Tell 'Em

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 Screen Shot 2022-02-14 at 3.33.59 PMagain 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.

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.

Screen Shot 2022-02-14 at 3.34.33 PMRemember, 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.

W51D3 - Communication

"In the first year of Cyrus king of Persia, in order to fulfill the word of the Lord spoken by Jeremiah, the Lord moved the heart of Cyrus king of Persia to make a proclamation throughout his realm and also to put it in writing: 'This is what Cyrus king of Persia says: '‘The Lord, the God of heaven, has given me all the kingdoms of the earth and he has appointed me to build a temple for him at Jerusalem in Judah'" - Ezra 1:1-3.

Cyrus was king of a sprawling kingdom when the Lord moved on his heart to rebuild the Temple site. The first thing Cyrus did was to communicate his plans throughout his kingdom. How did he do that? He first wrote his plans down and then used the social media and technology of his day to disseminate the information to as many people as they can. Leaders must be committed to broadcast their messages as widely as possible on a regular basis, which means they must be good writers who appreciate and utilize the communication media available to them. That also means that leaders must work to stay relevant, not only in what they communicate but also in how they communicate it.

LEADERSHIP STEP: Your Step today is to conduct a personal communications audit. How much time do you spend communicating what is most important to you, along with your current insights and ideas? How do you communicate? Do you use the most recent social media? Are you a good (or at least adequate) writer and speaker and are you working to improve? Do you allow any personal bias to discredit and dismiss modern technology and its use? Would people say you are an effective communicator?

W46D5 - Personal Development

"And the word of the Lord came again to Zechariah: 'This is what the Lord Almighty said: ‘Administer true justice; show mercy and compassion to one another. Do not oppress the widow or the fatherless, the foreigner or the poor. Do not plot evil against each other'" - Zechariah 7:8-10.

Personal development involves spiritual growth and development. In the verses above, the Lord spoke to His people through the prophet and outlined His plan for their development. That plan included: 1) dispensing true justice; 2) showing mercy to others; 3) being moved by compassion; 4) helping the helpless; 5) empowering the powerless; and 6) avoiding plots and plans harmful to others. Leaders should adopt this outline as a list of personal values they can pursue and express that will make their leadership more gentle, kind, and sensitive to the needs of other people, especially the poor and downtrodden..

LEADERSHIP STEP: Your Step today is to lay out a leadership and personal development plan that includes the points mentioned in today's verses. For today, focus on one of the six points in this devotional and think of ways you can develop that particular area or practice. For example, if you choose point six, consider how painful it is to 'hatch' plans that affect people's lives without their input—and then determine to be more inclusive in your planning and subsequent communication with others.

W46D3 - Communication

"I have much to write to you, but I do not want to use paper and ink. Instead, I hope to visit you and talk with you face to face, so that our joy may be complete" - 2 John 1:12.

The apostles didn't hesitate to use the technology of their daythe Roman road system, ink, and scrollsto disseminate their teaching and pastoral advice to their flock all over the known world. Yet in today's verse, John preferred to communicate through a face-to-face encounter as opposed to the written word. Leaders must not only be committed to communicate, they must be willing to use and be proficient in modern technologies. Yet there is still great value in personal meetings, although leaders mustn't rely too much on technology and eliminate the personal touch that enables them to read body language, tone of voice, and other physical clues and cues from those with whom they are communicating.

LEADERSHIP STEP: Your Step today is to evaluate your use of technology in your communication strategy. Are you confident in your proficiency or do you take pride in your refusal to use it? If you are proficient, are you over-using it to the extent that you neglect or avoid personal contact and face-to-face meetings? Do you have a communications strategy, knowing what you want to share with followers and interested parties, along with how and when you will share it?

W41D3 - Communication

"The Lord said to Moses, 'Speak to the entire assembly of Israel and say to them: ‘Be holy because I, the Lord your God, am holy'" - Leviticus 19:1-2.

It may seem like stating the obvious, but God is a great communicator and understands how to get His message across. In this verse, He began talking to Moses about what is known as the Ten Commandments. He directed Moses to speak to Israel, then He told Moses to put the message in writing. Then Moses repeated those Commandments, both in speech and written form, so there would be no doubt in Israel what was expected of them and what was important to the Lord. Leaders must follow this example and be clear in their communication. They must be willing to 'say' or repeat their message in more than one medium until the meaning takes hold in the minds of the listeners in the way the leaders intended.

LEADERSHIP STEP: Your Step today is to examine your ability to communicate the vision, mission, or values of your organization. How often do you talk about the vision or mission? Can people repeat back to you what the vision is? Do you review and repeat to followers what is most important to you and the organization? Do you state those things using more than one medium, like video, articles, or staff meetings? How can you be sure the people are getting the message?

W36D3 - Communication

"The Lord called to Moses and spoke to him from the tent of meeting. He said, 'Speak to the Israelites and say to them: ‘When anyone among you brings an offering to the Lord, bring as your offering an animal from either the herd or the flock'" - Leviticus 1:1-2.

