No matter what career context you are in – church, philanthropy, business, politics – everyone at some point in their career will give public presentations to an audience. Since my context is more ministry with a background in business, I always love to watch up and coming communicators present content that impacts an audience.
I started public speaking when I was 13 years old. I’ve been doing it for 19 years in domestic and foreign countries. The more you do it, the more frequent you do it, the better you get. Nobody starts out being a great speaker. Even some of the greatest speakers we know today – John Maxwell, TD Jakes, Brian Houston, Joyce Meyer, Joel Osteen, Christine Cain, etc… all of them started just like you… growing, fine-tuning themselves, discovering their unique voice, and finding their comfort zone on stage. I had the honor to meet Pastor Joel Osteen and his team a couple of months ago at Lakewood Church in Houston, TX. One thing I learned from him is that he watches himself after and between every Sunday service before the service goes to broadcast. He does this so he can make changes in his presentation or to the service and adjust himself for the following Sunday. My takeaway from that was even Joel Osteen, who pastors America’s largest – one location church still works on being the best communicator he can be. Public speaking is an art and a craft that will always be an ongoing education for yourself. You will never arrive at it. We are all growing in it.
As for my journey, it took me years to find my voice and establish my own style of communicating. It’s tempting to copy someone else’s style, but it’s also dumb too. God has given you a unique message, a fresh sound, a distinctive voice, that only you can do. If two speakers sound the same, speak the same, do the same, then one of you is unnecessary. Be you and you will make an impact.
But, let’s talk about the impact for a second…
I have seen lots of people try to emerge as a speaker. Some of them are good, but to be honest some of them like just having a platform so they can get their 20-30 minutes of fame. There’s really nothing wrong with that per se, but with that approach and mindset comes with a very low ceiling of impact and influence. You can easily tell if a speaker really does care for people or if they just care about their own success. I’ve observed over the years that the truly successful leaders understand the difference between public speakers and communicators. These two people are different in how they prepare, how they think, how they deliver, how they engage, and how they connect with their audience.
To sum it up, communicators are less concerned with making a good impression, and more concerned about adding value, which enables them to be real. I like how my longtime friend, Dr. Tim Elmore of Growing Leaders and author of “Habitudes”:
Let’s break it down.
1. Public Speakers want to impress people.
2. Public speakers teach lessons.
3. Puts the message before the people.
4. Asks: What do I have?
5. Emphasizes techniques
6. Focus is the content of the words
7. Polished (image-conscious)
8. Goal: Complete the message.
1. Communicators hope to impact people.
2. Communicators teach people.
3. Puts the people before the message.
4. Asks: What do they need?
5. Emphasizes atmosphere.
6. Focus is a change in the listeners.
7. Personal (impact – conscious)
8. Goal: Complete the people.