Are you looking for ways to brighten your sermons and stir some emotion in your audience? Public speaking is a formidable task, but you can use a few techniques to liven up your speech and present your message in a more appealing way.
Next time you’re preparing to speak in front of your congregation, apply the following tips to make a lasting impression.
1. Speak to One Person
A big mistake many worship leaders make is speaking to the entire congregation at once. This gives the audience the impression that you’re talking to yourself or no one. It might make your sermon feel forced or overly rehearsed, and you won’t be able to connect with the parishioners on a personal level.
Instead, try speaking to your audience one member at a time. Shift your gaze from one person to the next so parishioners feel like you’re talking to them, not at them. Eye contact is a powerful tool in any setting, and it makes for much more engaging public speaking.
2. Appeal to Emotions
Faith requires strong feelings, and it’s your job as the worship leader to appeal to your parishioners’ convictions.
Focus on how the readings made you feel. Whatever it is, make your speech revolve around that feeling. During the Lenten season, your sermons should have melancholy overtones. On Holy Days like Christmas and Easter, make your addresses joyous and celebratory.
Monotony is the easiest way to lose an audience’s interest. Pinpoint the feelings and attitudes of your congregation, and expand your message from there.
3. Tell Stories
One great way to appeal to people’s emotions is great storytelling. Jesus and the prophets were influential speakers primarily because they told parables their audience could relate to. They told everyday stories with important life lessons and became equals with those who listened to them.
The average sermon simply summarizes the themes of the day’s readings. However, you need to use a speaking technique that allows the audience to fully understand the message. No one is an expert at interpreting Scripture, but everyone loves a good story.
If you tell a good story, the audience will figure out the message for themselves and thus take it closer to heart.
4. Make an Explainer Video
You might feel uncomfortable incorporating technology into your speech, but sometimes your voice can’t effectively convey a point or message by itself. Try using a presentation or video to guide the audience through your sermon.
Video is a helpful tool, but it’s still your job to put the message together correctly. The video has to entertain and appeal to the audience, or it becomes a lecture.
Use powerful quotes, slogans and visuals to grab their attention. End the video with a call to action, and leave your audience feeling inspired.
5. Embrace Silence
If you use a video presentation, you might notice that your sermon will have more moments of silence since you don’t have to do all the talking. That’s a good thing because you can use silence to your advantage.
Silence is a great opportunity to gauge your audience’s interest and pull them back in. After a section from your speech or the video ends, take a moment to pause before you go to your next topic. Anyone not paying attention will immediately notice that the room has gone quiet and turn their focus back to you.
Silence can also help emphasize significant points. Stopping after making a major statement or declaration gives the audience an extra moment to absorb what you just said.
6. Clear Your Mind
Before you step in front of the congregation, you need to have a clear mind. You can do several things to accomplish this:
- Put down your phone
- Avoid using the computer
- Practice a breathing technique
In the moments leading up to the Mass or sermon, practice a slow breathing technique to lower your heart rate and stifle the jitters.
Most importantly, smile at your parishioners. It’s well known that the simple act of smiling can improve one’s mood and increase confidence levels, so make a habit of doing this before, during and after your sermon.
7. Plan and Practice
Only a few blessed individuals can improvise a speech, but many speakers try it anyway. If you’ve ever lost your place or tried to wing a sermon, you probably noticed that your audience caught on pretty quickly.
It’s OK to lose your place or forget your next train of thought, but you should have a plan in case that happens. Keep a memorable story in the back of your mind so that if you ever find yourself tongue-tied, you have something to talk about.
The best thing you can do, however, is practice. Once you have your sermon prepared on paper, go through it as many times as it takes until you remember all the talking points and transitions by heart.
Captivate Your Audience in Your Next Sermon
You will appear more confident, capable, personable and authoritative to your congregation by following these seven steps.