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Business Week on Tips to Speaking Effectively

7 February 2008

Sometimes in reading blogs and in listening to lectures on preaching (particularly lectures on expository preaching) I get the idea that there is something evil about paying attention to technique.  At least recently, I have been inundated with content that stresses that the Word itself is what has power (which is true).

But I also believe that just as how you dress or how you speak can help or hinder the message, so how you present the message can help people hear the message of the Holy Spirit better or worse.  Call that heresy, but I grow weary of expositional purists who sneer at learning the basics on communication skill. 

Towards that end, I was reminded of some basics in an article that is about a year old from Business Week.  The article is not about preaching, but is about presentations, specifically business presentations.  And yet, should we who handle the gospel of truth be just as aware of and motivated to use the skills that enable people to hear our message even more than those who do so for sales or business advancement?  At least I hope we would.

Here are four tips to Speaking Effectively from Carmine Gallo: 

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 The Hook: Listeners make up their minds about a speaker in the first 30 to 90 seconds, which means you have less then two minutes to make a lasting first impression.  Start with the end in mind.  Alert your audience that their world can (and probably should) change, and then hit them over the head with it right out of the gate.

Brevity:  Research shows our attention span drops dramatically after approximately 18 minutes.  15-18 minutes is what speaker coach Carmine Gallo calls the "window of impact" to get you re message across.   If your message needs to run longer, then break it up after 10 or 15 minutes.  She a piece of video or hold a demonstration.  Break up the monotony so your audience doesn’t get bored.  Shorter really is stronger.

Visual impact: When you do view a slide show on video from the perspective of your audience, is it hard to read?  Do you have too much text?  Replace text and bullets with highly visual, graphic representations.  The most exciting presentations have few, if any, slides just bullets.

Adapted from "The Camera Doesn’t Lie", Carmine Gallo, Business Week, 1/3/07

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