We chose to sleep in, expecting it would be a pretty stuffy affair and knowing we could catch all the highlights online. Luckily, we were able to watch the sermon delivered by The Most Reverend Bishop Michael Curry, presiding bishop of the Episcopal Church.
It’s hard to think of a more daunting task than speaking from that lectern on the other side of the pond on that day, trying to connect with big-hatted guests in that gigantic high-ceilinged room complete with echoes of kings, queens, princes and princesses of past, present and future, not to mention a global audience of millions.
Yet Reverend Curry stepped up with an animated, powerful, dramatic and poignant sermon about the power of love. You could hear the passion in his vocal variety, you could sense his conviction in the words he spoke, and you could see his energy in his broad gestures and purposeful movements. This presentation should instantly become required viewing for anyone seeking to become a more inspirational speaker.
Do you ever wonder how to make eye contact when your audience isn’t all facing you? Watch how Reverend Curry worked the room, practically twisting his head from one side to the other so he could engage all of the wedding guests. Do you have trouble figuring out what to do with your hands? See how Curry successfully used many kinds of gestures, holding his arms wide open toward the congregation with his palms out, clenching his hands into fists, lifting them high in the air, and then holding them upright in front of his face, palms facing each other.
There were other great presentation take-aways from Rev. Curry’s sermon. Watch it on YouTube and hear how he preaches, repeating the phrase “power of love” while varying his tone and volume. Listen to how he speeds up and then slows down, how his voice rises to fill the room as he repeatedly shouts the word “EVERYTHING!” before pausing for a moment and then reducing his voice to an engaging whisper.
And he was even willing to move off his script, at one point reminding himself—and us—that it was time for him to wrap up because “we have to get y’all married!” For 14 minutes, he employed every one of the Fundamentals of Public Speaking to perfection, and engaged us from beginning to end.
Curry admitted he’s accustomed to more interaction from the congregation than he received in Windsor, but sometimes you just have to act as if you’re getting the reaction you want. As he said during an interview on the Today Show, “Episcopalians aren’t known for being loud and ruckus in church, but I’ve learned to be able to hear an Amen by looking in their eyes. I was looking in the eyes of people who were there and they were doing quiet British Amens.”