“Like apples of gold in settings of silver is a word spoken in right circumstances” (Proverbs 25:11).
“Gracious words are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones” (Proverbs 16:24).
“Now when they heard this, they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, ‘Men and brethren, what shall we do?’” (Acts 2:37).
“Death and life are in the power of the tongue” (Proverbs 18:21).
I recently taught a group on teaching and preaching in a church setting, and shared 10 keys. As I released these, I realized they are truths not just for speaking settings, but they are principles of wisdom for life-giving communication in areas like family, friendships, and teams. Though the language I use in this blog is focused on speaking to groups, I believe you will be equipped and inspired to improve your speaking skills to everyone in your life.
Here are the ten keys for life-giving communication:
Believe you are talking to great people – “Out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks” (Matthew 12:34). How we see who we are talking to will determine how life-giving (or non-life-giving) our words are. What we believe about the people we are speaking to is usually more important than what we say. People tend to rise to the level of the beliefs of the important people in their lives.
Understand the variety of types of people who will be listening – Here are the types of people who could be listening: a single mom, someone in a season of great blessing and increase, the struggling, the newly saved, a teenager, a visitor, etc. As we consider if our message and choice of words will relate to them, we will have an upgrade in our message.
Connect with, honor, and thank those who have gone before you – When we seek to understand and to appreciate what has already happened (before we seek to be understood and appreciated), we will go to a higher level in connectivity and influence. People and groups want and need to be known and seen. When speakers acknowledge the strengths and sacrifices made of the people they are addressing, it builds confidence in the one speaking.
Partner well with the service leader – It is an incredible honor to be asked to speak to a church group or organization. You have been trusted to do what few others are entrusted to do. One way to honor the ministry or group is to understand how long you have to speak, how they would like to close, and if there are any cultural do’s and don’ts to be aware of.
Use humor – When a group laughs together, there is a bond established. Be careful, though, to not use coarse jokes or humor at the expense of another person or group.
Determine how you want your audience to feel at the end of your message – Great speakers don’t just give knowledge or wisdom, but they cause a positive emotional response to what is said.
Understand these three keys to increase favor for your message – 1) use ample Scripture, 2) share struggles you had in embracing the truths you are sharing (authenticity will connect your heart to people and give hope to them), and 3) share what you are not saying (i.e. “I am not saying we should laugh all the time . . . “).
Decide what to share – Get a good process in decision making and then attach faith to your decision.
Tell them more who they are than what to do – Focus more on what Jesus has done than what they need to do Don’t overuse words like “you must,” “you need to,” “you have to,” and “I encourage you.” As we emphasize people’s biblical identity, then we will be demolishing the strongholds of self-limiting beliefs.
Avoid distractions in your messages: talking too fast, using a monotone voice, using filler words (um, you know, etc.), not having good eye contact with the people, and poor grooming.
Great communicators are very intentional in what they do and don’t do when they speak. Even though possessing skill and confidence in speaking does not usually happen overnight, it is something we can grow into. Others will be glad we did.
For more on topics like this, listen to my podcast by clicking the link below.
Steve Backlund was a senior pastor for seventeen years before joining the team at Bethel Church in Redding, CA in 2008. Steve is a leader developer, joy activist, a revivalist teacher, and as Senior Associate Director, is a key part of the Global Legacy (a ministry of Bethel Church) leadership team. He travels extensively throughout the world encouraging churches and leaders and has authored a number of books.