The world has been and will be shaped by effective communicators. Those who grow in their speaking abilities today will dramatically impact the world tomorrow. This is especially true concerning teachers and preachers in the Church, as we carry the message of the good news of the Gospel to transform individuals and society.
I have the privilege of speaking in front of hundreds of groups a year. It is one of my most important assignments. I have had to overcome many fears to feel comfortable speaking publicly. Many effective speakers struggled in their beginning season of public speaking but learned to overcome any apparent failure and ultimately became great influencers through clear, creative, and inspiring verbal presentations. You too can overcome and improve in this important area of life and influence.
We can all grow further in our public speaking skills. Below are five keys I’ve learned for effective teaching and preaching to help you do so. Even if you are not a teacher or preacher in the Church, these concepts will be beneficial to you in whatever setting you have the opportunity to speak:
- Share your own story – People don’t just want information; they want to know you. They want to understand how the ideas you are speaking about have worked in your own life (especially any challenges you may have had in implementing them). If the listeners perceive you to be real and authentic, their hearts will be drawn to your heart and you will begin to earn their trust.
- Share truth about the topic – Sharing our experiences will certainly help create a “bridge” and help our audiences to embrace the revelations we’re communicating, but giving the biblical basis for “why” and “how” questions in our message is necessary for people in the Church to accept our words. If we inadequately do this (especially with newer concepts for the listeners), then we create unnecessary roadblocks preventing people from receiving our message. Wise speakers anticipate why people may have challenges in receiving their message and proactively addresses those objections.
- Believe you are speaking to great people – Who we believe we are talking to greatly impacts the level of empowerment that comes through our message. If we believe the listeners are prone to do wrong, our choice of words will most likely bring feelings of guilt and condemnation. On the other hand, if we believe we are speaking to world-changers, then hope and confidence will be released.
- Identify and express your audience’s strengths – As we identify what is good in the individuals and the group we’re speaking to, and pursue God on how He sees them, we can help open our listeners’ eyes to what positive things are already at work in their lives. As we identify and express thanks for these things, it helps the listeners to know we are more concerned about them as people than ensuring they receive our revelations.
- Utilize the two “H’s”: humor and humility – When a group laughs, their listening defenses start to come down. Certainly, we need to choose wisely in what we have them laugh about, but great speakers know how to use humor to help connect with their audience. When this is combined with humility (i.e. sharing something like, “I’m still growing in these truths too,”), you create a powerful foundation for effective teaching and preaching.
There are many other truths we could share about how to improve our communication to groups, but I believe these five will help you connect with, inspire, and convince people of the great truths in Scripture and life that God is revealing to you.
ABOUT STEVE BACKLUND
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.