4 Absolutes for Affective Preaching

4 Absolutes for Affective Preaching
Doug Law

What every speaker needs to know to be persuasive…

For about a billion years I performed baritone solos with major orchestras around the world, conducted by folks such as Leonard Bernstein. At the same time I was also working in the church environment with many preaching pastors. They always seemed to end up in the worship office for “performance” tips. I was flattered. I loved being helpful, and as it turns out, performance techniques fit almost anywhere—even preaching and teaching. Here are 4 things I learned before and while helping them.

1. Always keep your sternum high. Everything else you do and say will have little impact if your sternum is low.

The sternum, of course, is that bony part of your chest that you pound on when you want to make a point, or, well…give your Tarzan yell at a party. The sternum is just below your chin and, providing you don’t have too many of those, you can easily find it. The sternum basically has two positions—high or low.

Actors know exactly how to use the sternum to create the essential persona they are attempting to bring into being. The general rule is that if you are trying to create the look of a loser (depressed all the time, doesn’t get the girl, loses the job, etc.) your sternum is in the low position. Conversely, if you are a winner (you get the girl, make the touchdown, marry the quarterback, get the deal of the century, are speaking the truth) your sternum is high and confident. It’s not complicated. Pastors who want to gain the attention of their congregations need to stand up straight, just like mom said.

2. Be Prepared—that is to say collecting, assembling, and rehearsing your content. There’s something that often gets in the way of an effective presentation—the sin of knowing too much. Let me quickly explain. The so-called “iceberg” principle applies here and often messes up speakers because, instead of focusing on the 10 percent of the information that their audience can and will understand, they start to “drill down” so far that they lose their listeners with the 90 percent nobody cares about.

3. Create behavioral objectives—the way any good teacher prepares the materials he or she is going to bring to classes. Good communicators have to do the same thing or run the risk of wandering all over the communication map. Telling a few bad jokes, screaming way too much, and leaving people both speechless and clueless do not constitute a good sermon. Know where you’re going before you start to talk and make sure, before you finish, to tell your audience something about your own learning process. The so-called “application” for what the audience is supposed to do next is often demonstrated in your own personal story.

4. Nobody is impressed with who you think you are, only by who they actually perceive you to be. Remember, your perception of yourself only occasionally lines up with how others perceive you unless you are able to present yourself in a fully congruent way. We’re all a little narcissistic, but that’s not a good excuse for not paying attention to how we are perceived by others.

This article “4 Absolutes for Affective Preaching” by Doug Law was excerpted from: www.sermoncentral.com web site. August 2010. It may be used for study & research purposes only.

This article may not be written by an Apostolic author, but it contains many excellent principles and concepts that can be adapted to most churches. As the old saying goes “Eat the meat. Throw away the bones.”