Teaching Tip 362 | “Plain Speaking – five things that can spoil an otherwise good sermon” | Malcolm Cox

Here is your 2-minute tip based on the book, “Plain speaking: How to preach and teach effectively” by David Bercot.

As a delicious dish can be ruined by one lousy ingredient, so a good lesson can be spoiled by small distractions. What might seem a minor detail to you as a speaker may appear majorly problematic to your hearers. Bercot offers us five issues to consider.

  1. Mispronunciation. The odd word here or there is no big deal. However, if it is crucial to your topic it is a big deal. Mispronouncing an important word destroys your credibility and leads to significant distraction. Imagine a doctor mispronouncing the name of your medical condition. How would you feel?
  2. Poor Posture and Distracting Movements. Stand and move in a manner appropriate to your context. Some church contexts suit more movement than others. How people are seated, the sight lines and amplification system will have an impact. In general, refrain from pacing ‘continually back and forth, like a zoo animal in its cage’ (92), but also from being too stiff like an army sentry.
  3. Inappropriate Dress and Slovenly Appearance. Bend your preferences to the culture of the place where you will be speaking. You are not the focus; God is. You are up there to serve. Anything out of place—a suit where people wear jeans, or jeans where people wear suits—will distract your audience from the message.
  4. Using ‘Word Whiskers’. These are words of phrases also known as ‘fillers’. We want to avoid, “um”, “OK”, “you see”, “y’know” — especially when liberally sprinkled throughout a talk without meaningful purpose. The best way to work on this is to record yourself and write down such fillers. The best way to cut them out is to speak more slowly and pause, rather than ‘fill’ with a ’word whisker’.
  5. Going Over Your Allotted Time. In almost 40 years of preaching, I have never—not once—annoyed my listeners by being too short. The opposite is not the case. More on this in the next episode.

What are your thoughts on the five issues Bercot addresses? What other problems have we missed?

Next time, we will go on to look at landing your plane on time.

Has today’s tip been worth two minutes of your time? I hope so.

Remember to keep calm and carry on teaching.

Consider joining AIM UK&Ireland to develop your understanding of Scripture: https://aimukandireland.com/. Our next module is Spiritual Life.

Contact us here with enquiries: courses@aimukandireland.com

The website can be found here: https://aimukandireland.com

Please add your comments on this week’s topic. We learn best when we learn in community.

Do you have a question about teaching the Bible? Is it theological, technical, or practical? Send me your questions or suggestions. Here’s the email: malcolm@malcolmcox.org.

If you’d like a copy of my free eBook on spiritual disciplines, “How God grows His people”, sign up at my website: http://www.malcolmcox.org.

Please pass the link on, subscribe, and leave a review.

Remember to keep calm, and carry on teaching.

God bless, Malcolm