Category Archives: Skills
Here is the concluding part of this series. Hope you find it useful. Let me have your views and things to add that I might have left out. Let’s go!
#9. BE BRIEF! MAKE IT SHORT AND MEMORABLE.
BREVITY is a key to impactful speeches and sermons. Check it out; the most memorable speeches in history have been known to be very short. I heard it said somewhere several years ago and I have found it to be true from experience: The mind cannot absorb more than the seat can endure! That is so much the truer for this generation that seem to be perpetually plagued by attention deficit disorder (ADD).
I have always believed that it does not take an everlasting sermon to make an everlasting impact. And I read it somewhere that speeches do not have to be long to be great. Short speeches do not have to be long to be important. Long sermons have been known to be short on impact! Great speakers keep it short and simple. It takes a masterful speaker to make complex issues simple. The fool makes simple things complex, all for the sake of being considered profound. Learn to be brief. You can be simple without being simplistic!
#10. NEVER EVER YOU SPEAK WITHOUT THE ANOINTING OF THE HOLY SPIRIT. (Acts 1:5, 8; 1 Cor. 2:1-5) Whatever you do, get the ANOINTING. That’s my greatest trade secret! All what I have mentioned earlier (brevity, humor, knowledge, inspiration, passion, integrity etc.) in this particular series will hold no water except you are anointed by the Holy Ghost. This means that above all, you have to get the anointing. An un-anointed preacher is like an unwashed soap salesman – he does not use his own product. He lacks believability. It is the anointing, not human eloquence or oratorical skills that changes people’s lives. It is the anointing that infuses your words with power causing it to impact people positively. So, with all your getting, get the unction! I wish you a blessed and impactful speaking experience. You will succeed!
You may see the previous three posts on this same subject here:
10 Tips for Speaking To Impact Lives (1 of 4)
10 Tips for Speaking To Impact Lives (2 of 4)
10 Tips for Speaking To Impact Lives (3 of 4)
Hi there! Let’s resume our talking points on speaking with impact. I hope you’ve been able to take something away from these posts. If you missed the first two posts in which I covered #1 through #5, you can get them here and here.
#6. NEVER TALK PEOPLE DOWN, LIFT THEM UP!
Whatever your subject, inspire them. The easiest message to preach is one of condemnation. You don’t have to try, to beat people down. They already are! But it takes a committed speaker, who is out to help people, to inspire and lift them up. I believe you can talk about hell without raising it, because I have done that before. And I must tell you, from experience, that it is not as easy or as simple as it looks to inspire people. You have to work at it. Inspiring people does not mean you have to sugarcoat or downplay the severity and seriousness of what you’re discussing. It only means that you approach your subject from a positive angle focused on helping people and not condemning them. INSPIRATION is an indispensable key if you want to impact people.
#7. FOR GOD’S SAKE, LOOSEN UP!
Don’t be too uptight. HUMOR is vital in public speaking. If you can get people to laugh, then you can get them to identify with what you’re saying. I’m not saying you have to become a stand-up comic. No! But you see, rare is the speaker who is able to connect with his/her audience without using humor. I can tell you that firsthand! You may not be the “funny type”, I know. But you sure can find a good joke to tell, all the better if the joke is on you. Just don’t think that because you’re discussing something serious, you have to take yourself too seriously. Catch my drift?
#8. NEVER SPEAK WITHOUT COPYING THE MOST IMPACTFUL SPEAKER OF ALL TIMES – JESUS. TELL STORIES.
Everyone loves a good story. People may forget your actual words from a speech but they may never forget the story you used to illustrate your point. That, my friend, is THE POWER OF STORY. Many people, I’m sure you too, and even non-church going people remember classic illustrations (we call them parables) of Jesus like; the Sower, the Good Samaritan, the lost sheep, the lost coin and the (lost) Prodigal Son, the Persistent Widow and the Unjust Judge etc. And once you can recollect the story, the essence of the message becomes clear and indelible to your mind. Ditto! I make it a point never to speak without telling stories. You don’t have to have an exceptional ability to craft stories, just real life illustrations relevant to the subject matter of your discourse will do. I will conclude this in my next post. YOU WILL SUCCEED!
Okay, thanks for staying with me. Did you get those first three tips I gave? If you missed that, you can check it here.
#4. Forget about yourself, your looks, your diction etc.
FOCUS ON YOUR AUDIENCE. I believe the dictum, “People see who you are before they hear what you have to say.” Therefore, I make every effort to look and dress my best for any speaking or preaching engagement. I invest hours in preparation of my material to the best of my ability. But see, once I take the podium or whatever it is, I forget about myself and put all of my focus on my listener and audience. At that point, I care less about how my tie is knotted, is my pocket-square in place, or whether my outfit is well-fitted on me, all that is before I take the podium, not once I’m there. All my focus now, is my listener, how to help them, how to benefit them.
#5. Never open your mouth to speak except you have immersed yourself in your subject matter.
Here I am talking about KNOWLEDGE. But don’t assume you alone know, be humble! You really do yourself and your audience a dis-service if you address them when you’re ill-prepared.
