Mastering the Art of Communication: How to Leave Your Audience Wanting More

POINT OF THE POST...

Have you ever wondered what makes some speakers unforgettable while others fade into the background? Whether you're speaking to a room full of clients, teenagers, or congregants, the goal remains the same: to leave them wanting more. This post will help you do just that.

YOU GOT THE POSITION...
YOU'RE THE LEADER...
NOW WHAT?

When You Speak, What Do You Hope Happens?

I’ve been “public” speaking for over two decades. If we include talking to others, we’ve been public speakers most of our life.

In the marketplace, I hosted and conducted many client presentations (sales, updates, etc.). I began teaching middle schoolers in ministry and progressed to adults when I became a lead pastor. There’s nothing more humbling than speaking to a group of teens. Adults pretend to care even when they don’t. Teenagers just turn around and get on their phones.

Looking back on my many forms and places of communicating, I always had a goal. I didn’t always have a great process, but I always had an “end in mind.”

You do, too. Think about it for a moment. If you communicate on any level, what’s your goal? What do you hope happens during and, more importantly, after you speak?

Our Speaking Aim

In the marketplace, I wanted the client to purchase a product or service or to leave a presentation confident and excited about the progress we were making. I wanted people on the other side of me to feel valued and believe what they were getting was a great value from a person they valued.

I wanted something similar in ministry. I hoped people would hear the message and feel moved to apply it. Or consider using it in their lives.

On both sides, application was the goal. And that is still true for me today.

I wholeheartedly believe the point of every communication is application.

I teach this in my marketplace and ministry communication coaching sessions.

How can we best achieve this purpose? That’s a fundamental question we must all answer to achieve this goal.

Our Speaking Posture

I was recently reading the Book of Acts in the Bible. Whether you’re a marketplace leader or a non-Christian, hang out with me. What I read applies to us all.

Two rather important first-century guys in the movement of Christianity were speaking to a group of people about Jesus and their faith. After their sermon, the writer of Acts noted this:

“As Paul and Barnabas left the synagogue that day, the people begged them to speak about these things again the next week.”

‭‭Acts of the Apostles‬ ‭13‬:‭42‬ ‭NLT‬‬

This seemingly insignificant statement hit me between the eyes.

I grew up in a church family, and I’ve been attending church since I was born. I’ve heard a lot of sermons. I can’t say this unequivocally, but for the most part, I didn’t get the impression the pastors or speakers ever considered my “longing to come back again next week.” I certainly don’t remember “begging” to return next week.

It was as if they just assumed I’d come back next week. After all, our family were Christians, the church would be open for services, and that’s what people like us do. I mean, why wouldn’t we come back?

Perhaps pastors got away with this 30 and 40 years ago. This no longer works, though. I don’t think it’s ever worked well in the marketplace.

Our posture and process determine how our message is received and applied.

You already know this is true if you’re married (or dating). What you say is less important than how you say it.

How to Leave People Begging to Come Back For More

Every time I speak, I want people to leave begging for more. I want people to want to come back. I want people to want to hear more about the topic or idea.

I realize that’s quite a lofty target, but imagine for a moment if we could reach this goal.

In ministry…

I suspect enjoyment would rise. Application would increase. Participation would grow. And if bet attendance would be more consistent.

In the marketplace…

Marketplace communicators would experience a similar benefit. Your posture, tone, and presence dictate how you are perceived. You’re seeking to increase influence, and how you speak can increase your influence or decrease your relationship with customers, staff, and everyone in between.

Think about it. We all want to work with people we like and trust. We want to follow leaders worth following. We want to consider faith messages from people who seemingly care about us.

These are all posture conversations.

Here are 10 tips to help people beg to come back to listen to you more:

1. Connect Before You Communicate

Don’t just jump right into the “meat” of your message. People need to connect with you to connect with the content. I don’t mean you should take 5 minutes, but at least a few seconds. And “Good morning” or “I’m excited to be with you today” are terrible connections.

If you’re being introduced, skip the bio and give your introducer something you can use as a connection jumping-off point. For example, I just preached at a church in Indiana. It was my first time on the stage at this church, so I asked the lead pastor to say, “Gavin’s wife went to college in Evansville, Indiana, so during college, he drove up here every other weekend to visit. Last night at dinner, he was just grateful to fly this time!” This is silly, but it helped the crowd connect with me. And I could walk on stage and say, “Go Evansville Purple Aces!” People cheered, and off we went.

