Tomorrow, for my Toastmasters meeting, I will be giving an invocation to our group of public speakers.  Have you ever written or spoken one of these?  It is a terrific way to tap into our best selves and reach for something higher than “let me survive today” thinking.

What Is An Invocation?

Pic of pencil and writing

How do you write an invocation?

Some people call this a euphemism for the word “prayer,” but I think it’s more than that.  When people are responsible for invocations in a public or business group, we’re challenged to say something “spiritual” without denomination entering the moment.

Another way to think of an invocation is to think in terms of an affirmation, but again, we do more than just generate self-affirming messages.

To me, then, an invocation is a short speech (usually less than a minute long) that acknowledges our community, inspires our best selves, and motivates us to be in an open, receptive frame of mind for the event that is about to begin.

Are there required phrases or elements to writing an invocation?

I don’t think so.  At least, in my limited experience, I haven’t noticed a consistent word choice or point to make.  People do tend to avoid some words in a nondenominational gathering–words like God, or Heavenly Father, or Buddha, or Mohamed.  No, let’s try to stay away from religious specifics unless we’re doing the invocation for a church/synagogue/mosque event.

Then, where do you start?

I have seen and heard several invocations start with a favorite quotation.  I personally like to draw from those quotations without necessarily reciting them word for word.  This gives you another opportunity for a collection–a collection of quotes that help you in your daily life will also be a great source of inspiration for an invocation.

For example, one of my favorite phrases is, “Today, you are somebody’s reason to smile.” How cool is that?  I might try to use it tomorrow as the closing to my invocation.  The theme of our day is “getting organized for the holidays,” so I’ll need to weave that thought into the invocation too.

And a quotation is a great way to both open or end your invocation

If I start tomorrow by reminding people that in this holiday season we’ll have our lists, our plans, and our social obligations. But we are the people, and this is our time, to make the traditions our children’s children will enjoy for years to come. Lastly, I can remind everyone that we are the reason for others to smile, and aren’t the holidays a great time to remember this?

What do you think?

Do you write affirmations, prayers, invocations or inspirational essays?  How do you approach this opportunity to connect with others, heart-to-heart?  I’d love to hear your suggestions and successes.

Wishing you an inspirational week.

Who Are You “Following?”

I went to an investment dinner last night. Hey, I’m always up for a free dinner and a listen to the high and mighty.  Around the room there were maybe 100 to 150 people from the Denver area, all with the same thing on their minds–“what’s with the stock market?”  Needless to say, five minutes into the talk I was searching for toothpicks to prop open my eyelids.  Guiltily I looked around, only to see several table mates in the same state of catatonia.  But did I mention there was free food for this?

Graphic of stock chart

Do they have “Investing with Training Wheels” talks?

The speaker did have graphics–little squiggly red and blue lines that made trails across a screen that was measured in feet instead of inches.  There were numbers and years dotted up the side and across the bottom.  Graphics. Hmm. I think I understand the term “death by PowerPoint” more and more.  And the free dinner was cold.

Midway through the main speech, I realized that the guy in the front of the room was enjoying his own jokes a little too much, and his numbers way too much.  I realized I was sitting smack dab in the middle of a blog about data. There wasn’t a goal on the speaker’s part to inform, entertain, or persuade–at least not that I could tell.  And I began to wonder perhaps, in my own blog, am I’m doing the same?

Bloggers, speakers, “thought leaders” have an obligation to get out of their content now and again, and look around.  Writing about navel fluff, exciting as it is, gets old.  And then I began to wonder–“are there readers for all of the writers out there?”  Am I following enough to have something of value to add to the conversations about mystery, the writing life, and promoting one’s writing to the world?

Here are some of the blogs I follow, but I have to admit I don’t read every post. In fact, I only dip in when something “grabs my attention”–unless, of course, an author is a friend who I count on to have something to say that makes me think a little, gives me a laugh, or tugs at my heart.  So many words, so little time:

Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers – This blog is for writers, about writing, and helpful hints about keeping a good writing (and rejection) attitude.  They post daily, so I read maybe one or two posts a week.

Reading Interrupted – Letizia writes short, thoughtful pieces that fill my soul like a good cuddle under the blanket on a cold winter morning.  She makes reading very exciting and I wish every English teacher from high school up would make her blog required reading.

Hey Look a Writer Fellow — Mike is fun, funny, and just plain entertaining whenever I get a chance to dip into his work.

Writer Site — Luanne has changed up the look and feel of her site since I first started following her, but this poet/writer is someone I’d like to get to know better.  And her site has a “Freshly Pressed” sticker on it–wonder what that’s all about.

Seth Godin — Okay, I threw that one in to say I’m part of the marketing hoards who follow his every thought.  Nice guy, shiny head, but he has so many followers I’m not sure I could add to the conversation at all. Okay. I’m jealous.  What does it take to be that one famous marketer?

This just scratches the surface–I don’t dip into Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, or Pinterest half enough. And don’t get me started on Yahoo loops.  The reads are always fun, but there’s this other thing I do that takes time too–I write. And I volunteer. And I watch squiggly lines on charts that help me know when to start packing for the poor house.  Did I mention the free food?

Hoping your week is filled with some good reads–hey, that would make a great name for a site–Goodreads. Hmm.