Illustrations are the secret missiles of speaking impact.

What makes the best illustrations? Illustrations which pack the right emotional punch to clarify and reinforce your point such that people take action.  These are often stories and anecdotes from past experiences. However, it’s often the case that the best illustrations are rooted in our areas of expertise. 

Let me show you how Joe used his area of expertise on Sunday at our biannual ‘allotment’ service. He is a professional horticulturalist and knows his fuchsia from his fruit tree. As you watch the clip, what do you notice?

I’m guessing you saw at least these three things:

  1. He didn’t need notes
  2. He was able to communicate the illustration while staying engaged with his audience
  3. He was at ease using the illustration

Watching Joe gave me pause to consider whether I’m using enough of my areas of expertise as the source of my illustrations.

As an example, I wonder if I am using my music expertise enough. There are so many potential illustrations within the musical sub-fields of playing piano, singing in choirs, composing, singing practice, piano practise, solo singing, conducting, and much more.

Not all our illustrations can or should come from our areas of expertise (that would be too narrow), but we will be doing ourselves and our listeners a favour if we include them regularly. 

What is your area of expertise? Share how you have used it, or plan to use it in a lesson.

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, practical? Send me your questions or suggestions. Here’s the email:

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“Worship the LORD with gladness; come before him with joyful songs.” (Psalms 100:2 NIV11)

God bless, Malcolm

PS: You might also be interested in my book: “An elephant’s swimming pool”, a devotional look at the Gospel of John