Can They Hear?
I have been pondering the issue of sermon delivery again. Part of the reason is that I am leading a workshop on the subject. I don’t want to go over the whole rationale for even engaging the subject. I know some are prone to suggest that to give any consideration to delivery is to fall into entertainment and performance, or to fail to trust the Spirit of God. Maybe I’ll come back and offer some thoughts on why that is not the case. But for now I’d like to offer a basic pairing of key issues:
Can they hear? If the people in the meeting cannot hear what is said, then communication is not happening. No amount of good content will overcome the fundamental flaw of not being heard. Three factors to consider:
1. Projection. The preacher needs to project their voice. Even if you have a microphone, preach as if you don’t (without shouting) and let the experts on the sound desk adjust accordingly. Some people assume a microphone will pick up and amplify sound that barely has the strength to make it across the few inches to the black foam. Shouting and straining may harm your vocal clarity and make it so listeners don’t want to hear you, but lack of projection can be just as frustrating.
2. Pronunciation. You don’t need to put on an accent that is not your own. You are preaching, not reading the news. But be lovingly sensitive to those present, and adjust as necessary to allow them to make out the words you are saying. Mumbled words are not casual, they are unloving. Practice moving the mouth a little more and make sure the words and sounds are articulated.
3. Pace. You will often hear people talking about how the pace should not be too quick. It is certainly possible to overdo the pace, but the human mind can cope with quick speech. That is, as long as the words are distinct, and the pace is not sustained for too long. So beware of going too fast, but also recognize that some listeners cannot tolerate it when a speaker goes too slowly, either.
Let’s now probe another question that will take us to a new level on the issue of delivery dynamics. Comments invited for the above through Cor Deo
Here’s a follow up question:
Will they Listen?
Just because people technically can hear the preacher, this doesn’t mean that they want to listen. Here are three factors to ponder:
1. Personal Warmth. Dogs can tell when they are not liked. So can congregations. If the preacher lacks personal warmth, then the listeners may feel more critical of the preacher, or they may tune out what they perceive to be a critical spirit toward them. There is no need to act like syrup and present a fake flattery (people see through that, of course). But genuine warmth and care is critical to creating a true communication connection.
2. Prideful Attitude. Many people have a sensitive radar when it comes to personal pride. They can spot any hint of it in others (even while being oblivious to their own profound problems with pride!) So be careful not to show off, to drop names, to seek to impress, to be proactively self-conscious. When listeners thinking you are prideful, they tend to stop being good listeners.
3. Provocatively Annoying. Not to put too fine a point on it, don’t be annoying. I could list any number of habits that preachers might develop that might annoy their listeners, but the best way to find out is to humbly ask a few trusted listeners and be willing to listen to them. It could be a matter of a gesture, or a vocal habit, or a strategy for interaction, or whatever. It would be a shame for people to choose not to listen to your message because something you are doing is annoying to them.
Can they hear? Will they listen? Two key questions in considering the dynamics of delivery.
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[author] [author_image timthumb=’on’]http://christmycovenant.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/01/Peter-Mead.png[/author_image] [author_info]Dr Peter Mead is a Bible teacher and ministry trainer, based in southern England. His main ministry is as co-director and mentor of Cor Deo, a full-time mentored study and ministry training program. Peter leads the Advanced Bible Teachers Network at the European Leadership Forum. He holds degrees from Multnomah Biblical Seminary (MDiv/MA), and the Doctor of Ministry degree in homiletics from Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, where Dr Haddon Robinson was his mentor. For more information on Cor Deo, including the weekly theological blog, please visit www.cordeo.org.uk. Peter also authors the BiblicalPreaching.net website for preachers.[/author_info] [/author] [button link=”http://www.biblicalpreaching.net” newwindow=”yes”] Visit Biblical Preaching[/button] [button link=”http://www.cordeo.org.uk/” newwindow=”yes”] Visit Cor Deo[/button]