Today I conclude my 10 tips for communicators, particularly preachers and teachers in church settings. While my experience is primarily as a pastor – I think there are principles that can transfer to most any communicator. You can see tips 1 and 2 HERE. Part 2 (tips 3-5) can be seen HERE. Part 3 (tips 6-8) can be seen HERE.
9a.) Watch, listen and evaluate.
It’s uncomfortable to watch or listen to yourself teach, but you need to. You especially need to watch yourself. When I first saw myself on video I was appalled. My motions and hand gestures where so distracting I don’t know if anyone heard a word I said years ago. I discovered I repeated phrases or said “umm” 4 million times. I’ve tried to remove those distractions and hone my craft. I have a long way to go, but evaluation helps me.
9b.) Ask someone else to watch, listen and evaluate.
This is hard. We need mentors who love us enough to help us improve as preachers. Here is the thing: Many of us have our identity wrapped up in being a “preacher” or “communicator”. Telling a preacher where he can improve is like telling a vocalist how she can sound better or less pitchy. We’re so sensitive to criticism to our identity that we have a hard time receiving constructive criticism.
Our identity shouldn’t be wrapped up in our gift or vocation, but that is for another day.
If you’re too insecure or too prideful to have someone evaluate you – you probably shouldn’t be preaching.
The longer you’ve been preaching – the more likely you need someone to evaluate you. Why? Because whenever we’ve done something for a long time we don’t see the need for improvement. Think about how the world and culture has changed in the last 20 years. How has your communication strategy changed to connect with an audience that’s changed?
10.) Don’t glory in the stage.
There is a danger that comes along with being a good speaker or worship leader. People will think you’re good. There isn’t anything wrong with that. We all like and need a pat on the back. The danger comes when the pats on the back lead to puffed up egos and arrogance.
When we’re on the stage we’re usually at our best. Even when we talk about our failures we have a way of spinning them to make us look delightfully transparent and real. We’re rarely as good off the stage all the time. This isn’t hypocrisy – this is being a child of God in the sanctification process. Preachers aren’t sanctified – they are being sanctified. Every good work we see as a result of our preaching is a gift from God. It is a miracle of epic proportions that He would choose to use us in His story of redemption. Let us never forget we’re messengers – not the One who wrote the message.