Monday, February 28, 2011

OK, I just have to ask ....

Why the news media actually reports on the inane rambling of Charlie Sheen when the world is absolutely falling into chaos?

The End of Beginning or the Beginning of the End: II Kings

I finished teaching the book of II Kings this week.  I prefer to teach the New Testament.  However, there are some treasures in the Old Testament narratives.     

Manasseh is the worst of all the kings of Judah and probably Israel.  His reign is the nail in the coffin.  There will be inevitable, irrevocable punishment, exile, and destruction.  He destroyed all the copies of the law (which is why his grandson Josiah is so shocked to find one during his reign).  Tradition says he sawed Isaiah in two (referenced in Hebrews 11).  However, the II Kings narrative says "the rest of his acts are recorded in II Chronicles."  If we look at Chronicles 33:10 we do get the Paul Harvey rest of the story.  I have to wonder if his repentance put off the destruction that came in 609 B.C.  When it says "he was led off by hooks," that is "hooks in his nose, an Assyrian specialty.  

Manasseh's son Amon reigns for two years.  Like Hezekiah, he had the not-so-rare privilege at that time of seeing his father sacrifice his brothers to Molech by burning the, probably alive.  Amon's short reign was relatively pointless, as he didn't choose to change the pattern of his father.  But his son Josiah did.

Josiah starts by doing the right thing.  He knew tradition but not the root of the tradition.  Until the priest, while cleaning out the temple, finds the root.  When he comes in contact with the root of the tradition, the real book of Deuteronomy, he has a radical experience and performs radical obedience, which only happens with an encounter with naked Scripture.  
     Josiah's s zeal is radical.  We are not in the position to burn down false places of worship, so let’s start with radical obedience in ourselves.  What would change if we were radically obedient in just area of our lives
o   It wouldn’t stop there
o   We would stop making excuse
March 9 is the start of Lent.  Lent is not about giving something up.  It is about preparing our hearts for Easter.  It is a 40-day period, which always means testing in the Bible (40 days in the ark, 40 years in wilderness, 40 days for Jesus tempted).  I think it gives us an opportunity to quietly, without making a big deal of it, say to God that in preparing for the most important Holy Day, we are going to not do something so that we can do something.  You can’t say no until you have said yes, to quote Rob Bell (who I will be addressing this week).  Last year I gave up Fox News.  And I have not watched it to the same extent since.  This year I have a plan to fast from Facebook.  
What is Josiah’s purpose in this narrative, since the destruction and judgment that were prophesied because of all the other kings’ sins (especially Josiah’s grandpa) isn’t going to change?  Babylon is still coming.  I believe Josiah led the people in a revival so that they would survive the captivity.  We want there to be a revival to save America.  Maybe there will be one.  Maybe instead there will be a revival within the church to prepare us for judgment that we will not be able to stave off. 

Josiah died in 609.  This is the same year that Babylon conquered the Assyrian Empire and took over for about 70 years.  This is the year that Daniel and Shadrack, Meshack and Abednego went to Babylon.  It marks the beginning of the 70 years of captivity that had been prophesied.  This is also the period of time when Jeremiah is staying with the people in Judah who are left.  There will be another deportation twelve years later and another in 586.  So this may be the beginning of the end for Judah, if you look at it one way.  

I prefer to think of it as the end of the beginning.  They are going to come back to the land two more times.  The message here is hope.  I heard a great quote on the radio the other day, a secular source, and I wish I could find it.  But he was explaining the difference between hope and optimism.  Optimism is when things are looking good.  Hope is when things look like they couldn’t possibly get any worse.

We have hope that American will go back to what it was.  That’s not Biblical hope. Biblical hope is not that the Republicans will win in 2012.  Biblical hope is that God will bring real justice to the world, whether here or in eternity, no matter how unjust things look now.

So what happens at the end of II Kings:  After Josiah, there are three more kings:  Jehoahaz, Jehoiakim, Jehoachin, the last real king.  Zedekiah is a puppet ruler but he rebels against  the king of Babylon, and then Gedaliah is put in charge. Jehoiachin is deported to Babylon but after many year is treated well.  

What happens then, the real rest of the story?  Daniel,  Ezra, and Nehemiah.   Christ.  1948.

