Giving Special Talks

Communication and Public Speaking

At camp people give talks, publicly share thoughts and pray, make speeches, and preach.

There are probably endless things you could say about communicating. We mention just a few below. One of the things we want for you as a guide, is to experience how God uses you in communicating to the adventure team, in front of the dinning hall, or in the pulpit. Take note how either God is speaking to you or through you.

Presentation Tips

Know your material. Review it. Rehearse it out loud (a few times). Be as comfortable with it as you can. If this is done well, using notes might not be necessary.

People can listen at a higher capacity (450 words per minute) than we usually speak (150wpm), so talk a little faster than conversational dialogue. Along with this one, pay attention to tone, speed (faster or slower), and inflection. This will make a presentation more interesting to listen to and keeps people engaged.

However, when you change from one point to the next, slow down. Let your audience know you are changing. Make it clear, maybe by summarizing the former point and present the next in a condensed form.

If you want people to read scripture text along with you, present the book, chapter and verse two or three times. Maybe ask them to turn to the book and give them time to do so. Then communicate the book and chapter. Then repeat the book and chapter and announce the verse. Repeat the verse just as you start to read it.

End on time. Before you start know how long you are to speak (for example, 20 minutes) and know what time you are to end. Maybe have someone in the back stand up and signal you that you have five minutes left. That can ensure a planned closure. Ending on time is a consideration of others. People being able to respect you because you respect them, helps them respect the message.

Considerations

In the processes of preparation and presentation, consider the following:

– Listen to God. Listen to God during devotional time. Listen to God while you study and research. Listen to God while you meditate on scripture. Listen to God through fasting.
– Distinguish between the things God is speaking to you and the things you are to speak to the people.
– Connect what you say to the theme of the event.
– Use visuals. You are at camp. There is tremendous liberty.
– A clean cup is nicer to drink from than a dirty one. Live holy and the message won’t be confused with the messenger.

Expectations

If you are given a topic or outline, use that information to direct the message preparation.

Make the message yours. Your emphasis. Your illustrations. Your style. Study, practice, and pray to develop the message. Implement classic speech techniques to carry the message. In your closure, allow God’s Holy Spirit to move in the explorers hearts.

Camp is designed to give you opportunity to develop skills. Find out how God has gifted you and how he may want to use you.

Preaching and Teaching

Preaching is a sacred form of communicating. We do it at camp. More accurately, you may do it at camp.

Preaching and teaching are two different things. It’s possible, in teaching, to understand something inside and out. You can explain it with ideas, illustrations, and provide a demonstration. Maybe you can even teach it through hands-on experience for your learners. That kind of deep intimate personal knowledge can be very effective in helping people not only understand but master what you’re trying to teach. However, preaching is very different. Think of preaching as having God speaking what’s on his heart through you to someone else.

The aim in preaching is not just to communicate God’s ideas through the scripture, but to be a mouthpiece so that people will actually hear his voice through you.

Being able to hear God speak to you is really important. If preaching is new to you, it might benefit you to have an older Christian involved helping with the preparation process to listen, pray, and talk with you about hearing from God and how to communicate that. Perhaps God will use this process to bring illustrations to mind.

Also, there are some differences in preaching approaches in aim and application when you are doing evangelism. Before the preparation, get to know your audience. Customize the message to those who are going to hear it. Before the presentation specifically ask for the Holy Spirit to be present and bring conviction and to allow repentance. Bless your hearers with a clear closure and immediate follow-up.

Closings

After the main ideas have been presented, after the Word has been proclaimed, it is the moment to confess your great desire for the audience. If you were fishing, it would be critical, to getting a catch, to close your net. Preach with a purpose in mind. At the end offer an alter call or the opportunity for campers to indicate, in some manner, that they acknowledge, receive, repent, commit, to God at some level. Draw in the net. What do you want for them? How can they climb higher toward kingdom purposes? What can they do, in the next few seconds, that will aline their earthly life with God’s will?

The cup is full, the people are thirsty. But who will drink? Being congruent with the message, ask for action, for commitment, for application.

You are parting ways, you are shaking hands, you are bowing out. Leave a memory that encapsulates the purpose of the talk.

Sometime it is appropriate for the person in charge of the gathering to bring a closing. In the flow of the meeting this is very much the same whether the message speaker or the meeting coordinator brings the closure. It doesn’t matter so much who brings closure, just so that it is done.

The closure is a change from the talk. The talk usually being passive, the closure being active. It can take a moment for people to transition between the two. To give them that time, repeat what you are asking them to do. Use different words. Explain the same one task you desire them to do in several different terminologies. Giving clarity to the action can give clarity to their intentions. In the task, you are actually providing a channel of expression for spiritual work to be done.

Bring closure to the talk by using it to bring change to hearts by asking people to move the public talk to their personal circumstances. This is why a prayer is often spoken over the people. It gives each person present a time to pause in the presence of the Holy Spirit to evaluate, to confess, to consider, to serenader, and or to agree with what has been said in the talk or sermon.

Closure Options to Times of Sharing, Talks, and Sermons

– Provide an opportunity for people to publicly endorse the message.
I tell you, whoever publicly acknowledges me before others, the Son of Man will also acknowledge before the angels of God.
Luke 12:8 New International Version

– Call to the alter. Invitation to the front. Not being content with eyes closed or hands raised for a closure, I wanted to make commitment a memorable and unusual action. Before the evening talk, I asked the head of maintenance of the camp to install a door and door frame on the stage platform. The closure I used was a story from out of CS Lewis’ Chronicles of Narnia where the children walked between two worlds through a door standing upright, much out of place. Instead of fewer commitments as I had supposed, an unprecedented number of explorers got out of their seats, walked up to the stage, and through the door into “new life”. The follow-up counseling rooms were beyond full and the schedule for the evening was altered.

– Group hug. This is on the lighter side of closures but still important as it fosters community. Feeling a part of a community is a good ingredient for habit building.

– Memory link. End the presentation with a summary punch that leaves an impression. This impression is the link back to the talk. Using a quote, or a scripture verse can make that connection. A super short story that has high empathy and is parallel to the talk works as well. If part A of a story was told at the beginning of the talk, telling the part B is a great closure which sandwiches the talk in a memory.

– Using classical rhetoric strategies like repetition of concept, seeing a new perspective each go-around during the talk, gives focus and memorability. A talk that uses a reoccurring phrase can also use that phrase as the closure. A get “ready because Jesus is coming back sermon” repeated, “It’s Friday and Sunday’s a-comin’” as a heart felt refrain.

– As we consider our audience at camp with ages that are young, we note that physical movement and concrete action are appreciated. If the talk was about faith, actually having the explorers take a physical step could connect the abstract concept of trusting God to the body movement. Symbolically embodying the main concept into a physical gesture can be a memory link that helps recall the message.

– At camp we have the campfire and maybe a wooden cross as closure tools. People can write out their commitment, pain, or forgiveness on a piece of paper and burn it in the fire or nail it to the old rugged cross.

At the last, give listeners a way to remember their mental pledge. Thought out, prayed about, and intentionally executed, a powerful closure provides encounters with God that are life changing.


Closure and the Role of the Guide

The guide in the audience is the ambassador and advocate of the message. The guide is to observe the reaction of their explorers to the talk and especially to the closure. This is an important part of guide’s job. The more they can ascertain of the explorers reactions the better equipped they will be at this time at the end of the meeting and when they have opportunity during a one-on-one talk.

Guides can use debriefing and later on review as a procedure to extend the life of a talk.