Your Three Top Tips to ‘Prepare a Talk with Taste’

When preparing a talk what three things do you do which help you prepare so that when it is time to speak you feel prepared?

10 thoughts on “Your Three Top Tips to ‘Prepare a Talk with Taste’

  1. My three tips are

    1. Know the structure of the talk in your head and memorise it. I find that if know the structure, the rest of the talk can flow and even change within my structure.

    2. Pray about the talk a little and often rather than in one big chunk – just my preference.

    3. If you don’t feel excited about the talk you have prepared don’t assume anyone else will. So in my preparation I keep asking myself – is this interesting? is this thought-provoking? is this memorable?

  2. My Top Three Tips;
    1. Spend plenty of time preparing over a period of days and go back to what you have written to look at it with fresh eye. Research the subject and get other peoples opinions so that you can form your own
    2. Be aware of speaking too long – However enthusiastic you might be about the subject. 10 minutes (Tops) is the average persons attention span – High IQ university students maybe 15 to 20 minutes (Adults will sit politely but WILL stop listening. Children will just get up and walk away – If you can hold children you can hold adults.
    3. Even with microphones speaking clearly can be an issue – If you have put this much time into a preparation you may as well make sure they can hear it! Remember your older members may have hearing aids and they may make up half of the congregation.

  3. 1. Don’t attempt to put everything you know about a passage into one short sermon, this probably won’t be the only time you preach on that passage so save something for another occasion.
    2. If you preach from a full script, write it as you would speak it not as an essay and use white space, italics etc so you can easily find your place. A5 helps as you don’t have so far to look down.
    3. Think about the context you’re preaching in. Congregation, place, time and occasion.

  4. My Top 3 Tips (as of now, they may change!)

    1. Remember this is God’s work. We preach but it’s the Holy Spirit who speaks, convicts, encourages, rebukes, changes lives. So pray the Spirit will be at work amongst your hearers – and in you.
    2. Preach as you can, not as you cant. We can learn from others and may copy them to some extent, but we can only be ourselves.
    3. Make it real. Live out what you’re preaching about in your own life so that your preaching comes across as real.

  5. 1. Always give the congregation a chance to respond.
    This can be as simple as asking them to choose one of the challenges/encouragements from the sermon and ask them to tell God they would like Him to speak to them more about that in the coming week. Post-it notes are good to quickly hand-out so the congregation can easily write down a way they will respond to God and take it home with them.

    2. Rehearse it.
    Practise the whole sermon out loud, preferably with somebody listening, but if no one is available then in front of the mirror. This really helps you focus on your main points and delivery. Yes, its embarrassing but well worth it!

    3. Make the Bible text available and visual.
    Always encourage your listeners to turn to the text in their Bibles or on their phones. I put the Bible verses I am preaching about on the PowerPoint display so God’s word is available for all to see.

  6. 1 Look, read and pray about the passage you are going to preach on at least a week before, more if possible, before starting to write.
    2 Pray before writing and let the Spirit lead you.
    3 Offer a short prayer before delivering it and after you have done so, for the congregations response to it.

  7. 1. I live with the passage for as long as I can, thinking about it, asking God to speak to me through it, and concentrating on the passage and its context rather than commentaries for as long as possible.
    2. For me, the passage and the main point need to be ‘alive’ for me at the time I’m preaching, so even if I prepare quite a while beforehand I need to review and refresh the message near to the time I’m giving it. Otherwise it is not fresh and real.
    3. I do write it out in full, but then practise it and try to use spoken rather than written language.This is difficult and definitely a learning process!

  8. 1. Pete Hughes, leader of Kings Cross Church, at New Wine 2014 used the observation that a ‘Text without a Context is just a Pretext.’ To keep the talk relevant to the text, research the environment within which the text is set, with particular attention to the culture of the times. The insights gained can be important.
    2. Allow time for the relevance of the text to become clear to you. Pray it through, discuss it with friends, and allow it to ‘marinade.’ Keep notes. I use mind mapping software to track trains of thought.
    3. Do not finalise the talk too quickly, but when you have all the strands of thought together spend time on organisation and structure. Again I find the mind mapping helpful (a free app called M8i).

  9. What struck me from attending a set of two preaching workshops at Word Alive last led by Michael Raiter, was the emphasis and dedication to the preparation stage to the presentation of the talk. Michael Raiter said that he would (and, of course, it is different for different people) as a rule spend about 5 hours during the period before the talk – and once the text has been written up – reading it through and familiarising it. Raiter was using how he does preaching preparation – and he is a preacher that doesn’t use notes (as he spends so much time familiarising himself with the text) – so it will be different for those of us (most of us?) who do use notes, and other comments here have been really helpful. However, I came away from that preaching workshop very struck by the importance of planning the presentation side of your talk – considering that is the side of preaching preparation that I myself bolt on quickly at the end, and spend little time on!

  10. 1, Don’t try to rush your prep. I can tell when I’ve left it too late or time has escaped me and I’m sure those listening can too.

    2, Sometimes reading what you’ve prepared works. I’d rather be “live” from notes but sometimes reading a sermon works better – so long as you inject life through intonation, timing etc.

    3, Don’t be afraid of personal example whatever the topic – if you are real then others will connect with the message.

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