This morning I had breakfast with a local Rotary Club in River Falls WI. I was invited to be part of the programming, and once again I was reminded that accepting these invitations are a real opportunity to connect with your community and promote Restorative Jusitce.
As a advocate or practioner, I recommend that you give it a go if invited to any service group. I’d like to share a few tips and examples for what I have found helpful. I think these things work, because I get very positve responses after speaking. My goal is always for one more invitation to follow or one more volunteer. After the tips, I’ll tell you a story that I recieved as a gift!
Tips for Effective Public Speaking –
1.) Be genuine. Speak from the heart to the group. Tell the truth about how you feel, sometimes I even get emotional or overwhelmed by what I share. This is heart centered work, and things that touch the heart often give it a little squeeze. I choke up when my heart gets a little squeeze.
For example this morning, I used a story that happened immediately, on my way to breakfast. I related how a Circle experience has a lasting impact. This morning I was running late, and considered ‘sneaking thru’ a red light. Then I remembered something someone said in a Circle last night. A young man talked about ‘integrity’, he selected that for his ‘value’ to be placed in the Circle center. He said that ‘integrity’ is not cheating yourself or anyone else. Even when no one is looking. He said if you are in the middle of a desert and there is a stop sign, you stop. Even if no one else is there. That had me put on the brakes, and take the red light this morning.
2.) Utilize the people around you. Relate to the audience. A local resturant owner was running the meeting. As I had my breakfast I thought of how to tie myself/Restorative Justice to him, which in turn would help me connect to the group. Feel free to use this example in your community!
I said that I was working on our Restorative Justice “elevator speech”, trying to explain it in 30 seconds or less. Then I got it down to a bumper sticker “Every Saint has a past, Every Sinner has a future”. Then I went on to explain “I just realized that Restorative Justice is just like the West Wind Buffet, and I hope Kevin will agree with me. ” Kevin’s the local Restaurant Owner. “You take what you like, leave the rest . . . but it’s all good!” I used a little emphasis on the “all good”. It was fun, the audience chuckled.
I was also able to tie together something mentioned in the opening devotion, about being connected. I ended my presentation with comments on how the 4 Rotary Questions support Restorative Justice. A good strong thank you close, is another tip.
I was the second to last person to leave. I chatted with everyone interested in learning about volunteering. I really encouraged someone to come help us out. He shared a story with me that cements with me a key concept of “why” to do Restorative Justice. He had someone come to him and ‘confess’, seek forgiveness for stealing from a Church, 20 years earlier. As a teen this person thought some items were metal and had value. He ended up ditching them under a bridge, but carring the shame, guilt and burden for 20 years. I thought it was a good story. People don’t forget when they have done wrong. Having a place (like a Circle Center) to put the story, helps you move on in life in a good way.
Embrace your speaking opportunities, work on your public speaking and shine your light in the world!
Peace – Kris