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One secret to effective speaking is to learn what not to say…

Don’t give everything you’ve got in a message.

A standard joke is about the young preacher giving his first message. After he has studied hard and has lots of information, he can’t help but share everything he’s got. One key, however, to an effective message is when the speaker learns what to say and what not to say. The “what not to say” is perhaps the more important part. I’m not an expert speaker, but for me, the best part of my sermon message preparation is after it’s written, going back and cutting parts of it to tighten up the talk.

Here are three suggestions to make a good talk great.

Be intentional in saying the right things – It’s easier just to throw everything into the talk. Deciding the right thing to say takes more effort, but makes the talk better.

Honor people’s time - Let’s face it. People are busy. They get bored easily. They check out before you make your final points. Understand this and you’ll keep their attention long enough to say what you need to say.

Leave them wanting more - It’s always good to leave your audience with an anticipation, rather than looking at their watch.

Unless you and I are exceptional communicators (the kind of communicator who is better than even they think they are), then we need to learn how to trim our messages, leaving the best parts and cutting the fluff. We will be more pleased with your results.

Have you sat through a speech or message that went too long?

BTW, what do you do when you get bored listening? Do you sleep…check your phone…doodle? Seriously…I’m curious…  (Grace Community Church peeps need not reply…Ha!)

(Pastors, there’s still time for this Sunday!)

Ron Edmondson is a pastor and church leader passionate about planting churches, helping established churches thrive, and assisting pastors and those in ministry think through leadership, strategy and life. Ron has over 20 years of business experience, mostly as a self-employed business owner, and he's been in full-time ministry for over eight years.  

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Talk about it...

Pastor Herbert W. Roshell

commented on Apr 18, 2012

I understand where people are in today world, but I have done short and long massages... and still have the same resorts. Some people (Christians) come to church... from a night of partying and burning the candle at both ends. No; I know it's easy to say it's the message and NOT the people... that not what I'm talking about. They come in sleepy and leave sleepy... blink and they are sleep. Hope we don't take God out of the message... like many "new bibles" have done. God bless ! Pastor Roshell...

Spencer Miller

commented on Apr 18, 2012

I learned this early in my preaching experience from the best crictic I know, my wife. After preaching one of my earlier sermons she told me, "You gave us too much information" from that day on I started trimming the fat so speak. When I put a sermon together now I always ask myself is this or that relevant to what I am trying to say? If not, I simply leave it out regardless of how clever it may sound at the time.

Dean Johnson

commented on Apr 18, 2012

Pastor Herbert, you give massages in your church?! I would think THAT would keep people awake!

Robert Sickler

commented on Apr 19, 2012

Good advice. A mentor once told me: if you cannot say it in 20-minutes you cannot say it is 60 minutes. I find that it helps if I write what I want to say and if it is long I break it into a series of sermons.

Will Nunn

commented on Apr 19, 2012

Robert, I appreciate the reminder about breaking up long sermons into sermon series. A mentor of mine also instructed us to include possible points of bailout in a sermon where perhaps I had gone too long on a point and needed to cut it there and say the rest on the next Sunday. While it's true that should be considered in the plan/prep time, it's possible that the Spirit can guide us down a slightly different path in the moment, such that we need to alter the plan a bit. Thank you, Ron, for the concise call to conciseness; it is much appreciated.

John E Miller

commented on Apr 20, 2012

Permit me to give three suggestions of what sermons that are in keeping with the mind of God have in common. Firstly, they have the Lord Jesus Christ as their subject. Secondly they rely on the presence and power of the Holy Spirit of God. Thirdly they are solidly and solely based on the word of God. Where did this obsession with "preaching great sermons" come from? Why not concentrate on preaching about a Great Saviour?

Jeff S. Mann

commented on Apr 23, 2012

Excellent tho'ts. People are much more likely to come back if they leave wanting more... and not as likely to come back if they leave wishing they'd had less. We can't feed a flock who doesn't attend.

Derrick Tuper

commented on Apr 23, 2012

One thing to avoid in preaching a topical sermon is wanting to use ALL the relevant scriptures pertaining to the topic. That will add to the TMI aspect of it and create a longer message than necessary. I like the 'leave them wanting more' idea.

Stan Roam

commented on Apr 30, 2012

I think that the pastor and the congregation have a responsibly to do their best to prepare for the worship time. The church will never be completely together at an given service but it should be our greatest desire to come to worship and serve the Lord each week because God loves us and we love God.

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