Tips for creative talks

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Ultimately most brilliant sermons have one sole underlying characteristic (apart from God's Spirit!) and that the speaker understood: KISS: Keep it simple, Stupid!

  • Application, application, application: remember what is the point -- what is God wanting to say to, or wishing to do in, the people you are speaking to (pray as much as you prepare).
  • Make one point three times not three points one time
  • Try to stay on time: if in doubt cut it out! Practice hard. Get someone in the congregation to wave at you when you have 10 minutes left and then 5 minutes!
  • Firmly understand the message and the background to what you are saying: creativity does not mean a lower level of study!
  • Try to make use of the different ways people learn: big picture thinkers, concrete examples, real life examples, illustrations, artistically (poetry, pictures etc.), in humorous and relaxed settings, making people think for themselves
  • Use of powerpoint and other media (video clips, music etc.) The use of multimedia can add much to a talk however it is not easy to do right. Practice and build up simply.
  • When seeking feedback from your audience ask broad questions: "What do you think Paul means here?", rather than, "So who was raised from the dead after three days?". Give people space to explore their answers. To narrow a question makes people feel uncomfortable. Be prepared to deal with people's off beam answers.
  • Interviews or Panels are a great way to explain a subject based in peoples real life experiences
  • Make use of broad discussion questions, case studies and moral dilemmas (role plays!)to get people talking and working together to solve the problem and hence make an application of your teaching. Don't be afraid to get people studying a small passage in a group and then feeding back what they have discovered. Build your talk on their responses!
  • Use visual ways to help people respond. Ask them to write down one or two things they need to do following the talk. If it is sin to confess they could write it and throw it on a pile to burn. They could pin a poem, a sentence of commitment to a wooden cross. Get them washing their hands in cleansing or rubbing oil on them to anoint them for service etc. giving people something to take away can help (seeds, stones etc.)
  • Be yourself and be confident! Don't try to be like anyone else in your style but borrow and improve ideas at will! If you want some help ask check your ideas through someone first.
  • Try to plan your sermon to achieve outcomes: What does God (and you) want them to Know (mentally), know (skill wise), Feel and Experience. What is most important for you talk? Plan that first. e.g. if it is to Feel the love of God in forgiveness you may want to spend less time in deep exegesis on a point.
  • Seek and accept feedback and constructive criticism

Examples

  1. Talk about Fear of the Lord.
    • Take the key verses you wish to use. Get people in groups reading the verses. Prepare some questions on paper like "What does this passage teach us about Fear of the Lord?"
    • Get each group to feedback and pull the whole sermon together using only short periods of you speaking introducing each idea and commenting on their responses.
    • Finish with a form of commitment by getting everyone to write on a slip of paper: "I choose to Fear the Lord in the following area(s)..."
  2. Talk on sex and sexuality
    • Following the talk get people to spend time solving a dilemma and reporting back to you. Try to make the dilemma's as real (i.e specific) and applicable (i.e. universal) as possible!
  3. Talk on Loving money
    • To firmly make the point that we are very rich people get everybody to calculate the exact amount of money on them.
    • Then add in the cost of Jewelry, clothes, Mobile phones whatever they have on their person.
    • Get people to feed back how much they add up to (<50€, <100€, <500€, etc.). Finally show a comparison chart with the annual income of the worlds poorest nations. It is somewhat shocking but makes the point well.

The 10 commandments of TED Talks

Those invited to make a TED presentation receive a copy of a Guide and of these "Commandments":

  1. Thou Shalt Not Simply Trot Out thy Usual Shtick.
  2. Thou Shalt Dream a Great Dream, or Show Forth a Wondrous New Thing, Or Share Something Thou Hast Never Shared Before.
  3. Thou Shalt Reveal thy Curiosity and thy Passion.
  4. Thou Shalt Tell a Story.
  5. Thou Shalt Freely Comment on the Utterances of Other Speakers for the Sake of Blessed Connection and Exquisite Controversy.
  6. Thou Shalt Not Flaunt Thine Ego. Be Thou Vulnerable. Speak of thy Failure as well as thy Success.
  7. Thou Shalt Not Sell from the Stage: Neither thy Company, thy Goods, thy Writings, nor thy Desperate need for Funding; Lest Thou be Cast Aside into Outer Darkness.
  8. Thou Shalt Remember all the while: Laughter is Good.
  9. Thou Shalt Not Read thy Speech.
  10. Thou Shalt Not Steal the Time of Them.

(retrieved from a comment on Amazon)