I was eleven when I went to my first public speaking conference. Needless to say, I was not terribly happy, especially because Mom said it would be “good for me”. The second day of the conference, we were practicing limited preparation, and my topic was “What is Grace?”. After my minute of prep, I proceeded to stand there wistfully for two minutes without saying a word.
It has been almost exactly six years since then and I have grown in my communication and leadership skills. I have spoken on a variety of topics in my local community, competed nationally on two occasions, and have been to a number of states to help train my peers in Christ-like leadership and communication. Now even with six years of training under my belt, I’ve still got a lot to learn. There is one thing that I realized on that day back in 2011 which has remained with me to this day: communication, and public speaking in particular, is a tool we can use to influence our culture.
Speaking is a tool we use everyday and it is a powerful resource that can be developed in all of us to change our culture for the better.
It’s not that we as young men and women can’t communicate well, it is that there is little desire to do so anymore. The standards set for us by prior generations, and the expectations we set for ourselves are so low, we never try to reach higher.
The resulting problem is that when we have a message worth telling, we are unable to present it and we are unable to defend it. The ability to discuss and debate our faith, current events, political views, or philosophical truths, is based solely upon our ability to communicate clearly, logically, and effectively. Someday you might find yourself in a college classroom where not everyone agrees with your position. Are you going to be ready to communicate why you believe what you believe? Or perhaps you receive an opportunity to talk about your faith, but you’re not comfortable talking about religion in front of other people. We need to prepare ourselves for these situations, for they will arise.
“Let no unwholesome word proceed from your mouth, but only such a word as is good for edification according to the need of the moment, so that it will give grace to those who hear.” -Ephesians 4:29
There are three things each of us should do to become better communicators both in everyday life and when speaking to the masses.
#1: Find A Community
Nothing builds confidence like working through something together. Find a community of like-minded communicators and practice. Learn to defend your beliefs, explain a passion of yours, or teach people new things! Organizations like Toastmasters and the Institute for Cultural Communicators are designed to be exactly that, training young adults to be leaders and powerful communicators in our culture. Work to become better.
#2: Get a Platform
If you have something you are truly passionate about, don’t keep it to yourself, spread it to the world. Find platforms in your community where you can share your message. Are you an adoption advocate? Talk to your church about the blessing of adoption. Good at fundraising or raising awareness? Become an advocate for an organization you believe in. For instance, organizations like Save the Storks look for young men and women to spread their pro-life message.
Communication skills come with time and practice, but when we boil it all down, God must be glorified in everything we do. Pray that no matter who you come in contact with, you will be able to communicate your message with a gracious heart, and a Christ-centered attitude.
I Timothy 4:12 reminds us, “Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith and in purity.” Let us remember this: as we work to become a generation that changes our culture for the better, all to the glory of God.
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