One time while baking a cake the sugar was left out, even though all the other ingredients were mixed well, baked well and frosted well, something was missing. Ever listen to a speaker only to discover something was missing? Just like ingredients there are essentials to every great presentation.
Here are my five components to a compelling message:
The Beginning Sentence There are opponents to this method but grabbing your audience at the beginning, especially when left with a question in their mind of how is this going to end, has enormous results. Take for instance, “I will give in this 25 minute message three ways you can change your marriage by the end of the week.” People will be grabbing their notepads, sitting on the edge of their seats and ready to grasp their “life changing” tools. Notice the sentence answers several presuppositions: “How much will it cost?” (I will give you) and “How long will it take?” (25 minute message) and “Can I do it?” (Yes, by the end of the week).
A word of caution is in order: don’t overstate your objectives or content. Understate and over deliver but create enough suspense and punch to pull them into the message.
Interesting Information Some like statistics, others like reading a definition but pulling some facts together with no personality can lose an audience. Rather share intriguing data with personality added, take for instance, a personal story with facts scattered throughout the story line.
“Sara, was kidnapped from a Kmart shopping center parking lot at 11:00 PM on a Saturday evening, after several days of beatings, she became another statistic in the horrid sex trafficking surge. FBI information states currently there are an estimated 293,000 American children at risk of being exploited and trafficked for sex, in the United States alone”
Sprinkles Humor, bold points, quotes and practical applications need to be sprinkled generously but not over done. I usually wake early in the morning and fix breakfast for my wife before she heads off to work. One morning I wasn’t paying particular attention and I must have salted the eggs twice and it made a distasteful difference to the “good” breakfast she usually enjoyed each morning. Too much of anything can distract, disrupt and dismantle a good message or speech. If you are preparing a sermon, add enough flavoring to make it taste good but don’t allow you congregation to taste the seasoning at the expense of the well prepared meat.
Personal Experience Telling others how you came through can add weight to the message. Don’t deviate into personal trivia, don’t embarrass people you love and never exaggerate or boast of your own successes. But do boast on others, be honest and transparent. The pulpit is not a place for super heroes. This is a great spot for humor or for a tear. If you can’t think of a personal story, tell a story of someone else but make sure it highlights your message.
Personal experience should help the hearer personalize the truth. Take for instance this based on a real life story:
Just last night while riding patrol with our city police we were dispatched to an attempted suicide. The young 17-year-old had barely ingested enough prescription medicine to give him a stomach ache. As the ambulance loaded him, he voluntarily went to the hospital for observation. A young girl, 16 years old, stood trembling in the cool, autumn air, she was crying. “He is my boyfriend, he wanted to die together and I told him, No!” (I may add more facts here about the city suicide rate, boy/girl relations, and any other details surrounding the story and the message). To finish up, an observation may be inserted, such as, “She had a great life in front of her, young, responsible, healthy, had a job, she was like a swimming pool full or fresh, clear and clean water but he was like the plug at the bottom of the pool, who kept coming loose and draining her. Do you have life draining circumstances?”
A Great End To have a great movie with an ending that was way off base or not completely fulfilling is a disaster. To have a good sermon without a good ending is a disaster. We should plan the end just like we plan the entire message. A great message demands a great response. Having the auditorium rise to their feet, the appropriate song, and a well planned response can be the highlight of the entire message. Too many a speaker has had a tremendous presentation only to drop it at the conclusion. Or, this one, “As I continue to close,” drags out the ending and can thwart your intended purpose.
The ending should include three well planned purposes: The speaker should know where he is ending, know how he is ending and most importantly, should know why he is ending.
Comment: What do you look for in a compelling message or sermon?
Copyright by Jim Laudell. Materials may not be copied, reproduced or distributed without the written permission from the author. You may share on Facebook, Twitter, and other forms of social media while giving credit to the author