Knowledge gives you authority and confidence on the stage. That is why I always study well before I take the floor to address any group on any subject whatsoever. I bring to every speaking opportunity a minimum of fifteen hours of study. How have I been able to achieve that? I have made my life into one long-drawn out preparation. I am always gathering material for talks – reading books, clipping articles both electronically and from print issues, watching videos and listening to audio programs. Tedious, yes! But it has come to be fun, and much more it pays off. However do not forget point number three above, you don’t do this to impress people but to help them. People really don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care! TO BE CONTINUED
Over my last two decades of preaching, teaching and public speaking, I have been privileged to receive loads of positive feedback. People tell me of how they have been blessed, how useful what I’ve shared has been to them and I’ve even gotten to hear many stories of life transformation as a direct result of those speeches and sermons. Thus, there is nowhere I have spoken yet that they have not wanted me back!
This prompted me to ask myself recently, “What is it that I do in speaking to impact lives?” “What suggestions would I have for fellow speakers or a beginner who also want to make a difference in people’s lives?” This is my answer, encoded as it were in these ten (10) points:
#1. Never say what you don’t do.
In the Bible book of Acts, the physician Luke wrote about “All that Jesus began both to do and teach…” (Acts 1:1) This talks of your INTEGRITY as a speaker. Notice he mentions “do” first before “teach”. What you “teach” should come out of what you “do”!
You are actually your message. Your speech becomes hollow and dead on arrival when it is not backed up by your character. Oh! I know a lot of speakers teach fancy things that they don’t do. That’s hypocrisy, but if you want to be impactful as a speaker, your speech and life must match!
See, over the past few years, I have come to know that you cannot take people beyond your own level of experience. What you do is what gives force to what you say. The beloved apostle John wrote in 1 John 1:1-3 that they declare only what they have heard, seen and handled, which is why their ministry was profitable and impactful.
#2. Never speak about what you aren’t passionate about.
This talks about PASSION. I learnt several years back that the day your message moves from a speech to an obsession is the day you begin to impact lives. As a matter of principle, I never speak about any subject I don’t feel strongly about. John Wesley prayed, “O God, set me on fire that the whole world might come and watch me burn.” If a message is not burning in my heart I don’t teach it!
Passion is contagious. When your message moves you, it will move your audience. The converse is equally true. And without that passion, you can’t change lives.
#3. Never speak to impress people. Focus on making a difference in their lives.
Speak for CHANGE. “How will my discourse benefit my listeners?” This is a question I routinely ask myself whenever I’m opportuned to speak. Of course, I believe in myself and the potency of my message material to influence my listeners positively but ultimately I know that it will be a perennial waste of all of our precious time if all I am focused on is that they be impressed about how good or knowledgeable a speaker I am. That’s why I never aim for esotericism or those pie-in-the-sky kinds of sermons and speeches. I keep it simple. If my five year old son cannot understand what I am talking about, then what in the world am I doing spewing that out of my mouth! Expert speakers make complex things simple while amateurs make the simple complex. Why? He wants to sound ‘deep’ and impressive. But the truth is; it works the other way round. If people can understand you, you will impress them. TO BE CONTINUED
The story is told, years ago, at Yale University, there was a very brilliant, but eccentric, professor of Mathematics. One day he assigned a difficult problem to his students and asked them to bring the answer to class the next morning.
The dormitories were ablaze with lights late into the night, as the students struggled with the problem. One young man spent nearly all night working on it, because he felt this was an important assignment. As dawn approached, he carefully and triumphantly wrote down his solution.
The next morning the professor asked various students, “Would you go to the board and give the answer to the problem?”
Each time, after a student had written his answer, the professor said, “I’m sorry, that’s wrong. Please be seated.”
Then he asked another young man who walked briskly to the board and wrote the right answer. But the professor said, “That’s incorrect. Please sit down.”
As that student took his seat, the young man who had studied throughout the night raised his hand, and the professor said, “Go to the board, and give us the solution.”
Striding confidently to the board, the young man wrote the same solution as the previous student whose answer had been refused.
Without a change of expression, the professor said, “That’s wrong. Didn’t you hear me tell this other young man that his answer was wrong? Yet, you’ve written the same solution.”
Boldly, the young man said, “Professor, it’s correct.”
“Are you trying to put me down?” the professor asked.
“No, sir, I’m not. I respect you very highly, but that is the correct answer,” he said.
“Are you sure?”
“I’m sure,” he replied. “Are you absolutely sure?” the professor challenged.
“I’m absolutely sure.”
The professor smiled and said, “You are correct. It’s the right answer.”
There was a wave of protest from the class but the professor said, “Now wait a minute. I’ll tell you why I did this. Soon you’ll be out in the world, and people will be demanding solutions to problems. They will not only want the correct answer, but they will also want to know that you have confidence in your answer.
“This man has demonstrated to us that he knows the solution. He knows that he knows! That’s the way life is. You must not only have the answer, but also have confidence in your answer.” You not only need to know, you must know that you know what you know. Period!
The scriptures say, “Cast not away therefore your confidence, which has great recompense of reward” (Hebrews 10:35) and in Isaiah 30:15 goes further to add that “in quietness and in confidence shall be your strength.”
Self-confidence is one of your greatest assets to success in life. Without it, no matter how smart you are; no matter what you know you may never go far. You not only need to know, you need to know that you know what you know. So, whatever you wear, you have to wear confidence. It will take you places in life. Have a great working week, this week. YOU WILL SUCCEED!