”
God is theatrical. It has been said, “All of creation is a theater for God’s glory.” Numerous biblical accounts demonstrate that God is powerful and mighty in His actions and purposes. He created everything from nothing: the heavens and the earth, the sky and land, the birds and fish, man and woman. He continues to perform supernatural miracles, signs, and wonders to work in the world and gain attention from His children. His dramatic demonstrations of power are seen today in nature, during hurricanes, earthquakes, and blizzards. God is all–powerful; He is omnipotent in His being and His behavior.
The Old Testament records numerous wonders of God. Moses experienced the dramatic work of God when the angel of the Lord spoke to him from the burning bush that was not consumed. When the Israelites fled Pharaoh’s army, God manifested His power in dramatic fashion by parting the Red Sea, allowing His children to cross safely to the other side. Balaam’s donkey talked. The walls of Jericho fell down. The widow’s son was raised from the dead. Elijah was carried into heaven. The widow’s oil was multiplied. Elisha’s bones were revived from the dead. Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego were delivered from the fiery furnace. Daniel was protected in the lion’s den. Jonah was saved from the belly of a whale. God demonstrated His mighty power in dramatic miracles in the Old Testament.
The New Testament also contains many accounts of God’s dramatic intervention, often through the ministry of Jesus. Though Jesus refused to give a miraculous sign on command to prove His authority, He performed miraculous signs during His ministry. Jesus changed water into wine at the wedding feast in Cana. He healed Peter’s mother-in-law. He calmed the storm on the Sea of Galilee. He healed the woman with a hemorrhage, and raised Jairus’ daughter from the dead. He fed 5,000 people with five loaves of bread and two fish, and He walked on the water. He healed a stooped woman, and He raised Lazarus from the grave. Jesus demonstrated His mighty power in dramatic ways in the New Testament.
God has exhibited His power through wonders and signs, and Jesus performed many miracles in His ministry. These dramatic demonstrations accomplished divine purposes, met human needs, and evidenced the truth of the gospel. As God’s instruments, Christian communicators may use dramatic presentations to convey a biblical message or illustrate a spiritual principle. Consider how you may be able to integrate drama into your public speaking as you continue reading!
Drama is the “compression of human experience into a story we can view on the stage.” The word “drama” actually comes from a Greek word meaning “to do.” It implies action, involving a performer and an audience. Drama is a form of literature and can be prose, verse, or dialogue. It illustrates a message and can be presented from a script, by improvisation, through mime, or spontaneously during a speech. According to Lewis and others in The Complete Guide to Church Play Production: “Drama shoots darts into the hearts of the audience and pulls them out with emotions attached.” When drama is used by Christian speakers, it should be God-glorifying and Christ-centered. The message, not the medium, is the focus of a biblical truth presented dramatically.
Drama is a powerful method of expression. It speaks to the total person—physical, intellectual, emotional, and spiritual. The body performs the actions of drama. The mind conceives and interprets drama. The emotions express feelings and portray passions. The spirit convicts through the verbal and nonverbal message. Christians can use drama to stimulate and persuade the audience to consider their personal relationship with Christ. Therefore, Christian speakers should be open to drama in certain public presentations.
Oral interpretation is a dramatic art, also called interpretive reading or dramatic reading. It is the presentation of a literary work with feeling and expression, for the purpose of enlightenment. Oral interpretation and dramatic performance are similar in public speaking though slightly different in academic contexts. Oral interpretation is taught typically in speech communication programs, while drama is taught in the departments of theater arts. Both are appropriate for public speaking.
Oral interpretation began 3,000 years ago with the classical Greek philosophers who used formal oratory to teach and persuade. Eugene and Margaret Bahn wrote a History of Oral Interpretation to document the development from the classical Greek through the ancient Roman, Medieval Period, and Renaissance as well as the seventeenth, eighteenth, nineteenth, and twentieth centuries. The oral interpretation of literature has continued into the 21st century, though its nature, practice, and trends have varied. Oral interpretation and dramatic presentation can be effective and essential tools for a public speaker!
