Public Speaking Tip: Know Your Audience

It’s important when you’re speaking to an audience to know who makes up the audience.

This is an elementary public speaking principle.

I’ve been speaking for years…in school, business and ministry.

I know the principle. Most of the time I obey the principle.

Recently, though, I missed this.

I spoke to a group of 4 year old children. I told them the story of David and Goliath. It is one of my favorite stories, one I enjoyed acting out with my boys when they were young.

The problem this time. I forgot my audience.

I told the “whole counsel of God”. I shared the whole story.

Remember the part at the end…what David does to Goliath? It’s my favorite part.

He cut his head off.

Yep, I shared it. To the 4 year old children. My audience.

Have you ever seen the bright eyes of surprise on a 4 year old?

Yep, I saw them.

Yep, I heard from the teachers too. No parents yet.

Here’s an elementary public speaking principle:

Know your audience.

5 Ways to Fight Insecurity as a Pastor or Leader

I was talking with a young pastor recently. He is overwhelmed with the responsibility he’s been given. His church expects a lot from him…leading the church, preaching great messages, and seeing the baptistry consistently in use. He realizes the weight of his position, but much of it he doesn’t feel qualified to deliver. He accepted the position knowing there would be challenges, but now he’s wondering if he’s in over his head.

I realized he was dealing with a huge dose of insecurity. I previously wrote “7 Traits of an Insecure Leader“.

It caused me to ask myself, so I could counsel him:

What’s the best way to deal with insecurity in leadership?

Here are 5 ways to deal with insecurity as a pastor or leader:

Avoid comparisons – Insecurity often develops when a person compares his or herself to another. Don’t try to be someone you’re not. Be yourself. Realize that who God designed you to be is not a mistake. Obviously, someone believed in your abilities as a leader. You need to stop comparing and start living in your own skin.

Concentrate on your abilities – What are you good at? Make a list of your good qualities. You probably have more than you think you do. In times of feeling insecure we often forget. Keep your list handy. It will help you to feel more confident if you focus more on the positives than the negatives.

Surround yourself with people who complement your weaknesses – Part of having a healthy organization is the strength that comes from different people. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. There are probably people who can do things you don’t feel comfortable doing. It’s not a sign of weakness to get others involved. It’s actually a sign of strength as a leader. (And its a more Biblical model of the church.)

Keep learning – Seek wisdom from other leaders. Read books. Take additional classes. Knowledge is power. The more you grow in information the more competent you will feel in your role. (By the way, when I feel overwhelmed or insecure, I read the stories like that of Gideon, Moses, Joseph, David, or Joshua repeatedly. Great encouragement.)

Ultimately, find your identity in what’s really secure – You have a relationship with Christ. Remember, “You can do all things through Christ who gives you strength”. If you are facing insecurity in leadership you may have to simply get better at walking by faith. “He who calls you is faithful, who also will do it.” (1 Thessalonians 5:24)

Insecurity will weigh you down and hold you back as a pastor or leader. It will keep you from doing all you were called to do. Don’t let it!

That’s my advice.

What would you add?

If you want to attract leaders for your team

Give them a problem to solve

If the answer is already found, you can hire a manager for that job…and you’ll need a good one. You’ll have other problems to solve and a good manager can free you up to lead.

But, to attract a leader…

Help them see a need…give them some freedom to find a solution…give them support…get out of the way…and let them go.

Leaders seek opportunities to lead

Challenge…opportunity…problems…something everyone says cant be done….

That’s an environment that fuels a leader’s energy. It’s what attracts a leader to your team.

Are you in an environment that attracts leaders? What makes it so?

What experience does for you…

You are never the same…

After a major stretching moment in leadership…in life…you never stretch back the same.

Even if its a failure…it will serve a greater purpose.

You’ve got experience now.

You’ve got a story.

You have more wisdom.

You’ll be better able to stretch the next time.

You may not enjoy the stretching you are currently enduring, but keep in mind…it’s making you someone new.

A better, stronger you.

The Unwritten Rules

Are the real rules

In an organization, what is passed down, maintained over the years, repeated the most, become a part of tradition…that’s what is real.

That’s the DNA

They may have never been written down, voted on or “put in the minutes”, but they are assumed true by the majority.

Those are the rules people will defend and protect the most.

They’ll fight to keep them from being changed or bended.

If you are a new leader or a veteran, understanding this principle will increase your effectiveness.

Trust me in this.

Have you ever learned the principle the hard way?

7 Ways to Gain and Keep Trust as a Leader

People follow people they trust. Do you want to be a trusted leader? Let people learn to trust you.

I’ve found trust develops over time and experience, as we witness trustworthy behavior. Honestly, it’s a delicate balance, because while the leader needs to be strong, independent and confident, a trusted leader must be approachable, inclusive and humble.

Here are 7 ways to gain and keep trust as a leader:

Always display confidence, but never cockiness. People will trust a competent leader, but one who is arrogant will be dismissed quickly.

Always follow through, so don’t over-commit. When a leader does what he or she says they will, people gain trust. When the leader always bails on responsibility, people begin to doubt everything the leader says.

Always put trust in others, so they’ll put trust in you. Trust is a mutually exclusive commodity. People won’t extend you trust they don’t feel they receive from you.

Always extend grace, but be firm in some non-negotiables. (I wrote mine HERE) We need to allow people the freedom make their own way, including the freedom to fail, make mistakes, and be assured we will forgive them if needed. We should have, however, some standards which are not open to discussion. Those should usually be issues of character, vision or values.

