I remember one of my first teaching experiences like it was yesterday.
I was speaking at Riverside Community Church in Bulverde, TX, and the church asked me to do something that I’d never done before...
They asked me to give my sermon to their staff three days before I was scheduled to preach . Their mindset behind this request was simple: If he can talk to three people, he can talk to 3,000.
That day was a milestone moment for me. The feedback I received and the opportunity to speak to such an intimate crowd set me on a path that would change my speaking style, and life, forever.
Since that experience in Bulverde, I’ve been fortunate enough to speak in hundreds of churches and schools across the United States. I also get the opportunity to lead our team of communicators here at Team Impact.
There are 5 methods that I teach when I’m training a young communicator on our team. They’ve been extremely effective for us, and I know they will help your young communicators as well...
1) The 3 Sentence Rule
At Team Impact, young communicators aren’t ready to take a microphone until they’re able to summarize their message in three sentences. These sentences must clearly communicate the “if you don’t hear anything else, hear this” of their talk.
Why three sentences? Because this forces the young communicator to eliminate the fluff and be crystal clear on what is most important. It also helps a young communicator remember what it is he/she came to say, and not get distracted by rabbit trails or unruly audience members.
2) Speak, Record, Critique, Repeat
We teach our young communicators to record their talks and let a seasoned communicator review and critique each aspect of the message. An example of a critique might be something like: “At marker 1:26, you used a crescendo in your voice to a ‘12’ when you could have paused, dropped to a ‘6’ and made the same point, but drawn in the listener more.”
Speak, record, critique, repeat. As many times as necessary.
An added bonus to this practice is how it allows the inexperienced to come along at the right pace. Give your new communicator as much time as possible before he/she speaks. Then, listen to the best, most polished version of the message. If you find the message is not where it needs to be, you can push it back to a later date.
The idea is to have them prepare like God is going to do nothing; then once they step on stage, let God do everything. (Click to Tweet)
3) Move Like a Frog
There are two animal pictures that I use to describe how a young communicator might think about the movements of their message.
Snake: When a snake moves, it moves inch by inch and touches everything. In speaking terms, this would be like an actor reading or memorizing a script, word for word. The young “snake-style” speaker can easily get tripped up on forgotten words, and find it difficult to remember how to get where they're going with the message.
Frog: In contrast, the frog leaps from lily pad to lily pad, not focused on each inch of ground covered—that is, in speaking terms, from idea to idea, instead of word to word. In this style, you don’t have to memorize every word---just your ideas and transitions. The young “frog-style” speaker is able to focus on what his/her points are (lily pads) not each specific word. This is valuable because it allows the communicator’s character to shine through, but still gives them needed boundaries on ad-libbing.
We highly recommend "frog-style" speaking.
4) Practice in a Safe Place
Be intentional about giving young communicators opportunities. As the Senior Pastor, we get it...you can knock “announcements” outta the ballpark. But then again, other people can do that too.
Regardless of whether the opportunity is sharing the announcements, facilitating a transition, prayer, or even speaking at a staff meeting, give young communicators opportunities to grow in places that are safe, and far less intimidating than the pulpit.
This is a small, but strategic, investment in your younger communicators that will benefit both the communicator, your church, and your staff.
5) Differentiate the Spiritual and Technical
God can do amazing things through awful communicators. But amazing spiritual results don’t exempt communicators from improving their craft.
By differentiating between what happened spiritually (what God did) and what the communicator said (as in, the speaking skill), you are able to evaluate the technical without devaluing the spiritual.
This allows the young communicator to receive feedback on things like pacing, enunciation, and word choice; body language, delivery and so much more. Though a young communicator may only give the critiqued talk once, chances are they have unknown habits that this process can reveal...allowing them to become a more effective communicator.
Pastors, you have an incredible opportunity and responsibility to invest in the church leaders of tomorrow.
Don’t take that responsibility lightly.
Who was a pastor or leader that helped you become a better communicator?
Send them a link to this article, and let them know how much you appreciate their investment!
This post was written by Team Impact's Lead Evangelist, Stephen Mackey. When Mackey isn't speaking in schools and churches around the world, he's hanging out with his wife and two kiddos in Dallas, TX.