Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Remaking the sermon: The School of Life's in session


Barbara Ehrenreich - On Optimism from The School of Life on Vimeo.

A monthly series of "secular sermons" launches again this month in London, where the School of Life mimics the form of sermons, with a public-speaking set of twists. The New York Times notes:
Each sermon features twists on the conventional church service, including a Sunday-morning starting time and singing by the congregation (recent selections have included tunes by Nina Simone, Jane’s Addiction and “Weird Al” Yankovic). Attendees are greeted at the door by a strikingly tall devil, and are encouraged to mingle afterward with their fellow parishioners, discussing the sermon over tea and snacks. But the heart of each Sunday’s event — and the key information that an attendee can leave with and ponder — depends on the speaker delivering the sermon.
Thus, in the video above, author Barbara Ehrenreich, whose topic warns of the dangers of optimism, was preceded by the audience singing "Accentuate the Positive." (Nice way to get the audience another data point to consider about the topic, and get them warmed up and engaged, by the way.) Check out more videos of these unconventional sermons here, on topics ranging from uncertainty to punctuality.  Would you try this kind of unconventional format for your next talk?

Want more? Sign up for the free monthly newsletter, Step Up Your Speaking, which focuses on one speaking skill or issue each month. Then join The Eloquent Woman on Facebook, a vibrant community that gets to discuss these topics before they appear on the blog; or contact me about your public speaking training and coaching needs. Most of the popular articles listed here started as threads on the Facebook page. Thanks for reading and participating!