Last week, I wrote about using specific, concrete examples to help your audience better grasp your point. Today, I want to explore that further.
The best content in the world won’t change your audience if they can’t connect to your message. That’s why the crafting of your talk itself is as important as the crafting of the content. With a little practice, you can add flair to your talk that will engage your audience and help them to connect to your content in transformational, worldview-shifting ways. I want to focus briefly on three:
The words you use are key. As Mark Twain said, “The difference between the right word and the almost right word is the difference between lightning and the lightning bug.” Using (but not over-using) alliteration can add a touch of poetic artistry, improve your audience’s ability to assimilate. If you can sum up your talk in one clear, simple point, repeat it as often as you can in the talk (while it still feels natural).
Be aware of how your body is moving. Are you walking? Are you sitting? What are your arms doing? Does the way your body moves emphasize or detract from your point? A great, quick read on this is Malcolm Gladwell’s article “What the Dog Saw”, available in his book of the same name.
Finally, can you use your environment to your advantage? I gave a talk about Jesus as the light of the world in John 1 and its connection to Genesis 1. We used the lighting in the worship space to illuminate my point – shutting them off and turning them back on in sequence at specific points throughout the rest of my talk. It proved to be quite effective in cementing my point in the audience’s mind. Another time, in a talk on Jesus’ third temptation, I used Guitar Hero as an example. I used a Guitar Hero guitar on stage and had our worship pastor come out and play some songs to help me make my point. Don’t even get me started on the adultery smoothie.
The point of all of this is not to create needless spectacle. Rather, it’s to connect our audience to our content on more than just the aural level. The more points of contact we created to our content, the more likely our audience is to take what we communicate to them home with us, to make our message a part of themselves.