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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.

1. 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.

2. 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.

3. 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?

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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David Scott

commented on Dec 9, 2014

Very interesting. My first teaching assignment about 35 years ago, I was sent to a small church in a town about 40 miles away where I knew NO ONE. The pastor told me sternly BEFORE I started, that I had 15 minutes! That's it. And if I went 1 minute longer he would publicly stop me! I learned how to share even complex topics in 15 minutes and it was the BEST thing that happened to me in ministry! I now regularly share for 15-20 minutes, rarely going 30, ever! And folks tell me that they wished I had gone on longer! I'll take that complaint any day! I, like you Ron, am running my own business but waiting to retire and then go into full-time ministry for the church I planted 25 years ago.

Jayamohan Raj

commented on Dec 9, 2014

Thanks The information is useful and must fot all preacher s like me

Charles Bavier

commented on Dec 9, 2014

I agree 100. Great points I wish I had learned them 40 years ago. Unfortunately I learned them too late. ALWAYS leave them wanting more.

Jeff Glenn

commented on Dec 9, 2014

When I first started preaching in 1987, a "long" sermon from me would have lasted about 15 I guess people wished I would return to that practice! LOL!

Revd. Martin Dale

commented on Dec 9, 2014

Brother, The Germans have a superb saying: "In der K?rze liegt die W?rze". I recall 20-30 years ago a sermon once from a Swiss pastor preaching in English!!! After 15 mins I said to myself :"Not inspiring but not wrong". After 30 mins I said to myself: "You've simply repeated yourself for the last 15 mins" . After 45 mins I said to myself: " Now you've repeated yourself twice". After one hour - yes he really did rabbit on that long - I was ready to reach for a dose of Mogadons (RTM)! If you don't strike oil after 10 mins stop boring

Revd. Martin Dale

commented on Dec 9, 2014

The expression is "In der Kuerze liegt die Wuerze" - sorry Sermon Central did not recognise letters with umlauts as I originally submitted it!

Tony Bland

commented on Dec 9, 2014

MAN I WISH I COULD SEND THIS TO SOME OF MY PREACHER are so right better them wanting more than wanting you to stop

Charmine Durrant

commented on Dec 9, 2014

I like this, my messages are alway 15-20 min , i enjoy short sermon , good topic

Minister Sanders

commented on Dec 10, 2014

I love this article. Preaching is more effective when we don't Overdo it like some preachers do especially in closing sermons.

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