 “Oral Interpretation,” http://encyclopedia.thefreedictionary.com/oral+interpretation (cited 20 March 2013) American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, 4th ed. (Houghton Mifflin, 2009).
Platform movement and posture are essential elements of nonverbal communication. Like gestures, they should look and feel natural to reinforce the message and not distract. The stance and movement of the body involve the total person, mentally and physically. Thoughts and feelings can be expressed in movements and gestures. These two rules should be remembered when on the platform: move when there is reason to move and stand still when there is no reason to move.
One of my (Rhonda) doctoral professors roamed back and forth in front of the classroom without making any eye contact with the students during his lectures. He paced aimlessly in front of the class as he taught. As a project in a behavioral modification course, several students attempted to alter his distracting behavior. Students on the right side of the class paid careful attention to the professor as he paced—looking interested, nodding heads, taking notes, and asking questions. Students on the left side of the classroom ignored the professor as he taught—disinterested yawns, hands on desks, no notes, and no questions. Within a few minutes, the professor only paced back and forth on the right side of the room. While his pacing behavior was modified, his poor eye contact remained unchanged. I learned the impact of the speaker’s body movement and positions by observing a negative model as a student.
Posture is noticed immediately, and opinions are made about a speaker based on stance and carriage. Posture is the position of a person’s body when standing or sitting. Many different organs, muscles, and nerves in the body are used to stand. While physical conditions may inhibit good posture, most people can control posture with conscious actions. A public speaker needs good posture to support vocal projection, to display confidence, and to enhance movement.
In No Sweat Public Speaking, Fred Miller suggests four ways that posture helps communicate a message. (1) Good, straight posture indicates leadership and confidence. (2) Leaning forward toward the audience shows concern and care. (3) Slouching the body conveys disinterest and boredom. (4) Hunched shoulders suggest low self-esteem and lack of confidence. Posture is more important than many speakers realize. Evaluate posture in a mirror or on a videotape. Remember to stand up, then speak up!
There are some cardinal rules about posture and movement that a good speaker should follow. Try not to break the following posture principles:
- Do not fidget with your hands or fingers.
- Do not jingle change or keys in your pockets.
- Do not cross your hands in front of your body (“fig–leaf stance”) or behind your body.
- Do not rock on your heels or toes.
- Do not sway back and forth.
- Do not lean on the podium.
- Do not cross your arms across chest.
- Do not look down for too long.
- Do not bob or shake your head too much.
- Do not be stiff or tense.
Zig Ziglar was a dynamic public speaker and powerful Christian communicator. Though small in physical stature, he had a “bigger than life” presence on the stage. He projected energy and enthusiasm as he moved confidently around the stage. His speech content was filled with knowledge and wisdom, and his delivery style was passionate, purposeful, and powerful. His sales experience and personal faith provided the foundational principles for his speaking and writing. A master of verbal and nonverbal communication, Ziglar said it this way: “Your attitude, not your aptitude, will determine your altitude.” Stand up and speak out like Zig Ziglar did for many years.
Correct posture is an important part of nonverbal communication in public speaking. Practice these principles and avoid these pitfalls.
- Walk deliberately to the stage; avoid rushing onto the platform.
- Stand upright keeping the body core tight; avoid tension or tightness.
- Place feet firmly on the ground and slightly apart (about shoulder width); avoid stiff legs and locked knees.
- Face the audience directly; avoid turning the body away.
- Position body behind podium with hands to the side or resting on lectern; avoid gripping the podium.
- Hold head and chin up; avoid looking down.
- Square shoulders with the audience; avoiding drooping shoulders.
- Keep chest up and stomach in; avoid tightening abdominal muscles.
- Relax the body; avoid tension and stiffness.
- Breathe deeply to relax; avoid short, shallow breaths.
- Pause to look at the audience; avoid rushing into the speech.
- Watch the posture of others speakers; avoid awkward imitation of others.
