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How to tell your Compassion story

3 tips for overcoming the fear of public speaking from author and speaker Michele Cushatt.

how to overcome your fear of public speaking

Did you know public speaking is ranked number three among the top fears of adults in the UK? So, if speaking up on Compassion Sunday in front of your church or small group feels like a daunting prospect, don’t worry - you’re not alone and we’re cheering you on all the way.

We caught up with International speaker and mum-of-six Michele all the way from Denver, Colorado and asked her to share her tips on how to tell your Compassion story.

Why do you feel it’s important to speak up for children living in poverty?

Because Jesus did. It really is that simple. Jesus loved the children, advocated for them, and held them. If we don’t, who will?

Tell us about your Compassion sponsored children?

I have two! Stephanie is the first child we sponsored. She’s now 19 years old and shares a birthday with my third son who is 20. We were able to visit Stephanie in Haiti when our family travelled there for a mission trip in 2009.

how to overcome your fear of public speaking

Our second sponsor child is Vanessa from Peru, and we started to sponsor her a little more than a year ago. We haven’t been able to meet her yet, but hope to soon. More than anything, I pray that Stephanie and Vanessa will know that God sees them and he is always with them and he loves them more than they could possible imagine.

What is your top tip for sharing your Compassion story?

Tell your story! Be honest, real, and share your heart and experience. Simply let your friends and family know how partnering with Compassion has enriched your life and faith. That’s all it takes.

It’s not about perfect delivery; it’s about authenticity. Be yourself and let God’s love shine through you.

As a Compassion International Ambassador, you’ve spoken at various events. Do you ever get nervous, and if so, how do you overcome this?

When I first started public speaking, I’d get so nervous I thought I’d be sick! I was absolutely terrified of being in front of that many people. Although I still, at times, experience a mild case of anxiety before I speak, I’m no longer terrified or paralysed.

The three strategies that have helped me most are:

1. Reframe It. Rather than saying “I’m so nervous!” say “I’m so excited!” Simply changing how I view the situation changes how I experience it. Being able to deliver an encouraging message to a group of people is an opportunity to be enjoyed, not a trial to endure.

2. Breathe and move. Sounds silly, but when we’re nervous, we typically tighten up and forget to breathe. Reminding myself to move and breathe prepares me physically for what I’m about to do and minimises the stress on my brain and body.

3. Remember my ‘why’. In the absence of a conscious objective, a subconscious objective will take over. So I always, always remind myself of my objective. It’s not to impress the audience or make myself look good. I’m there to serve my audience with a message I believe in. Thus, my objective is the heart of my message, not myself. This takes the focus off me and puts it squarely on what matters most.

What encouragement would you give someone who has decided to step out and share the work of Compassion with their church, or friends and family for the first time?

Don’t worry about saying everything right or following a set of rules. Be yourself, and authentically share your heart as to why Compassion matters: to the child, to the sponsor and to you personally.

We’ve heard a lot about storytelling; we would love to know your Compassion story?

It was a few weeks before Christmas, and our entire family was caught up in all the drama and enthusiasm surrounding another holiday. My children couldn’t stop talking about what they wanted and how they dreamt of a tree bursting with presents. Although I smiled at their excitement, I couldn’t help but cringe at the excess. Our family already had so much, more than enough. The last thing we needed was more “stuff” to fill our house. That’s when I thought about Compassion, and decided to make a change. Simply, I told my family I didn’t want any more gifts. Instead, I asked them to sponsor a child with Compassion.

how to overcome your fear of public speaking

That was the gift I wanted more than anything else. It’s been twelve years, and that sponsored child, Stephanie, is now an adult. In the years since, I’ve sponsored another child, and have partnered with Compassion in numerous ways. “My life is different as a result of that one small investment. Without a doubt, that Christmas decision was one of the best I’ve ever made.”

We want to empower children to break free from poverty. Will you speak up this Compassion Sunday and share about the difference a sponsor can make? Because every time a sponsor is found for a child, a life has been changed. And you never know just what that child will go on to do. 

Change the world this Compassion Sunday


To find out more out Michele, read her blog or follow her on Twitter.

WORDS : Jennie Taylor

PHOTOS : Compassion UK



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