I had the chance to speak to a group of middle school students on Sunday. It was one of the best learning experiences I have had directly related to speaking in a long time. I was forced to adapt my speaking style, change some of my natural tendencies, and adjust on the fly. It was one of the most rewarding experiences. After sitting back and analyzing the process and talking through some of my thoughts with others, I came up with a list of four things I learned about me and speaking from this opportunity. In no way are these thoughts meant to be derogatory or negative. They are just observations I made about myself and speaking to students. The four lessons will be posted as shorter posts so that they are easier to process. I hope this helps you as much as it has helped me.
- I learn through the process. – This is probably the most important thing that I learned about myself while preparing to speak. When I speak my best it is because I have studied and learned the material myself. I am very much a learner, therefore I have to experience what I teach on my own through researching, learning, digging, and processing before I can communicate it. If it has not changed me, it does not change others. What works best for me is if I can study and create my own content that I have internalized and processed, then teach it to others. I can use a framework someone has given me, but I have to do the leg work on the backend otherwise it is not personal and I feel disconnected from content. I have to do the hard work of coming up with the content, because I cannot spit out someone else’s words, thoughts, or ideas. I have to go through the process of creating from scratch. I think this comes with being a teacher at heart, not necessarily a preacher. I make a distinction because a teacher geeks out over the nitty-gritty. He gets excited about word studies, sermons, and commentaries. He enjoys listening to other points of view, gathering insights across the gamut, compiling them, and creating something else that contributes to the conversation. His concern is communicating clearly and effectively what has changed him at the deepest levels in hopes that it will change others at those levels as well. The only way I can do that is by going through the process myself and showing people my process in hopes that it will lead them to the same conclusion. The process produces an “Aha!” moment. That is what I live for when I prepare. I want that lightbulb to go off because it has gone off for me. Because, for me, it is just as much about the journey as much as it is about the place you arrive at. I need to experience the journey, the process in order for me to fully appreciate where the plane needs to be landed. The process is vital for me.