Improved posture adds strength and authority to a spoken message.
Dale Carnegie, known as the father of modern public speaking, said: “A person under the influence of his feelings projects the real self, acting naturally and spontaneously. A speaker who is interested will usually be interesting.”
When your name is called and you walk to the stage…
rise up slowly,
stand up erectly,
walk out boldly,
speak out confidently.
Good posture makes a good impression on the audience and gives good support to the speaker. Outstanding public speakers develop a platform posture to reflect their attitudes and gain the audience’s attention. Body posture can reduce nervous energy and relieve physical tension. As you speak, make your body talk.
”If speaking is like cooking,
then prayer turns the recipe into a meal.”
A Christian speaker has the responsibility of preparation but also has the privilege of prayer. Before, during, and after the speech, the speaker should commit the message to the Lord in prayer. Prayer opens the heart to hear from God and directs the mind to speak to others. Without prayer, a person speaks only words. With prayer, a Christian can speak truth. Pray to speak truth from God each time you speak publicly.
Jesus illustrated in His life the importance of prayer. In John 17, He prayed specifically for Himself and others. He sought God’s guidance with the words of His mouth and the meditations of His heart. His prayer focus can be a pattern for Christians at all times, especially before speaking or teaching.
In the first five verses of John 17, Jesus prays for Himself. He prays specifically to glorify God and expresses a desire to complete the work assigned to Him. Speakers should pray for themselves personally, to glorify God and serve Him through speaking. In the second section of John 17 (vv 6-9), Jesus prays for others. He prays specifically for His disciples to hear from the Lord and be united in their message. Christian speakers should pray that their audiences will hear from the Lord and understand the proclaimed truth. In the last section of John 17 (vv 20-26), Jesus prays for all believers to be one with the Father in taking the gospel to the world.
Speakers should pray for unbelievers listening to respond to the gospel as well as for believers to spread the good news to others. Christian speakers have an example in the prayer of Jesus recorded in John 17:25-26:
The world has not known You.
However, I have known that You,
and these have known that You sent Me.
I made Your name known to them
and will make it known,
so the love You have loved Me with
may be in them and I may be in them.
Prayer is important to life and essential to ministry. As a Christian speaker prepares to speak and stands to deliver, she must commit her words and herself to the Lord. Then, the Holy Spirit will speak through her with power.
A Christian speaker should begin praying about her message from the moment she is invited to speak. Prayer not only helps a speaker know what to say, it keeps the focus on God, not self; it opens eyes to the needs of others; and it calms the spirit with confidence to speak.
In his book, Saying It Well: Touching Others With Your Words, Chuck Swindoll writes: “If preaching is like cooking, then prayer turns the recipe into a meal.” Prayer gives meaning to a speaker’s words. Like a recipe, a message has many ingredients. It is not the individual ingredients, but the blending of all ingredients that gives the dish a satisfying taste. It is prayer that blends together the contents of the speech and the methods of delivery to make a powerful message. A message from the Lord is just not right without prayer.
In general, a speaker should pray daily without ceasing (1 Thess 5:17). Praise to the Lord as well as personal petitions are vital aspects of prayer. Prayer should be focused on the purpose of the speech, occasion of the speech, and content of the speech. Prayer should be for the speaker and for the listeners. At all times, pray for God’s will to be accomplished in the message and messenger, in the hearers and their hearts. Through prayer, a speaker is reminded that God is in control of everything and can be trusted.
E.M. Bounds’ book, Power through Prayer has been called by many people “the greatest book on prayer ever written.” Bounds believed a preacher’s prayerful heart and the Holy Spirit’s anointing gave power to the message. He said, “Prayer, much prayer, is the price of preaching unction. Prayer, much prayer, is the sole condition of keeping the anointing. Without unceasing prayer, the anointing never comes to the preacher. Without perseverance in prayer, the anointing, like over-kept manna, breeds worms.” Christian speakers must be persistent in prayer.
What role does prayer play in your own preparation for speaking?