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Afraid of public speaking?

You know that moment: you step in front of a group of people and, whether there are 20 or 200, your heart drops. If it’s fundraising, promoting a cause, or sharing a mission trip testimony, you need to be able to capture a crowd’s attention and communicate your vision effectively. Here are some tips to help you do just that.

Study Your Topic

It is important to study what you want to talk about, not only to give you greater authority as you share, but also to increase your passion for it. Even if it is something you love already, looking into it will help ignite that fire that will draw people in. It will also help you feel more at ease when you are confident about your material.

Make Eye Contact.

Eye contact draws people in makes what you share feel more personal. If the idea of looking into someone’s eyes terrifies you, start by looking right above their heads at the back of the room to save your nerves; then work your way towards looking individuals in the eye.

Chill Out With The Hand Motions!

Remember, you are giving a speech and not trying to land a plane. Too much hand movement makes you look nervous and fidgety, so try to keep them by your sides unless you are gesturing intentionally to emphasize a particular point.

Umm, So, Yeah, Like.

These filler words are fine in casual conversation, but a speech is neither the time nor the place. If you want your audience to really grasp the wonderful things you have to say, avoid these four words to keep them engaged. Otherwise they may be distracted by counting how many “likes” you’ve used so far.

Speak Slowly and Incorporate Planned Pauses.

We are not trying to become auctioneers here, so take a deep breath and calm down. I’ve seen it many times: you prepare the material and study the content. You make as much eye contact as possible and even leave out those filler words. But you rush through it like a hungry man praying before Thanksgiving Dinner! That makes it hard for people to understand and connect, and you might end up with the dreaded pity clap. Intentional pauses will help drive ideas home and stress certain details. Take a deep breath and start off with a prayer to help settle your nerves. Then preach it!

Remember the Why, Not Just the What

Above all, remember the reason behind what you are doing. Whether it is preaching a sermon or talking about your upcoming mission trip, God has you there for a reason. You get the chance to speak truth and see someone find freedom. You have the opportunity to share God’s heart for the nations, and invite people to partner with you. If God has given you a message, he’s uniquely shaped you to share it; even if it’s a little rough in the delivery, God has the power to turn it into something incredible.

So don’t give up! Keep practicing and keep growing. After all, God used Moses, who had a speech impediment; Gideon, who hid from him; and Peter, who denied him three times. God doesn’t need a perfect person; he’s looking for a willing heart.


hannah-joyHannah-Joy serves faithfully at YWAM Louisville as part of our kitchen staff. Her name describes her perfectly: she is full of joy and genuine excitement about life. The love she has for the Lord and people is evident whenever you are around her.

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