WITH each assignment in the school comes an opportunity to grow. Apply yourself conscientiously, and your advancement will gradually become manifest both to you and to others. (1 Tim. 4:15) The school will help you to develop your abilities more fully.
Are you nervous at the prospect of speaking before the congregation? This is normal, even if you have been enrolled in the school for some time. Certain things, however, can help to lessen your level of anxiety. At home, make it a habit to read aloud often. At congregation meetings, comment frequently, and if you are a publisher, participate regularly in the field service. This will give you experience in speaking before others. Additionally, prepare your student assignments well in advance, and practice delivering them aloud. Remember that you will be speaking before a friendly audience. Prior to giving any talk, pray to Jehovah. He gladly gives holy spirit to those of his servants who ask him.—Luke 11:13; Phil. 4:6, 7.
Be modest in your expectations. It takes time to gain experience as a speaker and to become an effective teacher. (Mic. 6:8) If you are newly enrolled in the school, do not expect to give a polished presentation right away. Rather, work on one point of speech counsel at a time. Study the section in this book that discusses it. If possible, do the exercise that is suggested there. This will give you experience in matters related to the point of counsel before you handle your assignment in the congregation. Progress will come.
How to Prepare a Reading Assignment
Preparation for public reading involves much more than simply being able to say the words in the assigned material. Endeavor to get a clear understanding of what the material means. As soon as you receive your assignment, read it over with that objective in mind. Try to understand the point of each sentence and the idea that is developed in each paragraph so that you will be able to convey the thoughts accurately and with proper feeling. Where possible, check a dictionary for correct pronunciation of unfamiliar words. Get to know the material well. Parents may need to help their young children do this.
Have you been assigned to read a portion of the Bible or possibly the paragraphs of an article in The Watchtower? If audiocassettes of that material are available in your language, it can be very helpful to listen to the reading and take note of such factors as pronunciation, phrasing, emphasis, and modulation. Then try to incorporate these qualities into your own reading.
When you begin to work on your assignment, be sure to study carefully the lesson that discusses the speech quality that you have been assigned. If possible, review it after you have practiced reading the assigned material aloud several times. Endeavor to apply that written counsel as fully as possible.
This training will serve you well in your ministry. As you engage in the field service, you have many opportunities to read to others. Since God’s Word has the power to change people’s lives, it is important that you read it well. (Heb. 4:12) Do not expect to master all aspects of effective reading with one or two assignments. To a Christian elder who had years of experience, the apostle Paul wrote: “Continue applying yourself to public reading.”—1 Tim. 4:13.
Working With a Subject and a Setting
When you receive an assignment on the school that involves working with a setting, how should you proceed?
Three main things need consideration: (1) your assigned subject, (2) your setting and the person with whom you will be speaking, and (3) the counsel point on which you have been assigned to work.
You need to gather material on your assigned subject. But before you go very far with that, think seriously about your setting as well as the person with whom you will speak, as these factors will have a bearing on the type of material that you will cover and the way that you will present it. What setting will you be using? Will you be demonstrating how to present the good news to someone you know? Or will you show what might happen when meeting an individual for the first time? Is the person older than you are or younger? What attitude might he have regarding the subject that you plan to discuss? How much does he likely know about it already? What objective do you hope to achieve as a result of your discussion? The answers to those questions will provide important guidelines with which to work.
Where will you find material on the subject that has been assigned? On pages 33 to 38 of this book, there is a discussion of “How to Do Research.” Read it, and then use the research tools that are available to you. In most cases you will quickly find more material than you can use. Read enough to become aware of the potential that is available. As you do that, however, keep in mind the setting that you are going to use for your presentation as well as the person with whom you will be speaking. Mark points that are suitable to use.
Before you organize your presentation and make the final selection of details, take time to read the discussion of the counsel point that you have been assigned. Application of that counsel is one of the main reasons for your assignment.
By covering your material in the time allotted, you will have the satisfaction of giving your conclusion, since a signal will be given when the assigned time is up. In our field ministry, however, timing is not always a factor. So as you prepare, take into account the amount of time available, but keep the emphasis on effective teaching.
A Word About Settings. Examine the suggestions on page 82, and select one that will be practical in your ministry and that will allow you to make realistic use of the assigned material. If you have been in the school for some time, view this as an opportunity to reach out and develop additional skills for your ministry.
If the Theocratic Ministry School overseer assigns the setting, accept the challenge. Most settings involve witnessing. If you have never witnessed under the circumstances described, get ideas by talking to publishers who have. If possible, try to discuss your assigned subject in a setting comparable to the one that you will use in the school. This will help you to achieve an important objective of your training.
When Delivery Is to Be in the Form of a Talk
If you are a male, you may be assigned to present a brief talk to the congregation. In preparing these talks, the basic points that need to be considered are similar to those already listed for student assignments in the form of demonstrations. The main differences are the audience and the format.
It is generally desirable to prepare your material so that everyone in the audience will benefit from it. Most of those present already know basic Bible truths. They may be well acquainted with the subject on which you have been assigned to speak. Take into account what they already know about your subject. Endeavor to benefit them in some way by your presentation. Ask yourself: ‘How can I use my subject to deepen my appreciation and that of my audience for Jehovah as a person? What is there in the material that will help us to discern God’s will? How can this material help us make sound decisions in the midst of a world that is dominated by fleshly desires?’ (Eph. 2:3) Satisfying answers to those questions require research. When using the Bible, endeavor to do more than simply read texts. Reason on the scriptures that you use, and show how these provide the basis for drawing conclusions. (Acts 17:2, 3) Do not try to cover too much. Present your material in such a way that it will be easy to remember.
Preparation should also include giving attention to your delivery. Do not minimize this. Practice giving your talk out loud. The effort you put into studying and applying counsel on the various speech qualities will contribute much to your progress. Whether you are a new speaker or one who is experienced, prepare well so that you can speak with conviction and feeling that are appropriate to your material. As you carry out each assignment in the school, keep in mind the objective of using your God-given gift of speech to honor Jehovah.—Ps. 150:6.