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…
When I first started preaching I used to write out my notes fully. It was probably a good move, as no doubt I dodged a few bullets of “heresy” in the process. Yet what I have learned as I have become less and less dependent on notes over the years is that my communication has greatly improved in delivery and effectiveness, and that preaching without notes is a skill well worth learning.
The idea of preaching without notes is both attractive and intimidating. There is a natural delight in the idea of freedom and yet a fear that arises with the fateful thought, “What if I forget everything?!”
So the next couple of blog posts are going to be on this topic, not just thoughts, but also strategies and techniques, as well as dealing with some of the concerns, so I hope you find them helpful. Firstly, let me make a case for not using notes, or using minimal creative prompts when delivering a sermon.
Some BENEFITS of NOT using notes:
1. Your energy is directed toward your audience rather than:
a) into the lectern – for those who place their hands on either side of the lectern and lean down when they preach, I’m looking at you. It may be the classic “old fashioned preacher pose” but it is ineffective when it comes to engaging communication. All the energy goes through your hands and into the lectern. It’s also the same posture people use when they are scared on a roller-coaster.
b) into the floor – this might take you by surprise, but when you stand behind a lectern, your body will naturally gravitate backward to rest on your heels. It is subtle shift in balance, yet significantly redirects your energy away from your audience. Imagine you are giving someone a handshake while leaning away. Awkward right? That’s what the audience feels when your energy is directed into the floor.