How do you prepare for speaking in front of different types of audiences?

Hi Alycia! Your biography says you have spoken in lots of diverse places. I’m wondering, how do you prepare for speaking in front of different crowds, like universities compared to prisons? Have you found that regardless of the venue, people ask about the same questions, or do particular types of speeches tend to resonate with particular crowds? Thanks!!!

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Hi @Olivia_Davis!

The question you ask is a good one. I have often quipped that, “Apologists are just Theologians who are good communicators”. What I mean by that is that we as people are skilled in a variety of ways. Some are able to spend hours in the rigors of study, others are able to spend hours laboring over the words to write in a particular book or piece etc. But being able to communicate well what you learn I think is important to the Apologist. It’s one thing to know material or information, it is another thing to be able explain it to another person.

Why did I go through all that? Because your question is an important one for those reasons. Doing your best to get to know your audience ahead of time helps you to be a better communicator. When you know the questions that people are asking, you will communicate the information differently. In other words, while you may be speaking on the same topic in two different places, your angle or approach may change based on the location. For example, when you speak at many prestigious Universities, the students are often looking for you to engage with the head as well as the heart. When speaking there, you want to make sure you can provide rational reasons for Christianity when you are speaking of its relevance to the individual. However, when I spoke in rural Iowa a few years back, the pastor specifically asked me not to take the head approach as that is not where his congregation is at. Rather, they needed someone to speak to the heart. When I go to India, a society where many beliefs are accepted as true, I focus on demonstrating what makes Christianity separate and distinct from the rest.

So, when I am asked to speak at a venue, I always speak to the host. I want to do my best to understand where they are coming from, and about their expected audience. That helps me better prepare and better reach and connect with the audience.

In regards to what kind of questions people are asking, many are the same, no matter where I am. While questions may differ initially in terms of specifics, they tend to be more broad in topic. For example, popular questions now are, God of the OT, the hiddenness of God, and Why would a loving God send people to hell? While they are specific in the way they are asked, they all share a common thread- Is the Character of God in Christianity really good?

Finally, I think the younger the crowd, the more they are interested in evidence and rationality. They aren’t going to believe just because someone says it, they need more. And that’s fair. The younger generation is quite educated and is encouraged to approach their subject of study such as, mathematics, science, computer, medical fields etc. with an intellectual and academic approach. Why should they be asked to abandon that when it comes to Christianity?

Hope that helps!
@Alycia_Wood

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This is exactly what I needed! Thank you so much for clarifying this for me! I feel like I have a perfectly fresh perspective now on how to approach all people. Thank you so much for your very thorough and thoughtful answer!

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