Traits of a great stage teacher

Traits of a great stage teacherIn a couple weeks I’m preaching for Graduation Sunday when we recognize all the high school seniors in church services. I’m also the speaker for our town’s high school baccalaureate service, so I’ve got a couple significant speaking engagements coming up.

As I was thinking through a little of what I’ll be teaching at both events, a couple things came to mind about what makes someone a good presenter on a stage. I am definitely no expert, but I do watch people when they present and see a couple common traits among the ones that I appreciate most. Here’s what I’ve learned from them:

1. Know your content and know it well. I don’t mean memorize a script because people can tell when you’re just reciting something no matter how much emotion you try to infuse into it. Know your main ideas, the direction of your message, and be able to talk as if it’s a one-sided conversation, not a school report.

2. Be passionate about what you’re teaching. Passion isn’t something you can fake or muster up. Passion isn’t necessarily a loud voice or an energetic stage presence. It’s something that everyone can sense, but no one can quite put their finger on it because they can see it in your eyes and hear it in your voice because it’s obvious that you’ve put your lesson into practice in your own life long before you delivered it to them.

3. Use God’s Word to point out sin and weaknesses in people’s lives. Communicate God’s Word clearly and let Him convict. I learned this over the past several years by listening to my favorite podcast preachers: Craig Grochel, Perry Noble and Mark Driscol. People, including myself, are tired of watered-down messages that remind them of something they need to do or change without pushing them to do it in ways that might otherwise be offensive.

4. Use God’s Word to encourage people in their spiritual walk. The best messages I remember are the ones that both convict me and encourage me. If it’s all conviction every time I listen to someone teach, I feel depressed and unmotivated. But when it’s coupled with encouragement, the conviction can sink in without wallowing in it.

5. Be vulnerable. I know most teachers don’t think of themselves as the expert, so be intentional about communicating that. Let your audience see windows into your failures, your weaknesses and your struggles, and how the Lord is working or has worked in you through those areas so it encourages others. Plus, people respect what you have to say when they know you’re being real with them.

6. Saturate your messages in prayer. Need I say more?

7. As you prepare your messages, approach God’s Word with fear, trembling, and deep respect. The old adage is true, “Familiarity breeds contentment.” This is God’s-breathed Word, not just spiritual Mother Goose rhymes. Don’t take it lightly. It’s a huge privilege and responsibility that will incur a stricter judgment upon yourself (James 3:1).

What else do you see in certain pastors that makes them good teachers from a stage?

Posted on May 13, 2009

  • Jerry Schmoyer

    8. See yourself as a channel God uses to speak His truth. Keep in mind you are the conduit, the hose through which His truth and blessing flows. This will help keep everything else in proper persepctive. Seek what He wants you to say, ask Him to help you say it, and faithfully present His truth. Then leave the results to Him.

  • I love #7!

  • I think engaging the audience is an important thing, too. If the content is as important as we believe it to be, we must bring it to them in a way that gets them to think about it seriously. Too often we fall in love with the content (our illustrations, etc) and we forget that we are communicating to people.

  • be yourself and don't try to be someone you are not.

  • I agree with Dennis – the manner of presentation/delivery is extremely important. I've been in youth conferences and have heard speakers with great content but their presentation was far from engaging. It doesn't mean that we have to be a stand-up comic (which actually might help!), or have some type of dynamic video/illustration, on a weekly basis; but we should think of what we can do to bring the audience in to our "one-sided conversation".

    I think one of the best at this in our realm of work, and one of my personal favorites, is Erwin McManus. If you listen to or watch any of his messages, then you can immediately tell that his message and presentation is specifically crafted to the audience he is presenting it to. Granted, his weekly audience is different than probably 95% of the people who read this blog, but we can take away some great things from his craft.

    To me, sermonizing and message delivery is an art form. There's no specific way it must be done, but it's craft that is catered and developed as we are developed by God. So I tend to look at it the way a professional athlete looks at his craft – they study hours of film and develop their form and technique. So for me, I try to listen/watch a variety of pastors and speakers every week (Perry Noble being one of my fav's Tim) and learning how I can continue to develop my craft of public speaking. Anyway, this is pretty long now so I'll stop…

  • A great book that helped all of us at the staff at our church on speaking is: "Communicating For a Change". It is written by Andy Stanley and Lane Jones. It helps you work through a message in a way that is personal and gives the listener reason to listen. Then you point them to God's truth. After you have them understanding that we are all in the same boat when it comes to whatever you are talking about and what God says about it, then you teach how to apply God's truth to that situation. Then in the end you give encouragement and reason to start living your life according to the truth presented. I encourage everyone i know that is going to speak publicly to read this book. It is required reading for any volunteer that wants to speak on a Sunday night.,

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