Recite or Relate

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Recite or Relate

by Carol Hamilton

Have you ever been to a piano recital and noticed the student who has all the technique mastered? Her fingers arched, back straight, she strokes each key with precision and doesn’t miss a note, yet she’s not feeling the music and neither does the audience. She plays the score without emotion.

Next a child pounces on the piano. She whirls through a simple song, missing a note here and there, but completely captivating the crowd. She feels the music in every cell. The tune reverberates from her soul. At times she’s lost in the melody and seems to forget anyone else exists. Rather than merely playing the notes on the page, she lives the music, allowing the audience to experience it with her.

My niece, Elle, as a nine-year-old actress, played the lead in a local dance production. In the previous two years she performed in several plays. Her poise and confidence improve with each one. She delivers her lines calmly, clearly, and with conviction.

Also in the show, another niece, twelve-year-old Haley Smith, danced in four numbers. Many of the girls on the stage got all the steps right. They moved to the correct spot at the appointed time, but most of them went through the motions, probably counting in their minds, some mouthing the numbers. But Haley danced. She flowed with grace and had me in tears. As she danced I felt lifted, ethereal, and encouraged.

Since Haley learned to toddle she’s been bouncing to music. My parents like to tell of her ability as a grade school student to switch the cable music station to a wide variety of genres. After listening for a few seconds, she would make up a dance to go with the music. She has a natural gift, but she enhances it with hours of heartfelt practice. Watching her on the stage in this performance, I could see how she took the choreographed steps and turned them into soul-felt dances. Because she put herself into the rhythm, with a genuine grin, my spirit buoyed and rose and I became a part of the music myself.

As speakers we have the same gamut of levels. Some speakers practice words and present them. Their facts often fall flat because they recite rather than relate. Graphs and research can be interesting, but how much more gripping if something personal is interspersed with the presentation. What has the speaker learned that will help the audience? What pertinent story can be woven into the details? When we include a piece of ourselves, spoken from the heart, with the intent of helping others, we can bring the audience into the speech, get them to feel the emotion, and bring them along with inspiration. When we share with depth something we believe, we move from reciting words to meaningful, memorable speaking, and the audience relates.

Carol Moesta Hamilton is from Western Pennsylvania. Her passion and delight is to speak and write to uplift women and teens reminding them of their strength in Jesus. For the past four years, she presented Bucketfillers for Life, Inc.  anti-bullying programs in schools, encouraging students and adults to choose to be kind. She also enjoys teaching writing workshops.

She is associated with National Speakers Association, Toastmasters International, St. Davids Christian Writers Association, American Christian Fiction Writers, Mission to the World Disaster Response Ministry and others.