Preparing to Speak Well

In this series on public speaking, I have written several “tips” and “secrets” ( of speaking well in public, but I really know of only the following secret.

Work hard and prepare well.

Public speaking is difficult. It requires hard work and good preparation. Next week, I will write about oral preparation. Today, I want to write about written preparation.

Public speaking cannot be done on the fly or on the spur of the moment. Speaking well in public requires that you give it thought and prayer and plenty of time to get ready for it. You might want to read about this idea here. ( You can find all of my posts on public speaking under the “Pastoral Leadership” category.

Here’s what I do.

First, I determine the need. Is there really any reason to speak on something that people don’t need? Determine the need of the audience and prepare to help them meet that need. As you meet the need at hand, make sure that you are passionate about the solution to the problem. Your passion and desire to change things as they are will make your preparation that much better and that much easier.

Second, I determine the main idea of the message. An old joke about preaching asks how many points a good sermon should have. The answer? A good sermon should have at least one point.

I would suggest that a good speech or sermon has only one point. That one important and vital point should be examined and “hammered” by the speaker. No one leaving the speech should have any question about what the message was about. I consider it the highest compliment when a lower elementary student gets the point of the message. When the sermon or speech is completed, nothing should come to mind about the message more than the main point.

Don’t allow yourself to “chase rabbits” or to get off the message. Knowing the main point and preparing well will really help your speech.

Third, I outline the message. I do my best to make my outline simple and memorable. I also try to answer a question concerning the need that the audience has. Each of the points of the outline should support the main idea. Generally, only a few points are required to make the main point of the message.

Finally, I ask the audience to do something. No one should speak for the sake of speaking. We should speak to challenge the audience to action. Be sure to think through how you will ask the audience to act and what you will ask them to do.

As you work hard and prepare well, you will be a blessing to others with your message.

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