First, a quick update about my blog posts. Beginning this week, I am changing the schedule to Monday, Wednesday, and Friday—with Wednesday being “Wednesday Words” posts. As I read books, I take brief notes on significant quotes, ideas, etc., that challenge or inform me. Each week, I am going to post one of those insights on Wednesday. Because I already keep a record of these thoughts, posting them for my readers will add little work to my schedule. My goal is to offer you something that encourages faithful living in a crazy world and that will also help you prepare to preach and teach each week if you have those responsibilities.
This past week, I read a Harvard Business Review “Management Tip of the Day” about making presentations stand out. Modified from a HBR publication entitled, “What the Best Presenters Do Differently,” these tips can also be helpful for those who teach and preach the Word. Obviously, teaching the Word is decidedly different and much more significant than any other teaching we do, but still we can learn. Here are the tips, followed by my comments in relation to the Word:
- “Craft a narrative.” That is, tell the story well. Draw your hearers in by taking them into the story. Tie the stories clearly into the overarching story of redemption in the Word, and lead listeners to respond appropriately to what they learn through the story. Even expository preaching–to which I am committed–can be stronger when we tell the stories well.
- “Pair your text with images.” According to HBR, listeners will recall about 10% of our message if they simply hear information. If they hear information and see a picture, they’ll recall 65%. Help your hearers experience the story with their senses as you exposit the biblical truth in the text.
- “Humanize data.” If you use statistics and other data, make sure you put the data into context. Do your best to help your listeners know why you’ve included it—don’t just dump data for sermon filler.
- “Surprise your audience.” Admittedly, this tip’s the most difficult one to apply in teaching and preaching the Word. Of course, the gracious “surprise” of the gospel story is that God chooses to save sinners in the first place. Perhaps we need to be filled again with wonder over the story—and let passionate, zealous, holy proclamation of the Word offer hope that surprises a dying and lost world.
- “Rehearse—out loud.” I tend to speak quietly (sometimes in a whisper depending on where I’m rehearsing), but it is indeed helpful to me to work through a practice presentation. On one hand, rehearsing allows me to drill the Word into my heart more. On the other hand, it allows me to ask God to bless each part of the sermon along the way. Rehearsing thus becomes dialogue with God for me.
Which of these ideas might be helpful to you?