Always try to be knowledgeable and aware by constantly learning, but realize you don’t know everything and you’ll know far more with a team. People trust a teachable leader. They are leery of a leader who knows it all…or pretends they do.

Always exhibit humility, but take great pride in your work. A humble, but diligent and effective leader is a trusted leader. It’s as simple as that.

Always value people more than you value progress. This is especially difficult for driven leaders, but people trust people they trust care for them.

What other ways would you add to gain and keep trust as a leader?

A Leader in Time of Crisis, Uncertainty or Change

After the riot in Ephesus (Acts 19:21-41)

How did Paul respond?

Read it for yourself:

After the uproar was over, Paul sent for the disciples, encouraged them, and after saying good-bye, departed to go to Macedonia. And when he had passed through those areas and exhorted them at length, he came to Greece. Acts 20:1-2

That’s the role of a leader in times of crisis. In times of uncertainty. In times of change.

The people following you are looking for assurance that everything is going to be okay. They want to know there is a plan. They want to hear things are moving forward with confidence.

Help people process the pain of their circumstances.

Give them hope. Encourage. Challenge them to continue.

Lead.

A Key to Successful Delegation

What is a key to successful delegation?

  • Don’t just delegate responsibility.

  • Delegate authority.

Give people the authority to determine how the work gets completed. In healthy delegation, you have already helped them determine what a win looks like. You helped shape the vision. Now, let them set the tasks to complete the job. Let them determine timing and the players on their team. It’s so much better than simply holding them responsible. When people have authority they take ownership. They assume (partial) liability. They become personally attached to the outcome.

Responsibility without authority only puts pressure on people. When a person is responsible for completion, but has no authority of how to make it happen, it becomes a job more than a mission. It’s frustrating.

Granted, letting go of authority is hard. It won’t always work. The truth is people will disappoint you…they won’t do the job the way you were expecting. Simply releasing responsibility seems freeing. Releasing authority seems risky.

Oh, but when it does work…when delegation takes hold completely…effectively…you, the organization and the entire team benefits. And, the reward is far greater than a project not properly delegated.

Great leaders push through the fear of letting go by trusting people to make decisions, so that ultimately more decisions can be made, leadership development occurs, and the organization grows.

Not to sound contradictory, but this doesn’t mean you are off the hook as the delegating leader. I wrote about that in THIS POST. Successful delegation requires releasing responsibility, and authority over the delegated project, while maintaining a healthy, though distant, oversight until the project is completed. I know, that’s difficult, but it’s part of what makes leading so much fun :) …and so much better.

Be honest, how are you at releasing authority?

Copy Principles, Not Practices

Don’t try to copy practices.

If you must copy…copy principles.

Systematic planning…copy that.

Productive meetings…copy that.

Celebrating wins…copy that.

Embracing healthy conflict…copy that.

But…

Staff meetings every Tuesday…maybe…maybe not. You need productive meetings, but Monday might be your best day. Or, you may not meet but every other week in your context.

An annual volunteer banquet featuring an outside speaker…maybe…maybe not. You may find other ways to celebrate volunteerism and victories that fits better with your style.

It’s true in organizations and with individuals. You can be like someone in principle. You can copy their morals. You can be like them in character. But, individually, you should be who God designed you to be. Independent of how others were designed. You have a unique role to play in God’s plan.

So does your organization.

You can copy principles. In fact, why not? You may need to in order to be a healthier team.

Be careful, however, trying to copy practices. Your context will likely be different from where you copied it.

Have you ever been guilty of copying a practice that didn’t work?

5 Ways to Help Young Leaders Succeed

I love working with young leaders. I consistently look for ways to invest in and recruit those who are currently entering the field of leadership or who will be in the future. In doing so, I see part of my role in working with younger leaders as helping them succeed.

I’ve been practicing this for years with incredible results finding new leaders; for non-profits where I serve on the board, to businesses I’ve owned, to churches where I’ve served as pastor. It is often “easier” to get a “seasoned” leader, but I have found, in certain positions, the younger leader is the best option. Here are a few things I’ve learned along the way.

5 ways to help a new leader succeed:

Eliminate the fear of failing – If a young leader knows failure is welcome, and  that a certain amount of mistakes are even expected in the early days, they’ll feel more willing to take risks. They’ll more quickly begin to add value to the team.

Understand he or she may be afraid to ask – Asking may be perceived as a sign of weakness. They know that. New leaders sometimes want to make the best impression and often that means they will refrain from seeking help. They may have 100 questions the first day, but they don’t want to keep asking. Release the tension of asking. In fact, approach them first with “What questions do you have?” If they can’t handle some things on their own in the days and weeks to come you can address that then but in the beginning, recognize their need for help acclimating to a new environment and new responsibility.

Give consistent, constructive, encouraging feedback – Young leaders, even more from this current generation entering the workforce, need to know how they are doing and how they can succeed. They may have an idea in their own mind. It may or may not be correct. They need to know what you think. They won’t know unless you tell them.

Tell them what they need to know, but don’t know to ask- There are always things in any organization that a person needs to know to be successful. The unwritten rules, the hidden culture. It isn’t written in a handbook or in a employee orientation, but you can make young leaders better by letting them in on “secrets” they’ll learn anyway sooner or later. It will be easier to learn them from you.

Give them a seat at the table of influence – They probably haven’t earned it, but it will make them a better leader. It will stretch them. They won’t always feel prepared, but you already gave them the freedom to fail, right? Let them have some insight. Give them an early voice. They will more quickly feel like an insider and a part of the team and you’re more likely to discover a potential superstar leader.

Those are my suggestions.

What would you add?