Who are you?

Heard this story at a church service on Sunday.

“A rabbi was walking home from the synagogue after a long day of going about his work. It was later than usual, and as he walked home, the sun set. Lost deep in thought, he took the left – instead of the right when the path split. Instead of nearing home, he was walking towards a Roman outpost. “WHO GOES THERE” boomed a deep voice in the dark, shaking him from his thoughts. Shaken and confused, the rabbi tried to figure out who this was at his home. “WHO ARE YOU AND WHAT ARE YOU DOING HERE” thundered back, as a massive centurion stepped into view. The rabbi quickly realized the mistake he must have made. Instead of answering the centurion’s question, he replied, “how much are you paid to stand here every day?” “Three drachma” replied the centurion. “I see,” said the rabbi. “I will pay you twice as much to stand in front of my door and ask me the same question every single day.”

Tip on public speaking: Don’t say you’re nervous

When speaking in public, you are bound to feel jittery. You are in front of an audience, singled out, with everyone observing you. It’s perfectly normal to feel somewhat nervous.

What you don’t want to do is call attention to it. Don’t start out your speech by saying: “I’m sorry, I’m a bit nervous right now.” Speakers tend to do this as a way to build rapport with the audience. They think that confession will build sympathy for the speaker and the audience will be more attentive to what the speaker says.

But it doesn’t work. By confessing to the nervousness, the speaker has called attention to it, and now the audience focuses on the nervousness rather than the message. The slight stammer, the shaky hand, the uncomfortable fidgeting that all may have gone unnoticed now become magnified. The audience sees a nervous person on stage and feels pity. Yet the power of the statement becomes lost. Your opportunity to voice your thoughts is lost to your own honesty.

When addressing an audience, speak confidently. They are listening to you for a reason. They have given you their attention and their time. No matter how nervous you may be feeling, don’t waste that precious chance. Be confident.

Public Sharing

Last night I went to a New Year’s Eve party hosted by folks from my church here in the Valley. We ate good food, played silly games, and talked. As midnight approached, we gathered in a circle and shared what we were grateful for from the previous year and what we had learned.

I always enjoy these moments. I get a chance to hear from everyone what they had experienced from the previous year, from new jobs to visits to the hospital to the daily stress of life. The prevailing theme seemed to be one of trying to break from complacency. Multiple people spoke to their desire to extend beyond their comfortable lives and to pursue purpose and mission.

I am reminded that it is not by our own efforts that we can live radical and dangerous lives. We pursue passionately after God when we recognize how passionately he pursued after us.