Since the time I felt called to preaching, I have tried to be a student of how to communicate. One of the things I have enjoyed most about having Dr. Mark Scott on our teaching team has been the opportunity to observe how he crafts and delivers sermons. For nearly 30 years Mark was a professor of preaching at Ozark Christian College in Joplin, MO. I think he’s even read a book or two on preaching. At any rate, since we share the preaching duties it gives me a front row seat to see how he does it.
If you want to be a better preacher or communicator, study others who are good preachers or communicators. Below are a few tips on how to learn from others.
- Use Your Eyes. Take everything in — content, movements, gestures, vocal inflexions. How do their movements complement their points? Does their posture change when the tone or emotion changes? How do they communicate confidence? Sincerity?
- Use Your Ears. The voice is the speaker’s most important tool. If you closed your eyes, would you still be engaged in the message? Would the vocal presence carry the message along or would you fall asleep? How do they use things such as pacing and silence?
- Use Your Mind. We preach because we have something to say. Therefore, our message should be clear. We should never get to the end of a sermon and leave an audience wondering, “What was that about?” Listening with your mind means paying attention to how a good speaker structures his content. How does it flow? What leads in to a point? What follows a point? Did they make a point?
- Use Your Heart. Good preaching is not simply about an emotional response. However, you can’t have good preaching unless you engage the heart. Engaging the heart means the speaker brings the listener into the process. As you’re listening, do you find yourself answering the speaker’s questions in your mind? Do you hear a story and remember one of your own?
Using this simple observation tools, you can learn from any good communicator.