Before She Speaks, I asked you to submit questions for my breakout for beginner speakers. You submitted some fantastic questions, and I thought I’d start sharing some of them on our blog.
Question: I have a personal testimony with some parts that contain sensitive information. How do I tell my story without “over telling”?
Answer: It’s such a great question. All of us have probably been in an audience where we are left squirming by a speaker who shared too much information. We’d all like to avoid being that speaker while being able to share our story honestly.
I went to my fabulous friend Melissa Taylor for help on this answer. Any of you who regularly read Proverbs 31 Ministries’ Encouragement for Today devotions have read Melissa’s story. She has had some very difficult things to tell, and she’s told them with sensitivity and honesty. Here’s what she said (with a few of my thoughts added in):
- Do: Consider age appropriateness of audience. Your story of abuse may be too intense for young listeners, but you can always share the lessons that you’ve learned along the way.
- Do: Use the right word but don’t be graphic about the situation For example, Wendy Blight uses the word “rape” to describe what happened to her after college graduation but doesn’t tell the details of the event. Click here to read Wendy’s story.
- Do: Tell your feelings. That’s the power of your story. For example, Melissa—tells about how a confident 7-year-old felt the next day after a neighbor abused her. (afraid, traumatized, confused, unsafe) Click here to read Melissa’s story.
- Don’t: Over-glamorize your story. Emphasize God’s redemptive work. Checking the time you spend on each is revealing.
- Don’t: Tell it if God is still at work, and you’re not ready to tell it. Retelling your story should be for the benefit of your audience, not just for your catharsis. It’s important to check your motives.
- Don’t: Tell a story that included others without asking for permission to retell it.
I thought these were fantastic insights, and I hope they help as you tell your God-story.
I am leaving on Thursday for a two-week missions trip, so I’m leaving you in the beautiful hands of Karen Ehman and Zoe Elmore. We’re thrilled that Zoe is joining our team to do our social networking. Please stop by our Facebook page “Next Step Speaker Services” or on Twitter @nextstepspeaker to welcome Zoe!