Monday, January 12, 2009

"All right, Mr. DeMille, I'm ready for my close-up."

By the time of your MFC interview, you may feel a little crazed like Nora Desmond, the character who spoke the above line in the movie Sunset Boulevard.

Many people take umbrage at the thought of an interview being a performance, especially an interview for the ministry. After all, is the ministry about authenticity? Aren't you supposed to bring your true self to the interview and be evaluated on who you really are?

However, there are two meanings of "performance." Sometimes we use the word in reference to pretending, or even deceiving. The actor pretends to be someone else. The con man (con person?) intends to deceive. Yet we also talk about how well someone performed in the Olympics or what a wonderful performance the orchestra gave last night.

It is in this latter sense of performance that I'm using the word here. Sermons and interviews are performances. I am not encouraging deception or even pretense, but I am encouraging as with a good performance, and practice, practice, practice.

In the performance of an interview, body language and tone of voice are as important or even more important than words and their meanings. "Ministerial presence" may be found more in appearance and tone than in content.

Knowing this, it is important to have your mock interview videorecorded. If you can, have two cameras -- one on you and one on the panel. While it is inappropriate to video the panel's deliberations, record the sermon, the interview, and the feedback you receive after the panel finishes deliberating.

Then make this recording your favorite TV program. Pay careful attention to your posture, facial expression, body language, timing, and tone of voice as you view the video. Many of us find that our internal impression of how we did can vary dramatically from what's on the screen. Also, it's often difficult to absorb a lot of feedback at once. Watching the video several times and/or watching it and pausing it for reflection can help one absorb the feedback and make adjustments in one's performance.

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