As Israel's leader, Moses received special insight about their mode of worship. This insight wasn't just for him, but was to be communicated to all his people. Several factors were involved in this communication. First, Israel had to know and trust Moses. Second, Moses had to be clear in his communication. Third, the message had to be communicated to millions of followers, so there had to be reliable lines of clear communication to disseminate the information. Finally, Moses spoke and wrote the communication, and repeated what he taught in one huge review found later in the book of Deuteronomy. Every step is just as relevant and important for modern leaders as they communicate with their followers, regardless of the business they are in.

LEADERSHIP STEP: Your Step today is to evaluate the communication practices of your leadership style. Do you have the credibility and recognition Moses had that will enhance your messages? Are you clear when you communicate? Do you have lines of communication in your organization through which messages flow quickly to those who need them? Finally, do you say things more than once using multiple media to ensure your messages are received and understood?

W31D3 - Communication

"So Joshua ordered the officers of the people: 'Go through the camp and tell the people, ‘Get your provisions ready. Three days from now you will cross the Jordan here to go in and take possession of the land the Lord your God is giving you for your own'" - Joshua 1:10-11.

Joshua had to communicate to millions of followers and he did so by using others to communicate a clear and simple message: it’s time to move on so get ready. It would make sense that these followers not only knew Joshua, but also the officers who were communicating the message to them. They therefore knew the message could be trusted and was important, so all were on the same page, so to speak. Everyone knew to get ready for change. Leaders need to develop this same kind of communication network, with a clear and simple messages, and also work to ensure the people are paying attention and that the same message is being communicated throughout the organization.

LEADERSHIP STEP: Today's Step is to consider and evaluate your communication network. Are you paying attention to its regular upkeep? Are you credible, consistent, and clear in your communications? Does your leadership team spread the word with the same efficiency and urgency? Are your meetings all they can be as a communication tool? Of course, if you don't have credibility as a leader, then people won't pay attention no matter how regularly you talk of what media you use to do so.

W26D3 - Communication

"Utterly amazed, they asked: 'Aren’t all these who are speaking Galileans? Then how is it that each of us hears them in our native language?'" - Acts 2:8-9.

In Genesis 11, God confused language and people could no longer understand one another. In Acts 2, God reversed that and enabled people to understand one another even though they were speaking different languages. The difference: God got involved and the people were speaking about the things of God. Leaders must also help their people communicate and understand one another (and the leaders) so everyone is on the same page. This can be a time-consuming, frustrating process, but well worth the effort. Those refusing to make the effort resort to orders, edicts, and impersonal memos, relying on their power and authority to get their way instead of building a consensus or allowing people the time to obtain understanding and communication breakthroughs.

LEADERSHIP STEP: How much do you involve yourself as a leader in the communication processes in your organization? Do people have access to you for clarification and deeper discussions? Your Step today is to set a time this week for an informal gathering, but the agenda is not of your choosing. Anyone from your department or company can come and they build the agenda of what you will talk about. They can submit topics in advance or simply ask questions. This is just one of many steps you need to take to ensure that there is a good communication flow in your organization (or family).

W21D3 - Communication

"So it is with you. Unless you speak intelligible words with your tongue, how will anyone know  what you are saying? You will just be speaking into the air" - 1 Corinthians 14:9.

It is important that leaders are clear in their communication with others, and that includes their followers, peers, customers, clients, suppliers, and the public at large. This requires not only the proper words usage, but also that the message leaders communicate is clear and that they use the appropriate media to relay the message. What's more, leaders must have the credibility that comes from being a role model and having integrity for the message to be received and believed by others. Finally, giving people a chance to ask questions or to give some other kind of feedback will let leaders know if they hit the mark where their communication is concerned.

LEADERSHIP STEP: The only way you can know if you are communicating effectively is to seek feedback from your audience and listeners. One practice you can use is to institute a five-minute wrap up at the end of every meeting you have when everyone gives you feedback on what the group had just decided and who is going to do what by when. Another method is to ask people after a speech or memo to tell you what you just said and its impact on their work or lives.

W16D3 - Communication

"After this letter has been read to you, see that it is also read in the church of the Laodiceans and that you in turn read the letter from Laodicea" - Colossians 4:16.

Paul used the technology of his day—letters and the Roman system of roads and ships—to communicate with his followers and inform them of his latest plans and insights. When he sent this particular letter to Colossae, he made sure they would circulate it among the other local churches. The point is that leaders should use whatever means possible to spread their 'word' to those who need to hear or can benefit from it. If Paul was alive today, he would undoubtedly use all the social media channels to disseminate his message. Modern leaders should do the same.

LEADERSHIP STEP: Are you up to speed on the media available to you to communicate with those who need or want to hear from you? Stop talking about getting with the technology and do it. Identify someone to help and then make time to learn about and register for Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, or any other media you could benefit from using. If you already have an account with those social media, then spend your time today strategizing how you will use them more effectively.