2 Strategies For Pastors To Become Better Communicators
Have you ever been in a situation when you're listening to a pastor’s message, and all the sudden you look down to see it's only been 10 minutes? Or - vice versa - have you ever been swept up by a great communicator where it seemed like time stood still?
Here at Vanderbloemen Search Group, we have the opportunity to listen to teaching samples and sermons of some of today’s best communicators as we look for the ideal candidates for our clients. I’d like to offer two of the most important strategies for improving your communication that I have gleaned from hours of extensive sermon-viewing and ministry experience.
The best speakers and pastors have mastered the art of engaging both the head and the heart. I hope these two strategies will help you improve to the point that your audience is engaged, moved to action, and walks away better than when they arrived.
1. Authentic Relatability.
The best pastors and speakers win their audiences over by being authentic and relatable communicators. Sharing personal moments, whether triumphs or failures often allows even the most out of reach person to be relatable. Author and research professor Brene Brown has been championing the idea of leading with authenticity for many years at the University of Houston. Her original TED talk titled: “The Power of Vulnerability” from June 2010 has been viewed more than 21 million times on the web by those seeking to improve in this area.
Humor helps your audience to be more receptive to your message and lower their apprehension. Several pastors I know have told me their secret is to begin their message with a self- deprecating story. While this can be fun and endearing it is also an effective way to connect with your audience on a personal level by opening up the window to your life.
The most important factor of all authentic communication is being yourself. People are attracted to others who are authentic and have integrity. Are you the same person on the stage as you are in the community? If a member of your church sees you in their neighborhood, would they approach you and have the same experience with you as they would on a Sunday morning? If not, what would need to change in your life? Do you have to courage to change it?
Nadia Bolz-Weber, founding pastor of Denver's House for All Sinners and Saints and author of Accidental Saints: Finding God in All the Wrong People has said: “Always preach from your scars and not from your wounds.”
2. Incorporate storytelling.
One of the most important key factors for successful storytelling is not to simply tell a story but to paint a picture in people’s minds. In your sermons, use words to describe locations, moments, and feelings as you turn a story from black and white to color.
A good storyteller can touch people emotionally and move them toward action. For example, Human Rights Attorney Bryan Stevenson gave a TED talk in March of 2012 in which over half the time was spent storytelling about the influence of his grandmother and Rosa Parks. As a result, the audience was so impacted that $1M was donated to his cause, Equal Justice Initiative.
Research shows that people will remember your stories and word pictures far more than the information you present to them. It’s imperative you paint your stories in full color, and when possible, use the power of images to accompany your stories.
Remember, the power of a good story is often in the joy, fear, or surprise. Narrate your stories so that your audience can relate to them and become a part of the emotional journey. Your ability to master the art of storytelling will dramatically increase your effectiveness as a communicator.
"Maybe stories are just data with a soul" -Brene Brown, TED Talk, 2012.
Think of some of the best communicators and story-tellers you know. What can you learn from studying their example?
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