Tuesday, November 10

How to Give a Speech

One of my students asked what steps I go though when I am preparing a lecture or a talk or a sermon or a speech. Obviously, the first thing I have to do is make certain I have something to talk about--I need to master the material, do the reading, wrestle through the ideas, allow the concepts to enlarge in my thinking, consider the various opposing views, and arrive at some Biblical worldview conclusions regarding the subject. Then and only then am I ready to start thinking about constructing a presentation.

But, once that is done, what guidelines do I try to keep in view as I start pulling my thoughts together?

Here is what I told him:

1. Have just one point.

2. Frame that one point with a strong introduction and a well-crafted conclusion.

3. Have a strong outline for everything in-between.

4. Use pithy or funny or poignant quotes—or perhaps peculiar facts that you can then hang each of your points upon.

5. Just be yourself--don't try to inject or project some other persona.

6. Don't read the talk--but don't memorize it either.

7. Have fun.

"A lecture should proceed apace from knowledge to understanding to wisdom--offering insights, delights, and always some element of surprise. Oh yes, and its passion should be outdone only by its brevity." Arthur Quiller-Couch


The Morrisons said...

#7 is the reason I could never be a public speaker. All the organizing, researching, wrestling with ideas-that part is fun. But actually delivering makes me feel sick! It is a gift to be able to stand up in front of people every day and speak good sense-one which you are very talented in.

Jeff Sanders said...

When I was 19 my pastor told me--Three simple rules, Jeff:

1. Stand up
2. Speak up
3. Sit down and shut up

That last one was the toughest for me. Still is.

Peter Jones said...

Is this different from a sermon or would you approach a sermon basically the same way?
Peter Jones, Pastor
Morgantown, WV

gileskirk said...

Peter: For a sermon, I follow the same rules--but, I add a few steps: pray, pray, pray, and of course, pray. But, do note: each of the steps I've mapped out here follow careful preparation--and that is particularly true for a sermon. I start thinking through and meditating upon the text of my Sunday sermon as soon as I get home from church the Sunday prior--typically I'll read through it twice even before I leave church for lunch.