Thursday, November 20, 2008

Public Speaking Reflections

I love my MOPS group both for what it is becoming to me, and for what it is helping me become this year. The more I attend, the more connection I feel with the other involved mommies. Beyond the breakfast, door prizes and affirmation, I get a chance to meet new people each time, and get to watch them become more comfortable with themselves and each other. MOPS is simply a great support organization that is touching over 100,000 lives around the world, and I am one of them.

I have had the opportunity to be stretched this year by finding and executing just the right crafty projects for 50 moms of different crafting backgrounds. I have been invited and affirmed to speak to the group personally each week through our newsletter devotional entry. And I have so enjoyed the experience of providing input on the Steering Committee and realizing that the sum of my life experience really does have some relevance here.

This morning was a special event for my personal development. I requested and was given the honor of a speaking slot, which turned out to be today. My topic was Fuel for the Adventure. If you know me at all, you know I love food and cooking. So this morning I got to trade my crafty lady hat for a cook's apron, and share a few things about nutrition with my girls.

As it has been at least five years since I have spoken in front of a group, I had a little public speaking anxiety; but knew that this was about the safest environment in which to expose myself as an inexperienced speaker. For the first time I wish I had some teaching experience to fall back on. Fortunately I was able to identify a few pointers for myself to improve for the next opportunity. Here are my reflections on the matter:
  • First, I literally kept having to take a break to BREATHE! Who would have thought, but the fluster of speaking overrode my involuntary nervous system. Next time, I will practice breathing, and may even insert reminders into my notes to pause.
  • Second, it's finally time to confront my MICROPHONE phobia. In high school public speaking class, we just stood at the front of the room and practiced things like avoiding "um", keeping the lower body still, and moving a step or two for emphasis when changing points. In college, my classes added a podium and multimedia presentations to my experience. I also really enjoy the aspect of creating meaningful handouts to take home. But nowhere in that experience did I have the chance to get comfortable with the microphone. I will definitely practice that before my next experience!
  • Third, my suspicion was true that HUMOR puts both myself and the audience at ease. I actually found myself cracking a covert poop joke in front of these church moms (as in, "I have been promised that my son will be potty trained by the time he leaves for college"), and got a great response! Yes, all I needed was a little affirmation to be funnier. Like I don't try hard enough already...
  • And finally, AGAIN? I think that for the right people, public speaking is a bit of a drug. I was just getting comfortable, realizing I had enough content for twice the time, and had to wrap up. Now I wish I had a couple more chances to do it again and do it better. But I do know that if this is indeed the path the Lord has put me on, then He will bring the next opportunity.
My fellow moms now know me for all the things I am passionate about: my crafty side, my thoughtful writing side, and my foodie side. They even know that for me, speaking does not come naturally but is a skill to be learned. It is such a pleasure to be known both as a mom and for the parts of myself that I feel are most like me, and I am grateful to have found a place that allows me to be me.

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