Sharing the Good News in 5-7 Minutes

Toastmasters InternationalI’ve been wondering for quite awhile what’s the best way to share my faith and other issues related to the church that I serve. I don’t want to turn people off, but I have a message to share. I have Good News.

I’m not a preacher in the typical sense. I don’t get into the pulpit every week to give some sort of homily to an entire congregation. Rather, I find myself working with small groups of church leaders and students of the faith. I want to share with them the joy and passion I have for this Word that comes from God.

I’m also a Toastmaster, so that means I like giving speeches in 5-7 minute time slots. OK, so that’s an over-simplification, but the time block is a good length for getting across a point without overwhelming your audience.

What if I were to present a series of short talks about different books or themes in the Bible? What if I had prepared brief presentations on leading a Sunday school class or how our faith connects with the world around us? Yes, these are items that I’ve been wanting to share, but they have been stuck in my head. These are thoughts that need to be organized, researched and practiced so that the delivery engages the audience.

I am looking forward to practicing these type of talks. I look forward to the day when I could confidently give three such speeches in a row with barely a use of any notes. This is one reason why I am forming a church-sponsored Toastmasters club, not to exclude persons who are not a part of the church, but to provide persons of faith a much more comfortable place to speak of the Good News and its impact on their lives.

Check us out if you are in the Nashville, Tennessee, area. We are planning an initial demonstration meeting tomorrow, August 26, at Hillcrest United Methodist Church, just off of Nolensville Pike and Tusculum Road. The meeting will be following the 10:15 a.m. worship service. Feel free to come on by at 11:30 a.m. if you worship elsewhere. There will be cookies and coffee provided to tied you offer for an hour.


Toastmasters Brings Confidence as Speaker and Leader

Toastmasters InternationalOn July 1, I will become governor of Area 52 of Toastmasters District 63. Toastmasters International is an excellent organization that has guided many to greater confidence as speakers and leaders. Indeed, it has helped me greatly in overcoming my own nervousness and in finding a way to lead an organization to fulfill its mission.

I joined Toastmasters nearly four years ago, shortly after being laid off from my first full-time paid job, which I had held for five years. The economy was beginning to collapse, and I was anxious about my search for new employment. I was a certified Christian communicator and a clergy member of the United Methodist Church, but I was not confident in my own ability to communicate orally either in a job interview or a future place of employment.

For years my parents, both former Toastmasters, encouraged me to seek out a local Toastmasters club. However, it was the lack of employment and the advice of a career counselor that finally gave the kick that I desperately needed. Fortunately there was a Toastmasters club meeting just around the block from my home.

Upon joining Nashville Toastmasters, I quickly learned to listen carefully to what people where saying and doing when they are speaking or leading a meeting. The evaluation aspect of Toastmasters is one of the most powerful aspects of the program. Evaluation in Toastmasters is very supportive and encouraging while also addressing the areas that need work. We do pick a best speaker of each meeting, but it is more a time for encouragement than it is a time of putting one on a pedestal. Everyone who is a member of Toastmasters knows that we all came with something to learn. Therefore, we know that we were once that new person who struggles to get out a sentence without saying “um” ten times.

I listen now. I pause before speaking. I am much more able to facilitate a meeting without it turning into an argument. I am grateful for Toastmasters and am looking forward to this new year as Area Governor.