Adventures in Public Speaking

21 April 2021

One of the things I have done for income is network marketing. My friend and I tried to market nutritional supplements with understandably limited success. Oddly enough however, we seemed to excel in motivating our peers, and were invited to speak at several meetings. These were small groups topping out at a modest 20 people, but they really responded well.

There was a global convention to be held in Dallas Texas in one of the bigger venues. We were on the airplane getting ready to take off when I received a call from the events coordinator asking me if I’d be willing to share my experience at the youth meeting. So I’m thinking it’s a few people my age in a small room somewhere, “Sure! I can totally do that” I said confidently.

Then… to my horror, I’m looking at a packed auditorium of five hundred plus people with only a vague idea of what I’m going to say. The schedule has me sandwiched between an executive bigshot speaker and a globally renowned doctor. The only public speaking experience I had to draw on was the two words I had masterfully delivered in my high school play in which I played a disgruntled ex-business partner of Ebenezer Scrooge. Clearly, I’m going to die.

When I get nervous my whole body becomes far less cooperative, especially my jaw which means my understandability takes a big hit. They called me up and after narrowly avoiding tripping over cables on the floor, I sat down and began my train wreck of a speech. I spoke a bit about the product and the business as planned, then I launched into talking about the Lord and how through him we can have a meaningful life. One eternity later, after eeking out each word through a stubbornly clenched jaw, I had done it. I rejoined the audience, shaking and mortified, convinced I had just forced a whole room of people to listen to my unintelligible babble.

To my great surprise people were coming up to me the entire remainder of the convention commenting positively on what I said and how they understood every word. A few weeks later,  l listened to a fairly high quality recording of my speech and indeed, it was complete gibberish! No one who heard the recording could understand it including me. How then could the audience possibly understand what I had said? I am convinced God had a hand in bridging the communication gap and I think he wanted them to understand my testimony to the Truth, not unlike the Jews in Acts 2 supernaturally understanding the apostles in their own native tongue.

Jonathan Duncan