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Helpful Friends

I have a friend who goes to our church.  James is a professional executive who has experienced great success in corporate America.  He is also the leader of a local Toast Masters club where people learn how to improve their public speaking.  He recently sent me an email that I found interesting on many levels, so I thought I would share it here and make a few observations with my readers.

Hey Josh

Hope all is well!

When we met last month for lunch, you asked me to send you my thoughts on your “speaking mechanics” that might help you bring your speaking to the next level.

Well, I’ve been silent these last few weeks b/c you’ve been on fire dude! The Royalty series and the opener for Uprising were incredible.  Keep it up!

One thing I did want to ask, however, is related to your voice…particularly, what are you doing to protect it?

I’ve noticed the last couple weeks that by the end of the sermon (I attend the 9:30), you’ve been getting very hoarse.  You have high energy when speaking utilizing a wide range of vocal variety…this is a good thing…however, you’re delivering that sermon twice per week, and a practice version mid-week at least once (sometimes more)…plus the Bible study that you do on Sunday nights as well as other non-Southern Hills speaking engagements you may be involved with during the week.

That’s a ton of “performance speaking” in addition to the counseling and business/ops meetings you’re involved with at the church which all require you to speak!  Your instrument (voice) needs rest…without your voice, you’re going to have a tough time preaching!  This will become more and more of an issue as you get older.

Some things to consider:

  • Make sure you are well hydrated…half your body weight in ounces of water every day.  That may sound crazy but your body will adjust and you’ll feel great.
  • Think about sleeping with a humidifier in your bedroom
  • Make sure you’re getting vocal rest throughout the week.  Designate certain times during the day or week where you purposely refrain from speaking.
  • There’s a tea called “Throat Coat” that speakers and voice actors use.  I’ve heard great things about it but I’ve never tried it myself.

I hope this is helpful…I’ll keep my eyes and ears open and will let you know if I think of anything else.

Love you man!


I loved receiving this email for several obvious reasons:

He was Complementary

As they say, you can draw more flies with honey than vinegar.  Do you truly want to help someone grow, change, or advance to the next level?  Then attempt to use the sandwich method (complement/critique/complement) used brilliantly by my friend James.  Upon hearing a word of positivity my defenses were immediately lowered and I wanted to hear what James had to say next.  After all, a typical person would reason, he clearly likes me and what I’m doing.

The harsh person may mock this with a bit of sarcasm hinting at the weakness of the modern man or the value of strait talk.  But nobody ever listens to the harsh person.  Her voice is rarely heard and never heeded.

He was Concerned

His concern was for me.  As a human I am compelled to listen to someone’s advise if he seems genuinely concerned about my schedule, workload, future, and health.  If someone believes your counsel, sermon, advice, invitation or sales pitch is selfishly motivated they are much less likely to listen.

This is why it’s difficult to trust the army recruiter who outlines the benefits of enlistment, the car salesman who describes the torque in the newest model, or the pastor who presents the advantages of tithing.  When motives are suspect advice is rejected.

Three things assured me that James’ motives were selfless.  Besides our established relationship, and his altruistic nature, James went out of his way to assure me that he was aware of my needs, concerns, and schedule.  By the time he got to his advice I wanted to take it – because I knew that he had my best interest at heart.

He was Clear

He didn’t just present a problem but offered a solution, several.  Hydration, humidifier, rest, and tea quickly went on my to-do list.  I didn’t have to spend hours attempting to research better ways of caring for my voice.  He swiftly outlined a few ideas he has learned and knew would be helpful.

Are you attempting to help someone?  Will you soon be explaining a new product?  Are you trying to get your child to see the importance of algebra?  Are you attempting to share your faith and invite someone to church?  Are you about to preach a sermon?

I’d suggest you follow the outline laid out in my friend’s letter to me.  Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to go find another bottle of water.

What other lessons have you learned when attempting to help someone?

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1 Comment

  • Reply
    Scott D
    June 2, 2017 at 8:48 pm

    What a helpful post on two levels: James’ advice was great and Josh’s comments about what made for an effective email were very instructive. Thanks for taking the time to minister through writing.

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