Last month I had my first proper speaking engagement. I’ve co-taught a seminar on writing before, and last year I was part of a panel at a conference (and was then asked to pray for and on behalf of all the singles at the conference, which was a bit daunting!). But this was the first time I had prepared a talk on a Bible passage, then stood on a stage all by myself and delivered it.
It was for my church’s women’s day, and was on the topic of ‘Life in all its fullness’, and to my surprise, I really enjoyed it. I enjoyed the whole process – the preparation, the revisions (and revisions, and revisions), and then the delivery.
I was not nervous at all. Considering I used to shake all over and talk a million words a minute even when just giving my testimony in my parents’ church, I was really surprised to find I wasn’t anxious at all. Maybe it was down to great praying by my friends, or just increasing confidence with age and experience, or knowing I was well prepared and there was actually nothing to be afraid of – or probably a combination of all three! Whatever it was, I just found it, if not quite enjoyable, at least not unpleasant in any way.
A lot of that was to do with feeling confident in the material. Regular readers will know that I am in the process of writing a book on joyful contentment, and my talk was essentially a very distilled version of some of the ideas I’m covering in that. And the book came out of experience and lots of conversations with other women in my church and friendship group. So this is material I have been living with and thinking about for about 18 months already. That level of familiarity, and the fact that so many people have said “I need that book!” when I’ve told them about it, has given me huge confidence that this is something people are interested in, and that I have something useful to contribute on the topic.
On reflection, that has been the biggest stumbling block for me in the past – does this topic really matter, and have I got anything worth saying about it? I wish I’d realised before that that’s what the (or at least a) root cause of my nervousness was. If I had, I’m sure someone would have been able to help me work out what I had to say that would add value, as presumably the reason I was asked was because people thought it was important and I could contribute something useful.
If you’re nervous about speaking, I think it’s worth digging into why. And if the root is something like that, find someone who can help you understand why you were asked instead of someone else, and what they think you have to contribute – and let me know if that helps!
I considered uploading the whole talk here for you to listen to, but it’s not freely available online (it’s on a password protected site for the women at my church), so I’m not really sure what the etiquette of that is. So here’s a two-minute clip from near the beginning. I was speaking on Philippians 4:4-20:
If you want to hear the rest, you’ll just have to invite me to your women’s conference sometime!
(PS Check out my new ‘Speaking‘ page on this site! I never – ever – thought I’d advertise myself as a speaker! Crazy what God does!)
Image credit: Kay Bakare