Hope is what happens.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Hope Vs. Optimism

I found this interesting quote.  You have to draw a distinction between hope and optimism. Vaclav Havel put it well when he said “optimism” is the belief that things are going to turn out as you would like, as opposed to “hope,” which is when you are thoroughly convinced something is moral and right and just and therefore you fight regardless of the consequences. In that sense, I’m full of hope but in no way optimistic. Cornel West.


Another trait of spirituality is patience, or the ability to take things slowly.  How slowly?  As slowly as things need to be.

Additionally, a spiritual person has the physical world in its place.  A spiritual person knows the physical or material world is in a constant state of change, decay, and passing away.  But the material world is not evil.  It is good, only temporal.

Some may be wondering at this point, why don't you just refer to Ephesians 5 and leave it at that.  Because I am not writing about being filled by the Holy Spirit, or led by the Holy Spirit.  Such a person will of course be spiritual, but I am putting out there the idea that a person can be spiritual without being a Christian.  This may seem heresy to some readers.  I do not think so, because I am not saying a spiritual person will be accepted by God.  There are just some people in the world who are capable of seeing beyond the material world. Some of these people are disabled and do not experience the world like the rest of us.

Friday, February 25, 2011


A third trait of spirituality, I believe, is peace.  Peace is not the absence of turmoil (although that would be good enough. I don't think we realize how much turmoil we are in the midst of).  Peace is not relaxation or denial of trouble either. 
I went to a sort of mini-conference today and one of the speakers addressed stress, and even more, strain.  She took us through a relaxation exercise with soft voice, closed eyes, ocean waves and gull noises, and darkened lights.  It helped.  But that is not necessarily peace.  I was in a room full of driven women, and I don't know why we are so driven.  Maybe because the immediate surroundings don't meet our vision of perfect and we think we have to change it.  So we live without peace and actually choose against it.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Suggested blogs  This is from a young man who is spending six months in Brazil.  He is a member of our BCM at Dalton State.

This is my son's blog on the environment.   He is doing it as an internship with Pulitzer Center.  He has some interesting articles. 

Please check out both of these.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

What do We Think of This?

Spirituality: What is It?

In the previous post I wrote the being spiritual means to listen.  But the second, and equally important characteristic of spirituality is discernment.

Discernment is not the same as judgmentalism or a critical nature.  Discernment is "testing the spirits" as we are admonished in scriptures.  A person can be discerning and kind, discerning and tolerant (in the right sense), but also discerning and careful and wise.

Discernment means being able to see the root of something, whether it is an idea or an emotion.  Where does the belief have its origin?  What caused the person to feel that emotion.

A colleague and I were discussing our spring breaks.  She said she would see her mother-in-law--we discussed that, laughingly.  She said, "You know, I finally realized that when someone is rude to me, most of the time it has nothing to do with me.  It's a pre-existing condition for them."  So true.  Unfortunately, it is also often a permanent condition for them.  But why?  Discernment doesn't stop at identifying the condition, but realistically understanding the reason for it.

Public Speaking Series, #11: Rules about Delivery

Rules about delivery
1. Your speech starts the minute the audience can see you (and ends when you are no longer in their vision). The way you walk to the front of the class and the way you walk away from the lectern (the podium is a stage, by the way) is part of the overall package of your speech. It sets an impression if you walk up confidently and walk away as if you know you did well. It sets a different impression you look as if you are going to the guillotine and walk away as if you just had a root canal.

2. Don’t talk to anything except the audience. Eye contact, eye contact, eye contact.

3. Enthusiasm covers a multitude of problems. The old corny saying is “People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.” We expect a public speaker to be passionate and having conviction about what you are saying.

4. Practice. Practice. Practice.
 Standing up.
 In a room like the one where you will be presenting, if possible
 With an audience if possible
 With shoes on
 With your visual aids
 Make the practice as much like the real delivery as possible.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Spirituality--what is it?

I have been thinking about the word "spiritual."  It's one that gets used indiscriminately, like so many.  So what does it mean to be spiritual.

The first characteristic of being spiritual is to listen.  A spiritual person listens.  A spiritual person is quiet and pays attention and hears. 

Public Speaking Series #11

To continue with my "non-negotiables" of public speaking, here are a few more related to content:
1.  Hit the concrete. Use real-life, visible, specific examples and details.

