I had been teaching and preaching for forty years when I went to my first SCORRE Conference, which explains a simple way to present any topic. Some may wonder why I would attend such a conference after public speaking for so many years. It wasn’t because I was an inferior speaker, but that I’m a lifelong learner and I love what I do. Any chance to better myself is always welcomed. I would like to share with you what I have learned and put into practice from SCORRE.
Public speaking is one of people’s greatest fears. Individuals who are confident in one-on-one or small groups settings see their confidence flee when they stand behind a podium to make an announcement or give a short presentation. The good news is that it doesn’t have to be this way. Everyone can be an effective public speaker by employing four simple practices.
Before I share these simple practices, I want you to understand that this isn’t about you. That is, the talk you're going to give or the announcement you are making, isn’t about you. Here is an indication that you are too focused on yourself and your fears: the first thing you say is how nervous you are and how you hate doing this. At that point, you’ve given away command by focusing on your fears and dislikes. It may seem that I am lacking compassion in this area, but this isn’t about you and your fears. This event is about delivering the “message” that people need to hear.
Next, as a public speaker, I often find the Holy Spirit convincing me that no matter how strongly I feel about saying something, it isn’t necessarily what He is saying. Don’t despair. I’m not saying you have to have a “thus says the Lord” message. If the task falls to you to stand before a group and give testimony or a simple announcement, reconcile this as something you believe they need to hear. This example may sound like overkill and church announcements normally don’t fall into the category of the importance of a sermon or teaching. However, church announcements play a role in the functions of the church to accomplish something God is doing. Testimonies point to God’s faithfulness, provision, and in some cases a short learning lesson. They all qualify to be said in public because they will serve the Lord and the church. This is the most extended concept to grasp, but it undergirds everything else.
The first simple practice is to decide whether you are going to persuade your audience or empower them. To persuade people would provide them with something they should do. You must give reasons why they should do it. “You should do this because …”. This is a persuasive talk.
To empower would encourage them that they can do something. You would need to follow this type of talk with steps on how to achieve this goal. “You can do this by….”. This is an empowering talk. Additionally, it is essential to be clear in these points without rambling. This leads us to the second practice.
The second simple practice is the hardest part of preparation. This principle is found in a few steps. In organizing your talk, begin with your 1. topic/subject, 2. develop a overall theme and 3. construct an objective statement.
Here’s an example of using the subject of “Defending the Faith”. My theme is the “need to defend the faith.” My objective statement is: Everyone either should learn to do this or can learn to do this. It’s decision time.
If I want to persuade people that they should learn to defend their faith, I must tell them why. I can do this by presenting either the challenges to the Christian faith or perhaps the mandate that every Christian should do this as part of their Christian calling. So my objective statement could sound something like this: Every Christian should learn to defend their faith because of the current challenges the church faces. Notice the “should” and the “because” in my statement. That could be a simple announcement for an upcoming class or the objective statement for teaching or preaching.
Here’s a simple example about persuading people to participate in small groups: Everyone should attend a small group because the benefits they provide are edifying to the church. Now I only have to list the benefits. Notice again that benefits are plural as were “challenges” in the previous example. This step strengthens your reason for persuasion.
If you want to empower people to defend their faith your objective statement could be, Every Christian can learn to defend their faith by learning these three important concepts. Or, Every Christian can participate in small groups by committing themselves to 3 principles of growth.
The third simple practice is if you have the time, provide brief illustrations for each of your points. List your benefits for participating in small groups and give a short example how this benefits the church, such as building relationships or recognizing gifts.
The fourth simple practice is not the least and extremely important. Evaluate! Go back over your notes and evaluate. Look to see if everything you’ve written down is strictly in line with your objective statement. It is tempting to either leave this step out or just gloss over your notes. This is a mistake. Often, you’ll catch details that will not add but only take away from the point(s) you’re trying to make. I repeat: don’t skip over this step.
In closing, I would suggest sticking to your notes, at least until you memorize your objective statement and the points you are going to make.
Tony Moss, Pastor of Long Branch Covenant Church, put together a helpful short explanation of the SCORRE method. I changed the order to fit with my outline here. See below.
• Choose your approach: persuasion or empowerment?
- Are you telling people they “should” or they “can”?
- “Should” will lead you to say: “why” or “because”
- “Can” will lead you to say “by” or “how”
- This will also help clarify your key thought in your mind
• Make your topic specific.
- Clarity is essential, without it your content becomes muddled
- With a short talk, less is always more (better)
- Too much information is a trap
-It allows minor points to overshadow your main point
- Example: “Angel Tree” is a broad topic, “The Blessings of Angel Tree” is narrower,
and “Your Role in Angel Tree” is even more specific.
• Write a “key thought” sentence (objective statement).
- It should summarize all you want to say in one thought
- Everything you say should directly support it
- This is the key to clarity; it forces focus
- It helps you decide what to put in or leave out
- Each story or illustration should support the key thought
• Evaluate: rehearse and make adjustments
- Record your talk and listen to it
- Ask someone to listen to you (and time you)
- Check that you are:
• Loud enough • Speaking clearly
• Not too fast • Not too slow
• Making eye contact • Using emphasis wisely
If you’re interested in the SCORRE Conference itself follow this link:
Practice this methodology before you have to make the announcements or present a teaching. Choose a subject, develop the theme and then write the objective statement. I practiced by picking things at random. Doing this will help you have command at the podium.