Speak Teen SPEAK!

Leneita Fix —  August 2, 2013 — Leave a comment


In our ministry we have a rule.  No cell phones in use while the students are present and our programming is in action.  This rule goes for volunteers, staff and participants.  Unless you are using a “Bible App” to look up scripture, we shouldn’t see it,  and yes I check it.   This summer as we have had a number of our teens actually volunteering in our elementary age day camps I have seen something interesting.  At 2:00 the moment program ends and the last child walks out the door,  cell phones immediately emerge!  It’s like the texting/social media/ smart phone zombie apocalypse has taken root.  Heads are down, eyes ablaze as they catch up on all the pertinent information they have “missed” in the last 4 hours of “no phone zone.”

As I have text to talked or been FB direct messaged on major life issues I just have to wonder if scripting every thought is an easier way to go?  Since TONE doesn’t exist well in word/online communication a lot of drama erupts that could be avoided with at least a phone conversation and even more so with facial expressions and body language in play.   In short, I think we need to encourage students to learn how to sit down and use their voice once again.

Please hear me.  I am not anti-text/social media connections.  What I am seeing is that this the “goto” method of “talking.” I wonder if we are raising a generation that avoids face to face communication? Have they forgotten how to speak?

Can we do anything about that?  Here are some starting places:

  • Meet With Students One on One:

When I started in youth min, my mentor would say,  “If you want to get to know a kid take them out for a soda.”  What we did or drank was arbitrary.  The point was being present with each other.  Sit face to face, make eye contact and talk about deep issues,  outside of programming.  If at all possible draw in other adults and small group leaders to do the same.  Begin to teach, that this is the way we handle the “toughest stuff.”  It’s unscripted, raw, messy and uncomfortable.  That’s good.

  • Encourage Parents To Draw Lines.

I get it. The battle for independence with anyone from 6-12 grade is constant.  It’s also part of adolescence.  We drew up “electronic contracts” for our kids that not only included appropriate use, but times when cell phones are not “allowed.”   This has helped tremendously.

  • Be a good example:

I admit it,  I can be the worse at this one I was convicted even recently about how if I want to teach students the importance of communication beyond written form and the need to put the cell phone aside when talking to someone,  I have to step up and do the same.

Students need to learn to have a full conversation,  face to face conversation when they are totally present.  There is a place for tweets, Facebook, email and text, it just shouldn’t be the ONLY way we talk to each other.

What are YOU doing to help this generation learn the art of “in person” communication?




Loved learning from Duffy Robbins last week at a Speaking to Teenagers seminar we hosted at our church last week. It was incredible, here’s a little clip from their seminar, be sure to check out their official website to bring them to your area, too!

1. When not gesturing, park your hands some place that isn’t distracting (your pockets, the sides of your chair, or the edges of the podium).

2. Keep your gestures high up on your body frame. You don’t want the audience to have to choose between looking at you (your eyes and your face) or looking at your gesture. I usually stage my gestures about six to eight inches in front of my chin. To look at my gestures, you have to look at my face.

3. Match the breadth of your gestures to the size of your audience. A larger audience might mean more exaggerated gestures; a smaller audience allows for conversational gestures.

4. Time the gesture so that it best serves your point. Pounding the pulpit 10 seconds after the preacher has made his point leaves the audience either confused about the preacher’s intent or concerned about his reflexes. Neither response enhances the message.

5. Give your gestures a firm end point. Imagine that a gesture leaves a mark in the air (e.g., a vapor trail). There should be an obvious beginning point and an obvious end point. That helps define the gesture, and it aids the audience in interpreting its meaning.

6. Don’t overlook the power of stance. Pulling your chair closer to the circle, moving closer to the group, stepping over to one side near that kid who is detonating his underwear, even the way the feet are positioned if you’re standing: all of these help to communicate focus, boldness, intensity, importance.

Be attentive to how your whole body communicates. Let them hear your body talk.