Since communication is 75-80% of a speaker’s responsibility it makes sense that it should take up about 75-80% of his time. However, I’ve found that most speaking pastors put way too much pressure on themselves by doing it all alone and then they become the bottleneck.
Don’t Create Alone
When you prepare and create your talks alone you will become predictable and the higher the predictability the lower the learning will be for your audience. Share the creative process with others on your team as you do you will discover several benefits:
- It will alleviate speaker stress.
- You will multiply the talent base in your organization.
- You will mentor other communicators through the process. (You need some other great communicators so you can take breaks, you want them to be able to keep the quality up while you are away – it’s a reflection on your leadership!)
With team creativity the workload doesn’t change, but the distribution of it will. In other words as a speaker/leader, the less you do the more you will accomplish!
Makeup Of A Creative Team Meeting
I meet with my team every Tuesday afternoon. That means I have to be completely ready with where I feel I’m going for the weekend talk in order for them to have creative input. Not only do I have the coming weekend talk ready for them to give input but we always look a few weeks ahead at what’s coming, this allow for even greater creativity. Great talks take time!
We typically meet for about an hour and a half. My team comes to the meetings prepared to have input, challenge me, and be fully engaged. It’s always great to add or subtract people from the meetings for variety. There are no guaranteed seats at a creative team meeting. And most important, we have a great time together, if you are not having fun in this process something is wrong!
Here are a few things we focus on during our meetings:
- What is the big idea? We want to be able to write the message in one memorable sentence. If you can’t, then your audience probably won’t remember it either.
- Focus on the intro and closing. It always surprises me to hear a speaker give a great talk and a weak closing. It’s like talking with a salesman who sells you on his product but never ask you to buy!?
- Focus on transitions. If you cannot transition smoothly the crowd will not transition in their thinking smoothly. Every weak transition gives them a moment to disengage and focus on their busy lives.
- Use but don’t overuse creative elements such as videos and visuals. Our team is brutal with ideas regarding creative elements. We may invest a lot of man hours in a video and at our Tuesday meeting decide to throw it out because it’s not up to our standard or simply does not add the value we thought it would add.
- The team always challenges me to make it personal. If not my own experience, they will share theirs and give me permission to use them as an illustration. It’s important for the crowd to relate to your entire staff as real people who are experiencing growth and constantly being challenged.
- We always ask “what’s in it for me?” because that’s what everyone sitting in the chairs listening is asking. If we can’t answer this question we know we are not ready to communicate with excellence. There are times as a follower of Christ that “what’s in it for me” is answered with the fact that we need to obey – and that’s OK as long as I know going into the talk that I am teaching toward that conclusion.
- We always make sure we are focusing on a balanced diet during our talks. Just like all of life, your crowd lives in seasons or cycles. During times of steady attendance we focus on high commitment topics that will help those who are committed to grow to be more like Jesus. And during times of attendance fluctuation, natural vacation periods for families, holidays, etc, we focus on important issues for spiritual balance. These topics are designed to mature followers of Jesus to become informed followers of Jesus.
I would encourage you if you are a communicator, a speaker, a teaching pastor, sweat the small stuff – in other words really wrestle with how you are communicating. Your life is primarily preparation for your communication. Be aware of it constantly; and most important – have fun and have a team that is taking the journey with you who will have fun as well!