Three Mistakes Speakers Make – #1. . . .

changes  “Start Out Early & Leave In Plenty Of Time”

I had the opportunity of “coaching” some young men who had entered a “preaching competition” sponsored by an educational association.  I was asked if I would “coach” the contestants before the actual judging session.  My task was to provide some helpful feedback to several students who would preach their sermon to me in the morning, and then deliver their final message to a judging panel in the afternoon.
I was again reminded of some basic principles of public address through those “coaching sessions.”  The first basic principle, of which I was painfully reminded, was . . . .
Changing too much, shortly before speaking, is primarily for the well-experienced.
I knew that before I actually accepted this coaching task.  I said to myself — “I needed to be careful in giving suggested changes.  Any coaching help had to be doable and limited.”   If they tried to rearrange, add to, change up an introduction, or cut out too much — any or all of that could and probably would disorient them.  They would actually be hurt more than helped by such coaching.
In fact, one of the young men had made a logical error in the order of his first two of three main points.  He had put “how we need to improve the use our tongue” before “the mistakes we make in using the tongue.”  I suggested switching them because the logical order was in error.  Almost immediately he responded by indicating that such a change would mix him up at the end.  He was going to just go with the original order.
With another, I suggested having an introduction which brought the audience into the message, rather than just beginning with the declarative statement — “Pride is the sin of the Devil, and it will ruin our lives.”  However, that wasn’t going to happen either.
Still another contestant had little to no vocal variety.  He fell into a typical preaching voice, and every sentence sounded like the one before it.  There was no vocal variety — no breaks or pauses, changes of pitch, increase or decreased volume which brought back the audience’s attention.  While I suggested and gave several examples of where he could vocally change it up to keep the audience’s attention, I knew that it was futile to think that he could be taught “vocal variety” at this occasion.  Perhaps???? —  it would help him think about that valuable rhetorical earmark of effective communication in the future.
As I said — “I was painfully reminded” — because at the end, no changes were actually made by the various contestants and I understand that! It is because there are not a lot of changes these young contestants could make without getting them all exercised, nervous, and/or confused.
There is great value in working and re-working a message, but it has to be done in a way that allows enough time to still feel comfortable with the speech or message.   That highlights the need for and value of PREPARATION!  Like driving . . . .
Leave far enough ahead so that if you have to change course, you will still arrive on time.
Unless you have a lot of speaking experience and/or have a “rhetorically ambidextrous” mind, you probably will resist making changes and messing it up more than going with what you have.
Therefore . . . .
Give yourself the time to make needed changes.
Don’t ask someone to give you help or advice unless you have the needed mental space to make any changes.
Recognize that there will always be ways to change-up what you are saying and that sometimes there is little to be gained in changing it.
Recognize that you will make some really good and needed changes if you had given yourself the time.

The earlier you start your preparation, the more changes . . . .

√ you will make

√ you can make

√ you will come to realize that you should have made



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