Teachers (Part 6): Lecturing Do's and Don'ts
Article ID: 2890
Age Group: Adult
Days Up: 7,029
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Posted: July 16th. 2000
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Many people are investigating the religions of Witchcraft, Wicca and other Neo-Pagan Paths today. There are many books and reference materials available, yet after some self study, there are some folks who would like to meet and perhaps work with a physical teacher. This can be a rewarding learning experience - or it could turn out to be your worst nightmare...
You've Been Asked To Present A Lecture Or Talk On Paganism:
Yes, You CAN Do It!
The key is to be prepared. You can use the teacher's lesson plan outline to help you to organize your thoughts and materials. Do this at least one week before the event. Make all revisions and additions in the next few days and spend the remaining time practicing your talk.
Unless this is a lecture on the successful application of telepathy, practice out loud. Try to work out the "uhs' and the "ums", but make room for some planned pauses in the talk right after you have made an important point. (Hint: Pause and count to three.) You may want to consider taping your practice sessions with a video camera. This is especially helpful when it comes to checking out your hand gestures and use of facial expressions. You can always erase it later, or if you really want to save the taxpayers some money, you can just mail it to Ken Starr yourself.
Lecturing Do's and Don'ts
In every lecture, you should speak as an average person, but also as one who has experience in the subject. You want people to identify with you, but you also want them to respect that you know your stuff.. It's a delicate balance.
The use of personal pronouns is important in achieving this balance. "We" and "I" are usually appropriate in speaking among other Pagans or friendly interfaith meetings. (Perhaps WE could look at it from another angle?") "You" is often most appropriate in speaking as the authority/ teacher/expert. (YOU, as concerned parents, have a right to know.")
Be sensitive to who your audience represents. Don't use Pagan jargon in a mixed or general audience. Realize that words such as "coven", "ritual" or "sabbat" may arouse a negative response in those who may connect these words with strange or bizarre behaviors. You may decide to use neutral words like "holiday", "meeting" and "religious service" which everyone can identify with.
Anticipate the points where the audience may be formulating some question in their minds. Answer that unspoken question-or if you are saving the answer for your "big finish"- you can say something like, "At this point, you are probably wondering what this may mean to you. Don't worry, we'll be coming back to this point later." Otherwise, the audience may continue to mull over that question in their minds and miss the other points that you want to make.
If you lose your train of thought during a lecture or talk, it is usually better to simply go on to the next point in your lesson plan notes.
Make use of your personal stories and experiences. This projects warmth and draws people in. But don't overdo it. You want to project experience and the human element, not come across as self-centered and egotistical.
If you do use Pagan terms, define them immediately.
Be yourself! Use your own sense of humor, and style. But if you are naturally soft-spoken , you may need to practice talking in what you personally would consider a "shouting" voice. (Have a friend listen to make sure you really aren't shouting!.) If you tend to speak rapidly, concentrate on slowing down your speech. And watch those hand movements! Unless this is a talk on the fine points of belly dancing, excessive hand waving makes you look a bit out of control. (Think televangelist. Is that the look you really want to go for?)
Build a point by point progression up to the main point that you want to get across. (Lesson plan! Lesson plan! Did you remember to bring it with you?) The best transitions are brief and tie the next point back to the main theme.
Other Points To Remember:
Smile, use humor, and warm up to your audience. This helps them relax and relate to you. If you see smiles and heads bobbing up and down in agreement, you'll be more relaxed as well.
Explain the subject of your lecture/talk right away. Why are you here? Why is the audience here? If you aren't sure, they are going to start wondering, too.
Use words that invoke imagery and graphic description. Listen to politicians and how they use certain words to paint a vivid picture of an issue ...or the members of the opposing party!
. Ask yourself, "What one thing do I want people to understand or do as a result of this presentation?" Tell the audience what that idea or action is.
Don't redo your main format the day of the lecture. If you are already nervous, this will only make you feel even less confident. Plan to have your outline completed at least three days before the event. Practice your presentation-out loud- with your cats. You know that you already have THEIR support! Don't worry if the cats doze off. It's just a little tactic that they use to keep you humble.
Don't try to give all the details on every plan or solution that you can think of while you are making your points. Give a couple of examples and then say, "There are, of course, many other ways to work on this issue." and leave it at that. You can answer questions or ask for other suggestions from the audience later.
Don't have too much material and keep to the scheduled time.
Don't trail off at the end of the talk. Emphasize your main point again. Wrap it up cleanly and plan for a big finish. Then take a bow. You've earned it!
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