If you speak, preach, or communicate, this post is for you…
I have the pleasure of working with dozens of pastors, preachers, and communicators to help them refine their craft.
Mastering communication is not the goal. Maximizing your communicative ability is the target.
Maximizing our communication begins with understanding the art and science of communication.
To delineate these two sides, consider your message content the science and your presentation the art. In a way, this is precisely how communication feels. You experiment and test content to craft the perfect message journey and then present your creation to an audience in the gallery of a stage.
Art and science.
So, how do you feel about your communication? Do you think you’re maximizing your art and science?
Only Half Of Preachers Believe They’re Getting It Done
This headline on Barna’s site caught my attention: “49% of U.S. pastors say the preaching at their church is ‘strong’.”
Two quick observations before we continue.
- They asked pastors if they believed THEIR preaching was strong. I don’t know about you, but I’m the worst evaluator of myself. Asking pastors how they feel about their preaching seems like an odd sample.
- More alarming, only 49% of pastors believe their preaching is strong! That’s the worst part. If we surveyed the congregations in their churches, I suspect that number wouldn’t be higher. Odds are 49% is an exaggerated metric of success.
The question is, what should you do about this? How can pastors who feel they aren’t strong in the pulpit get stronger, and how can those who wrongfully evaluate their strength improve?
Perhaps We Should Ask Ourselves Better Evaluation Questions
When I coach communicators, I ask them to watch themselves and critique what they see. Watching yourself speak is a terrible exercise in humility. I’ve done this for some 20 years, and while it’s easier today than in the beginning, I’m still frustrated by some of my mannerisms and nuances.
When I meet with a pastor or speaker to evaluate their message, I begin with a simple yet clarifying question: What was the single point of your message?
I’m always perplexed with how few speakers can articulate the answer with clarity and simplicity.
Once we’ve established the answer to this fundamental question, we have our message “true north” and can move on. In light of the single point of your message:
- What truth or principle was your one point built upon?
- Why is your truth or principle essential and relevant to their life?
- What was the opening statement? Was it crafted with intention?
- How did you connect the crowd to the content and yourself through common ground?
- How and where did you specifically create a desire to lean in and learn more?
- What did you find interesting about this idea, and how did you create interest for the audience?
- How did your message drive to application rather than simple information?
- How well organized was the message journey? Was the path to the point clear and relatively easy to follow?
- What statements did you leverage to make this information and application memorable?
- What did you hope they would remember as you crafted your content?
- What do you suspect people will remember from your message?
- How did you intentionally leverage emotions to move the audience?
- What specific emotions did your message elicit? What emotions did you display during the communication?
- Did you bring the right energy to the content and the crowd? When did you have the most energy? When did you lose energy?
- How did you intentionally inspire the application as you ended your message?
- How did you address the obstacles and issues within your content and felt by the crowd?
- What distractions were present during your message? Did you contribute to the distractions?
- How do you suspect people changed based on what you communicated?
- Who was this message about, really?
- How did you transition your message journey from one idea to the next?
- How far in advance was your message written?
- How many times did you rehearse the message?
- How many versions did you create?
- How conversational was the message presentation? Did the message feel like a monologue or dialog?
- What speaking habits need to be improved? Examples: “ums,” “uhs,” “right.”
If we include our defining question, that’s 26 questions you should ask yourself as you evaluate your messages.
A Little Homework
If you’re up for it, watch your most recent communication and answer these 26 questions in light of what you see.
If you want to overachieve, as a few other people to do the same. Give them these questions and ask for unbiased feedback.
A Growth Opportunity and FREE E-Book
That Barna research has me perplexed. At a minimum, half of pastors don’t believe they are getting it done in the pulpit. I suspect if we could survey every congregation, we’d learn that number is much higher.
I don’t know how you feel about your communication, but if you’re not maximizing your ability, you’re leaving something on the table every time you stand in front of people.
So let me ask you one more question: What are you doing to get better? What are you doing to maximize your ability?
You need an answer. My 25 questions will help, but that’s insufficient alone. If you want to grow as a communicator, find a mentor. If you know someone great at communication, ask them to help you. Read some books or attend a conference.
- I created a course and masterclass experience on communication for this exact reason.
- I also spend time every week writing content with leaders and pastors, evaluating messages, and speaking myself.
- If you’d like to book me to speak at your church or business, you can do that here.
- Free E-Book: How To Speak Without Notes
If I can personally help you as a communicator, please don’t hesitate to ask. At every level, leadership eventually comes with a microphone. How you handle these communicative moments often determines the scale of your leadership.
A Few More Articles For You…
I often write (and coach/speak) on communication best practices. If you’re interested, the following articles may be helpful: