At the heart of such fears is a performance-oriented approach to speaking to groups. We feel we must perform. Not be ourselves. We must put on an act, an exhibition, something for the stage.
When we shift from performance to relationship-oriented speaking, relating one-to-one, friendly, personal, real, speaking conversationally to each one in the audience, a miracle happens the fear is gone! We never again have to be afraid in front of groups.
Whatever your level of education, speaking experience, or lack of it, when you move fully into relationship-orientation with your audience speaking to them personally, one by one you become a person who speaks with ease and confidence. (These three paragraphs are by Lee Glickstein, a popular, US, public speaking coach).
The secret enabling you to speak personally to a group is to tell a story from your own experience. You are the absolute authority for your stories and people of every age are always interested in hearing anothers story, especially when you reveal how you felt at the time. A person relating a true story about their experience inevitably will be treated with respect: there is no need to be afraid. Nervousness, too, will quickly disappear as you realise that people are listening to your story with empathy and interest.
It is possible to use this approach in sharing a reflection after the gospel. Begin by describing a personal story, or your own personal reaction to some other story, a story that has some connection with or which illustrates some aspect of the gospel. Having told the introductory story move on briefly to indicate how it can relate to a theme in the gospel.
This is the process I have in mind in setting out the Sunday Gospel readings in each set of Notes for Active Church Participants. I often use the method myself in my own homilies and it seems to work well.
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