I talk a lot – – a whole lot. Most of my speaking is in public and before large groups of people.
Not only do I speak a lot, I also listen to other people speak as well.
Here are four areas I think you must avoid in order to be a good public speaker.
First, don’t get off your subject. A good public speaker needs to know what he is speaking about, and he needs to stick to it.
We all have heard people who “rambled.” What that means is that they didn’t stick with their subject. Instead, they went from one subject or idea to another without any preparation or plan.
Sticking with your subject means you must prepare and must have an outline. You must know where you’re going before you stand to speak.
Second, don’t waste your listeners time. Use an economy of words and phrases. In writing and in speaking, less is usually better than more. Get to the point. Be succinct.
Your listeners will appreciate your being considerate of their time.
Third, don’t make excuses. I first learned this from Vernon Stanfield who taught preaching at New Orleans Baptist theological seminary. He told his students not to make excuses. There will be plenty of times when you didn’t sleep well or the events of the week hurt your preparation time, but you don’t say that to your audience. You get up and do your best without making excuses.
Any time I hear a speaker give excuses for why the presentation will not be good, I think of Vernon Stanfield. If you make an excuse, you have programmed your audience to zone out.
Fourth don’t make your message about you. Even presidential candidates should not make their speech about themselves. It should be about what they can do for the country. Sell your vision and you sell yourself.
Preachers, especially, should not be speaking about themselves. It’s easy to fall into this trap, but don’t let it happen. Remember who you are and who you’re preaching about.
To be a pastor and preacher is a great calling. Do your very best.