Brendan Ziegler
R&FS 110
J. Hanson

Evaluation of A Speaker

I chose to write my evaluation of a speaker on my former youth pastor Judah Smith.  I listened to a podcast he gave titled "so you will be my disciple".  As the title suggests, Judah spoke on being a disciple of Christ and what that means.  The audience that Judah is speaking to is middle school kids through university age students many of whom are regular attendees. 

From the very beginning Judah's energy is apparent.  He starts with a very intense voice and full of emotion.  He begins with reading scripture giving background on where his message is coming from.  This was a good attention getter and gave the audience a good understanding of the basis of Judah's message.  He reads at a good pace that is easy to follow and reading it out loud helps those who do not have a bible follow along as well. The ethos in this speech is incredible.  I am listening through my computer and I feel personally drawn into his speech and attached to his message.  His energy and passion for this topic are easily apparent in everything he says.  He uses many fluctuations in tone and volume that keep my interest and give a good feel for the intentions behind his words.

Judah incorporates a few stories giving personal interest and background in his message.  This creates a sense of authority and experience in this issue that give his words more support.  This is however a slight negative in his speech as he tends to get lost on his stories.  Too many times he ends up going off on tangents that do not explicitly relate to the topic and draw attention away from what he is saying.  He does however do a good job of bringing the speech back on topic and getting back on track.

Another positive incorporation that Judah uses is a reference to current pop culture.  For the audience he is speaking too this is a great way to relate to them and connect with them on a more personal level.  Judah is doing a very good job of involving the audience through asking questions and making sure they are all still "with him".  At times he defines words that some of the younger audience may not be away of helping them stay with him as well. 

Although Judah's energy is high, there are times where it reaches almost too high of a level.  It is very intense and despite his admission of his awareness of this, it makes me as a listener want to back off and prevents me from becoming as involved as I think I could.  At times he is flat out shouting and although this is good for moments and perhaps for his audience, the frequency and duration that it lasts can sometimes be overwhelming. 

Another issue I have with this speech is his flow.  He takes many long pauses and does not have a steady flow to the speech.  This is defensible because it appears he is mostly adlibbing all of this a better structured flow I think would go a long way in helping keep his ideas straight and his message clear.His conclusion is a very powerful one.  He is able to bring the message to a higher point by making it very personal and specific to each audience member.  It is very easy to feel as if he is speaking directly to me and only me.  This is a valuable attribute to have as a youth pastor.  As his speech is winding down his intensity level lowers making it much easier to follow and get into.  At times he even begins to whisper causing me to lean in and be sure I can hear.  This makes me think two things.  First Judah obviously has my attention as I am trying to hear him but also it is not good to speak so low that people struggle to hear what you are saying.  Especially in a conclusion where you are supposed to be climaxing your speech and bringing it all together to risk losing some of your audiences attention because they missed something you said is risky.

That being said, I think there are a few ways that Judah could improve on his speaking techniques.  First is to create a more even flow throughout the speech.  This will allow listeners to get in more a groove while listening to him and be able to soak in more of what he says.  The second thing is to keep his volume in check.  It is good to emphasize certain points by raising your voice but too many times I felt like I was being screamed at and I had to turn the volume down so it wouldn't hurt my ears.  The two best things I think Judah does well are relate to his audience on the emotional level, and break down the scriptures he is using to help the audience follow along with him.  Overall I thought it was a great speech and I will hopefully be able to learn from this speech to better my own speeches.