A large part of my life is public speaking. When you’re a pastor or leader, that tends to go hand in glove. And most times I’m comfortable in front of a crowd. Maybe overly comfortable. Whether it’s 30 people or 3,000, I’ve gotten past the days when I break out in a sweat or dry heave when I have to speak publicly.
Most of the time.
There are times when things just don’t go as planned. Take last Saturday’s 4:00 PM worship service, for example. Can I tell you that if you go to church on Saturday at 4:00 PM, you are a better human and godlier Christian than I am? I’m wired to do a lot of things at 4:00 PM on a Saturday, but church ain’t necessarily one of ’em. And so I understand. I get the fact that everyone who walks on stage is going to be met with crossed arms and pursed lips, with the collective look on a sea of faces, “Go ahead, preacher boy. Entertain us.” I get it.
So there I was on Saturday afternoon, doing my best to exercise my spiritual gift of announcements at the end of the service. In my defense, the major announcement was an upcoming budget meeting…not exactly Oscar-worthy announcement material. But I gave it my best.
And it crashed.
And then it burned.
And then the vultures gathered to pick the flesh of dead announcements off of my smoldering carcass.
Nothing. No crowd response. No laughter. No smiles. I’m not even sure there was breathing. It was so bad that during the announcements, I felt my cell phone vibrate in my pocket, and I almost pulled it out to look at it because I don’t think anyone would have noticed. But being the announcement professional that I am, I waited until I got off the stage, where I saw this text from my friend and fellow co-pastor Jeremy Pollard, who had been sitting in the crowd:
(Pollard has the spiritual gift of discouragement.)
Here’s how I react when an announcement / sermon point / illustration doesn’t land: I get antsy. I try to adjust course. I may even try to start over. But let’s face facts: when the crowd is gone, they’re gone.
(If you were in the 4:00 crowd, know that I love you. It’s not you, it’s me.)
So here’s the question: if you speak publicly as part of your job, how do you salvage the “crash and burn” of your stage time? What’s your go-to reaction? And most importantly, have you ever fully recovered on the spot?
Let’s make this a safe place to share our feelings and/or horror stories, and most importantly to laugh at each other. Comment below.