February 14, 2022
I've taught several classes on preaching over the course of my career and I'm fond of a maxim I didn't invent but have used again and again. It goes something like this:
- Tell 'em what you're going to tell 'em.
- Tell 'em.
- Then tell 'em what you told 'em.
This is the reason I start every one of my preached messages with a "point to remember" on which I "hang" the rest of my message. When I'm writing, I try to have a purpose statement of the book's theme and evaluate all the chapters and content against that statement. Here's how this simple trilogy of phrases can help you in your teaching or writing or speaking.
- Tell 'em what you're going to tell 'em. If you can't summarize what you're about to communicate in a clear and concise manner, your communication will be garbled or disjointed. This plays out in a book by making a clear statement in the introduction of who you are and what the reader can expect to learn in the coming pages.
- Tell 'em. Once you spell out a general outline of your content, then produce the goods and fulfill your promise of what you said you would deliver. Don't be in a hurry and don't assume your reader/listener knows what you're presenting. Be thorough and deliberate and it's not about your style, but how your style contributes to delivering your content.
- Tell 'em what you told 'em. Don't be afraid to repeat what you've presented. I urge writers to conclude their chapters with summary points along with questions to help the reader apply the material. If you're speaking, have a regular review of the points you've made. When writing or speaking, consider a clear conclusion at the end of your class, speech, or manuscript. By doing so, the reader will have no doubt as to the most important points you've made, those things you want them to take with them when you or they are finished.
Remember, the goal isn't for you to finish writing or speaking. The goal is some desired result in the minds or hearts of your readers or listeners. There's another saying that applies here and that's "the proof of the pudding is in the eating." It's not about you and what you did to communicate, but whether or not the listener or reader heard and comprehended what you meant to say or write. If you cook up a great message, but they can't "eat" or "consume" it, then you've failed. If you follow these three simple steps, however, you'll be considered an effective communicator even if you aren't the most dynamic writer or speaker in the world. And effectiveness and not "splash" is what good communication is all about.