2.  Don’t use words you don’t know or can’t pronounce. I know this seems like a funny one to put here, but it has two applications. If you 1aren’t 100% sure about the pronunciation and meaning of a word or term you are using, don’t use it. If you don’t know it, the audience probably won’t either. And if the audience doesn’t know the word, they won’t be sitting there thinking, “Wow, this speaker is so smart! I wish I could be smart like him!” No, they will be saying, “Why can’t this jerk use words everybody knows?”

3.  If it’s not funny to the audience, it’s not funny. (this one was alluded to in an earlier post but this is the complete thought on it.)  Humor is a great tool, but humor is also very personal, volatile, unpredictable, and potentially offensive. When in doubt about a joke, ask people (not your friends, but others, especially more serious people) if it’s funny and also whether it targets a specific group of people. A joke can be funny told by one person and not by another, so make sure you tell the joke; never read one. Not only should the joke be funny and well told, but it should have a point and be relevant to the topic or purpose and tone (or overall emotion) of the speech. Don’t tell jokes just to be telling them; they should have a connection to the purpose of your speech.
I know what you might be thinking, “Some people are just too sensitive and should learn to laugh at things.” But I would venture every one has some subjects they don’t think are laughable. Lately there’s been a brouhaha about the word “retarded.” Because my own younger brother is what we used to call mentally retarded, we were taught never to say that word as an insult, yet it’s become all the rage in the movies. Let’s grow up. Developmental disabilities are not funny. What you might say as a joke with your family or close friends is one thing; what’s appropriate in a speech is something else.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Public Speaking Series, #10

Remember the power of story. Story because stories are powerful and your most useful tool as a public speaker. People will always listen to a story. If you would like to watch some good videos right now and stop reading this lecture, go to You Tube and watch some of the videos of Patricia Fripp, such as this one Not only does she use stories in public speaking, but she talks about how to do it.

My first speech instructor, Dr. Steve Euler, said it best and I remember it after 37 years.  "Your ability to communicate is in direct proportion to your ability to tell a story."

Why Do Some People Only Respect Their Own Freedom of Speech?

Why do we hear so many of these kinds of stories but not many on conservatives who forbid free expression?  Of course, I know part of it is who's reporting, but the incident happened--it's not deniable.  How can anyone argue against the military when it is the military protecting their ability to protest in the first place?

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Public Speaking Series, #9: KISS

This of course means Keep It Simple (Student, not Stupid). It has two applications.
(1) Focus on one purpose. I will repeatedly say in this class: “Listening is not reading.” Everything must be simpler, more elegant, and direct in public speaking, since the audience’s listening skills determine the communication results. When it comes to your purpose statement, for example, it is best that it not have an “and” in it—that you have one purpose.
(2) The best visual aid is a simple visual aid. We will go into more detail on PowerPoint later, but this subrule is mostly related to that technology, since it (or other open-source presentation software) is the most logical way to go for visual aids other than the actual objects or just writing on a board (which is harder than it looks). PowerPoint allows you to do just about anything you want, but remember: Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should. Too many bells and whistles will not help your presentation. Visual aid means visual help, not the main attraction. To maintain the simplicity, slides should have One idea, statistical comparison, or image per visual. Furthermore, you want to obey the 7 X 7 rule, which means that you have no more than seven lines of text on the slide (including heading) and the longest line has seven words. Do not translate this as 49 words per slide maximum. You should have far fewer words than 49 on a slide. Limited colors and fonts. Different sources will suggest variations on this—only two fonts per slide, only three colors per slide. Of course, if your subject is lighthearted and fun, the rules about fonts and colors will be different, but simplicity is the rule.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Some Humor

Had a discussion today with colleague in the communication department in which I work; he is a comedian who studies humor academically.  He is of course very funny so even a serious discussion with him is pretty hilarious.  Humor is volatile in terms of public speaking, yet necessary.  Everyone should know his or her strengths in using humor in public speaking.  Jokes are not the only way to be funny.  Sometimes it is best to relate a funny, or appropriately quaint/cute story (children are always good for this) relevant to the topic of the speech.  I am not much for humor that is just being used to waste time or as unnecessary icebreakers.  However, even those have their place. 

What ultimately matters, though, is not if the speaker (you) think something is funny but whether your audience thinks it's funny, so this is my next non-negotiable rule of public speaking:  If it's not funny to the audience, it's not funny.

