People sometimes joke with me saying that they can always tell when I’m going to preach because there is a stool on the platform. Perhaps two stools, maybe even three. Let’s just say that the humble stool has become a bit of a calling card for me.
So why the stool? Do I get so tired after such expressive hand gestures that I need to sit down and recover? Perhaps. But it’s about so much more than that. The stool is a communications tool, one that is well worth understanding and embracing.
Most people would be aware that body language is the most significant factor in effective communication with some studies suggesting that its contribution to a message is up to 85%. Body language includes a number of factors, most particularly eye contact, gestures, mouth expression, and position.
Position is where the stool comes in. Position sends a message to your audience about who has the power, and how much power that person has. Position, while often interpreted subconsciously, involves a number of factors including the environment, props and posture, which all contribute to a statement of power that must be taken into consideration if your public speaking is to be effective as both authoritative and relatable.
Listen for the power dynamics at play as we break down the things worth considering as a communicator: Read More…
The fear of public speaking (aka glossophobia) is one of the most regularly identified fears among humankind with many people ranking it of higher concern to them than the fear of death!
For the huge proportion of people who suffer from it, whether mild or severe, we know the signs and symptoms: increased heart rate, memory loss, moisture being absorbed from the mouth to magically reappear in the form of profusely sweating armpits. For me, it was that my hands would shake as if I was holding a jackhammer. At times it felt frustratingly irrational, my brain would look down at and scream, “STOP SHAKING!!” all to no avail.
Ah, but did you notice the subtle change in tense? WAS.
Yep, it’s time for a PSA because this is a topic that really needs to be tackled. You know it, and I know it, because we have all been to a party or wedding where the speeches given are either really awkward, boring, or before we can escape, take a form eerily similar to a marathon filibuster. My feet are getting sore at the thought…
The good news: it doesn’t need to be this way! Regardless of your experience, you can give an amazing, thoughtful and creative speech that will be appreciated by both the guests and those being celebrated.
First – 4 THINGS TO ALWAYS AVOID:
- Birth Stories – I have no idea why people (especially mums) feel inclined to share publicly the details of childbirth. Nobody wants to picture that. Nobody. Ever. For some reason birth stories have become a piece of staple content for significant birthday parties AND IT HAS TO STOP! Read More…
Tonight at church I did something really different. I actually can’t remember a time I when I have been so nervous (I’m talking days!) prior to sharing. Having been given the topic “How can a loving God send good people to hell?“, and a grand total of 5 minutes to share from the platform, the scene was primed for creativity.
So rather than preaching, I wrote and presented the message in a “spoken word” format while the graphic above progressively appeared behind me. It wasn’t just about communicating with a different style, but rather, with the limited time that I had, to share in a way that would prompt questions, invite people’s hearts to resonate with the imagery, and hopefully make a few key statements stick. The video can be found here, but for those interested here are the lyrics:
When I proposed to Megan I put everything on the line
in the hope that she would say, “Yes, you’re mine.”
Moments like these are stunning moments of love,
but it is still a choice, not a push or a shove.
As an aspiring communicator, one of the things that impressed me the most were those who were able to present an extensive amount of content with few or no notes at all. There was an air of confidence that was carried as they presented, as if the content flowed from them rather than being rehearsed concepts hurriedly penned on a slither of former tree.
Looking back, I recognize that this judgement was a little harsh, given that to write out a sermon fully may actually require more detailed work than the former! Nevertheless, my perception informed my interest and therefore the effectiveness of their message, and the same is true of the audiences that we share with today.
The assumption is often made when we witness preachers without notes is that the communicator has fully memorized their content – a highly impressive feat, which is often perceived as a skill reserved for those blessed with an eidetic memory. However, memorization of content is far more nuanced than regurgitating a formerly crafted and consumed meal, and is actually a skill highly attainable for those who choose to embrace it.
For this reason I want to tackle what I call “the myth of memorization” because preaching without notes is not classic rote memorization at all, but rather an understanding of your content and direction wrapped in a narrative.
So here are THREE KEYS to MEMORIZING your content:
1. Know what you ACTUALLY want to say. This sounds so obvious, but it is the one thing that many communicators forget to revisit. Often in preparation you begin with this question, but over the course of development it fades into the background until you have crafted a lot of great content, but have lost the core idea behind it all. Your goal should be to answer the question: “What do you actually want to say?” in one core statement, after all, when your listeners are asked by a friend what you spoke about, very few will honour you with (or remember) more than that. For example, in a recent message on the Parable of the Good Samaritan my core statement was: Love is a mission of dangerous proximity. That’s it, everything tied to this idea.