Partners of the Church Accelerator Community have access to my complete teaching course and all sorts of little, helpful tricks like this.

2. Create a Reason to Listen

Too many speakers assume people are interested because they are in the room. But just because you’re speaking doesn’t mean anyone is listening.

It’s the speaker’s job to create a reason to listen. Think of this as introducing tension or interest after your connection. Introduce a problem that must be solved or a mystery that needs to be resolved. Make sure you personalize this tension, too.

3. Never Make Yourself the Hero of Your Own Story

Sharing personal stories helps personalize you to the audience, but when your story places you as the hero or the one always “getting it right,” the audience may recoil.

Sharing stories is a great way to connect with the crowd and drive home a point. Work to share stories that show your humanity. If you are a hero in a story, communicate it with humility and authenticity.

4. Always Personalize the Problem

As I mentioned in number two, great messages resolve essential problems. What defines a problem’s importance is how personal it feels to the audience. People care about their problems, not just problems.

When you introduce the problem, be sure to paint the audience into the problem.

5. Inspire People to Consider Your Application

Communication is about application, not information. This is an oft-missed point in messages. Yet offering an application point isn’t enough.

To consider attempting an application, people need to believe that it is profitable and achievable. As the communicator, it’s your job to inspire your audience to apply your message to solve their problems.

When I teach workshops or courses on communication (like I do for churches in the Church Accelerator Community), the first module always covers the purpose of communication: The purpose of communication is to provide information that inspires application.

6. Address Obvious Obstacles

Any great communicator takes time to recognize the obstacles blocking the path to applying their message. When you’re working to craft your content, ask yourself, “What would keep people from embracing this solution or applying this idea?”

Sometimes, you can address an obstacle indirectly. However, it’s often helpful to call it out directly.

7. Say the Hard Stuff with Empathy

People can only tolerate so much. If you’re delivering a message of conviction, acknowledge the pain and show empathy. This is an important skill to develop. If you don’t learn to say hard stuff well, you’ll either 1) Skip the hard stuff or 2) Say it and turn everyone off.

One approach I use is, “Can I share something that might be a bit tough to hear?” Of course, this is rhetorical, but it prepares people to listen and lets them know that I know this is hard. I’ve also said, “I almost didn’t say this part because it makes me feel bad, but I think it’s important.”

Basically, you can say the hard stuff if you first acknowledge it’s hard and that you’re like them.

8. Take People on a Journey

There’s a reason we all love a great story—our brains are wired for stories. When you craft a message, create a narrative that leads people along a logical journey from where they are to where you want them to be.

I have already written extensively about this, and I offer a course and coach leaders on it, too. Again… all of the courses, workshops, and resources for churches are available to partners of the Church Accelerator Community

9. Understand Your Audience Before Speaking to the Audience

Studying who you’ll speak to is critical before speaking to them.

Before I speak anywhere, I ask the team or pastor about the audience. What are they like? Do they prefer to engage or sit back? Do they talk back? Is laughing normal?

I also watch a few messages from the leader or pastor to their audience when I can to get an even better feel for the style and approach the audience has come to embrace.

You should always be yourself on the stage, but you should also understand the room so you can adjust your approach to better match it.

10. Speak to the Whole Person

People need a logical path to follow a message. They also need to feel something as they journey with you. Logic keeps people from burning too many calories trying to follow you, while emotion keeps people interested in what you’re sharing.

With emotion, keep in mind there is an entire wheel to utilize. Happy, introspective, energetic, curious, thankful, hopeful, and joyful are all great emotions to bring to your message. Not all at once! And not even all in one message. My point is there are plenty of emotions to leverage, so don’t rely only on facts and logic.

The Posture Challenge

It’s never been more challenging to engage and maintain attention. The last thing people want is more information in our over-informed, over-entertained culture. As a communicator, it’s our job to bring people into something much better than a presentation. We have the opportunity to engage people in an experience. If done intentionally, we might find people coming back for more.

Last Thing…

If you found these tips helpful, consider sharing this post with others in your network who could benefit from mastering the art of communication. Together, we can all become more effective communicators, leaving our audiences wanting more.

Thanks,

GET THE BOOK AND BONUS MATERIALS