That being said, I heard a great line on Fox News tonight.  "Kim Jong Il turned 65 today, but he doesn't look a day over creepy."  (With accompanying photo to emphasize the point).  I am still laughing about it, although there is a part of me that says that little monster is not worthy of being laughed at.  He is as evil as Hitler, as far as I'm concerned. 

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

I Promise I Won't Write About My Dog

.....anymore after this.
Having a dog can be a way to have some spiritual lessons rehearsed for you.
1.  Our dog ran away as soon as we brought him home.  He came back after an hour.  I did pray for God to send him back.  I felt stupid praying for that.  However, in the Sermon on the Mount Jesus points out that God, in charge of the universe, cares about the fall of a sparrow, a tiny bird.  So it's not wrong to pray for everything, including the dog to come back (as long as we don't stupidly let him go again!).  That being said, I was thinking about how narrow our prayer life is.  We pray about our own concerns but not the world's.  So I feel silly praying about my dog when millions of people in Haiti suffer, and over 200,000 died.  Am I thinking God doesn't care about them?  Why do those things happen?  The floods in Pakistan, the tsunami in Indonesia?  It's good to be able to trust God about a personal problem, but the fault of Christian theology today is that personal problem, not the big picture and the needs of the world, are the focus of our faith. 
2.  When he came back, it was like the prodigal son.  I even ran into the house and got some roast beef lunch meat to coax him back.  (killed the fatted calf?)  The ability of dogs to find things is amazing, and he is a hound dog, essentially, with a great sense of smell (and a great desire to spray every thing he can find, thankfully outside).
3.  A dog must first learn to trust the owner before obedience can come.  Yes, we can get obedience out of fear, but trust is better.  What a lesson to remember.  In my former Christian life obedience was all; if trust was there, so much the better, but if not, obedience reigned.  Now I know (and the dog reminded me) that obedience without trust is not really obedience, and trust without obedience is not really trust. 
4.  Dogs are just plain cool.  I often say, God's three coolest animals are horses, elephants, and dogs.  Number four would be bears, but the first three get along much better with humans.  Dogs have their own kind of intelligence.  I know the dog just sees my husband and me as the master of pack, and I don't believe they have emotions.  But they have an amazing loyalty and pick our spirits up. 
5.  There is an old story, probably apocryphal, about how an old "native American" man explains spiritual living.  "I have two dogs that are fighting inside me."  Which one wins? he was asked.  "The one I feed."  There is some truth to that; we must feed our spiritual selves to expect readiness and victory in spiritual battles.  But ultimately the stronger side comes from grace, not our own efforts.

This is the end of my reflection on dogs.  All things considered, though, I'd rather have another child.

Public Speaking series, part 8

The best speeches are purpose-driven rather than topic-driven. The phrase “purpose-driven” was popularized in a recent book, so I’m using it here as a hook for attention and memory (always a good idea in an oral medium). We commonly think about speeches in terms of our topic, but I would like you to be outcome-driven—what do you want the audience to think, know, believe, or do when the speech is over? It’s not what you are talking about, but what you are trying to achieve, in the speech. Once you start thinking of your speech in terms of purpose and outcomes rather than topic, you will be able to focus much more and decide what is relevant or not in your speech. Purpose is largely based on audience and on contextual factors.

If you are early in your college education, outcome-orientation is something you should get used to.  Whether you are going into business, education, social work, or some other fields, the emphasis will not be what you do but whether you achieve what you are shooting for.  We would save a lot of hassle in life if that were our focus.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

New Addition to Family

Yesterday my husband and I adopted a dog.  We went to the Walker County Animal Shelter and a small beagle mix, male, 3-yr. old, tawny color caught my eye.  He grew on my husband.  He is attached to us and wants to sleep in our room (but of course on the floor), is house-trained, has not barked yet, and is not the friendliest dog in the world but will eventually come around.  Unfortunately, he ran off as soon as we got him home (our stupidity) but managed to find his way back from quite a distance away an hour or so later.  We know better now; he needs to be neutered so that might help the roaming. 
His name?  At the shelter it was Jumpy, which seemed more personality than activity, since his bag leg is slightly injured (it doesn't prevent his running away quite fast).  I don't like that name.  My husband likes Booboo, to which I am indifferent; however, that will probably win.  I took him out to walk this morning and he did his business, so I am happy about that. 

Thursday, February 10, 2011

I Wish I Had Written This--But I Didn't

Fascinating article at this link

Public Speaking Series, part 7

We have looked at some non-negotiable rules about context.  Now we will move on to rules about content.

The most effective speeches are the ones that answer the questions in the minds of the audience. If this series had a thesis sentence, here it is.  Good speakers scratch where the audience itches, information-wise.  As the Radio Shack ad said, You've got questions, we've got answers.

You might be shaking your head and thinking, what's the big wisdom in this?  And that's the point--your audience is asking questions, such as mentioned before, what's in it for me? and why is the speaker qualified to talk on this subject?  But there are others.  The ancient rhetoricians had long lists of them, basically ways to investigate the subject.  But the issue is what questions would your audience have?

You can decide on these questions two ways:  Ask the audience yourself, or look at audience characteristics and discern what the questions might be based on age, gender, background, occupation, socio-economic factors, family and marital status, education, etc.--and the most important, what do the audience members have in common?  and why are they here listening to me in the first place?

Tuesday, February 08, 2011

Public Speaking Series, #6

Being prepared means never having to say you’re sorry. Never apologize for being unprepared; we’ll know it anyway. The point of this rule is preparation. A good presentation takes much more preparation and practice than many novices realize. Let me give you a personal example: Last summer I was asked to give a five-minute speech at the local Kiwanis meeting (which was being held on campus that month) about the Teaching and Learning Center. So far, so good. I worked on it until the day before when I got a call from the person in charge of the meeting telling me that I was to speak on the School of Liberal Arts and the Teaching and Learning Center. Oh, no! Not only did I have to re-compose my remarks, but I had to practice, practice, practice: First, to be sure the speech was five minutes long, and second, to be sure it was articulate and perfect, because I am a public speaking teacher and I have a special burden. So I hid in a room on campus and went over the speech as many times as it took to know it was only five minutes yet didn’t leave out anybody who might be offended by being left out! (by the way, it went great!) My point is that I didn’t take it for granted that it was just a blurb and I didn’t need practice or preparation.

Sunday, February 06, 2011

Public speaking series #5

Don’t tell the audience what they already know. This is half of the definition of “boring.” We find a speech boring when we are hearing the same information we’ve heard before. The others half of “boring” takes place when the audience sees no connection between the information and their lives. People expect new information in a speech, not same-o-same-o. In fact, when we get into persuasion, we will see that the only persuasive information is new information, because listeners will have “assimilated” the information they have already heard—they will have filed it away and dealt with it in a way that it is no longer persuasive. Let me give you an example. You probably may know someone who smokes; perhaps you smoke. More than likely, the person who smokes has been told several times that smoking is bad for him or her, but the behavior continues. Whatever “information” he or she has heard that should have made the behavior stop, didn’t work. It’s been filed away, disregarded, refuted, etc. In order for the behavior to change, the person needs new information.

Friday, February 04, 2011

Number 500 and counting

I will take a break from my series on public speaking to mention that this is post #500.  It's hard to believe I have found that much to write about, although in some respects I may take a hiatus for Lent to focus on some book writing.  But in celebration of #500, I have some other observations that might do for a while.

I hope everyone reading this is aware of and praying for the people of Egypt, especially but of course not limited to the Christians of all persuasions, who are about a 10% minority and in potential danger of exile and great persecution if the wrong groups get in power.  I fear that Americans, and no less Christians, are ignorant of what's going on and would rather focus on the latest antics of some reality show personage.

I was supposed to take a group of seven students from the Baptist Collegiate Ministries to Haiti at the end of the month (our spring break) for a week.  We were going to work outside of the city with children and youth.  I had finally gotten myself excited about it and was ready to go, except for being under a great deal of time pressure and a little concerned about my stamina (having some asthma problems).  However, our campus minister called Wednesday to say all the trips were cancelled due to political unrest.  The State Department has advised Americans to stay away.

This situation has found me conflicted, and conflicted about being conflicted. 
1.  Perhaps in His sovereignty God knows it's best not for me to go; I have an elderly mother and mother-in-law and a husband who needs care, among lots of other responsibilities.  Not to be entrapped by those, but they are real.  Perhaps something would happen when I'm gone; perhaps something would happen with the young people.
2.  Why did I want to go in the first place?  Was it some kind of "evangelo-tourism", something I'm seeing an awful lot of under the guise of "short-term missions trips"?  Of course, Haiti is not exactly a place you think of when you think of tourism.  So why?  Something to do?  I felt they "needed me?"  (oh, good heavens)  To allow the students the opportunity to go?  To have people think, "Wow, she went to Haiti?"  I honestly have to think I wanted to go because it sounded cool and a way to serve.  I figured people were more likely to say, "You are a maniac for planning to go down there."
3.  And why do I think this is in any way about me, when the Christian and humanitarian workers down there are being victimized?  Good grief.

Issue #3:  The other day I went to the dentist for a cleaning.  Anyone who knows me knows I do not have the straightest teeth in the world.  That's an understatement.  In addition to one of my front teeth overlapping the other, I have a small mouth and big teeth that are too crowded, and the front teeth are cracked--although it's not noticeable unless you take a close picture and blow it up ten or fifteen times.  As my dentist did, because he does "aesthetic" dentistry.  Now, I realize the cracks are a problem and I will have to take care of that one of these days.  Maybe.  But the dentist and his assistant went where they probably shouldn't. 

They implied that I didn't smile enough because I was self-conscious of my teeth, and that I had poor self-esteem!  At first, because it's a principle of communication I live by, I considered this and saw there might be some truth to it, since I'm not the biggest smiler (or hugger) in the world.  But after the initial consideration, I rejected it and actually was pretty perturbed.  One, because he doesn't know if I smile or not, or am self-conscious about my teeth (which I've had 55 years and am pretty attached to), and two, it's a pretty big deal to imply someone has poor self-esteem.  If I do, it's not because of my teeth--I could think of lots other reasons.  Like all women, I have battled with self-acceptance all my life, but that is nothing new, and I really doubt some teeth implants would change that!

Secondly, I got the impression that this dental work with cost upwards of $5,000 or much more, and there is no way I would sink that much into my teeth until they just crack and break off, which is doubtful.  I can't justify that kind of money on vanity when there is so much more that it could be used for.  That's poor stewardship.  So now I'm seriously considering changing dentists.

I have really nice students this semester.  That is usually the case.  I like where I work very very much.
However, I got a memo from our VP today about the averages on teacher evaluations.  There are faculty in my department that actually get perfect scores on those things!  I don't see how that is possible, how every student in a class would rate any instructor perfectly on every category!  I average about 4.6 out of 5, which I think is pretty good, but not in my department.  So I really don't know what the problem is.  The students' comments are very positive, except that I may be too demanding, and some think they should get As on their speeches.  So this is a little bit of a downer,  My average is the departmental average.  Well, I guess I shouldn't think that's so bad.  But I'd like to think after 33 years that my teaching is a little bit better than average.

Public Speaking Series, Part 4

Up to this point I have posted three principles.  The fourth principle is that there are certain non-negotiable rules.  It doesn't matter when or where or why or to whom or about what you speak, these apply.  There are are rules about context, content, and delivery.
1. Rules about context
(a). Never exceed expected or given time limits. If you are given twenty minutes, you are given twenty minutes and should take eighteen, not twenty-five. Audiences are very perceptive about (and sensitive to) speakers going overtime. The old saying is “He who thinks by the inch and speaks by the yard should be dealt with by the foot.” As I read recently in an article on toasts at weddings, “no one has ever complained that a speech was too short.”

Wednesday, February 02, 2011

Public Speaking Series, Part 3

The audience is sovereign, or “king.” It’s all about the audience; say that over and over. Earlier in this lecture I said that the key job of a speech is to answer the questions in the minds of the audience. There are many questions they might be asking, but there are two that they are always asking. Your ability to engage your audience will depend on how you answer these two questions.
a. The egocentric question: Why should we, as audience members, care? What’s in it for me? (WIIFM)? How will this improve my life, my relationships, my budget, my career, my success, my education?
b. The credibility question: Why should we listen to you, the speaker? What are your credentials and background that make you smart enough to talk about this subject?

Yes, you can answer these questions, and you should do so early in the speech. You can answer them directly (good idea for the egocentric question) and indirectly (probably better for the credibility question, but not always). Your audience should be engaged because they see that the topic/purpose effects their lives, and they won’t even listen to you if they don’t think you’re competent and knowledgeable. Sometimes your credibility is already known, so you don’t have to address that, but you can reinforce it subtly with examples or stories from your own experience or credentials.

Public Speaking Online, Part IV

During the Web Speech             One of the helpful suggestions from the business writers used for this appendix ...