Beyond Ordinary Women Ministries is committed to providing quality help for women leaders. As a result, Dianne Miller and Susie Hawkins provide decades of experience in teaching and training others, and we are so grateful that they are willing to share their time, gifting, and expertise with us.
Recently, I asked them to share some of their thoughts to help all speakers, teachers, and even pastors provide quality messages to their audiences.
Kay: You have both spoken to groups hundreds of times and you have likely listened to thousands of messages from pastors, Bible teachers, and other kinds of speakers. What would you say is the most common mistake made by those of us who speak to Christians?
Susie- I think one of the most common mistakes is speaking too long, not sticking to the time limitations. It’s inconsiderate of your audience and comes across as arrogant. Also, it’s a mistake to cram too much info into the message rather than making a few strong points effectively. You should definitely have a good working knowledge of your topic, but that does not mean you include all that knowledge in your message.
Dianne- Another common mistake is to talk about yourself either too much or not at all. A healthy balance usually means just once or twice in a significant way, without ever denigrating yourself. That only makes the audience uncomfortable and insecure in your message.
Kay: What is the greatest lesson you have learned about your own speaking?
Dianne- Good delivery without good content will be forgotten and good content without good delivery will be forgotten. A growing speaker needs to improve in both areas to be effective.
Kay: How have you adjusted your presentations when your audience includes 20-and-30-somethings?
Susie- That is a good question. I think this generation particularly relates to stories and relationships, so bringing a message from this perspective can be very effective. Also do some research on your topic via social media, you can find excellent illustrations and quotes from the 20/30 somethings.
Kay: What three things elements are necessary for someone to present a message in a way that people will remember it and apply it?
Dianne- Clarity, simplicity, repetition, and direct questions to the audience.
Kay: How would you encourage someone who is gifted as a Bible teacher/speaker?
Susie- If someone really wants to develop speaking skills, he or she needs to take every opportunity presented, even small and seemingly insignificant ones. Also, watch speakers that you admire and note what they do or say that makes them effective.
Dianne- It’s good to remember that teaching/speaking is a skill that can be developed with continuing education and practice. I would also recommend enlisting a mentor who is given permission to honestly critique my messages so that I can work on improving each time.
Kay: Do you have any final words of wisdom for a budding Bible teacher or Christian speaker?
Dianne- Be careful of too casual a use of language. Slang and inappropriate jokes and stories do not add to your message. Develop a balance of relating to your audience with warmth and professionalism.
Susie- Make a herculean effort to eliminate “I mean,” “You know,” “Know what I’m saying?”, “umm,” and especially “like” as in, “I, like, love chocolate.” These phrases don’t communicate well and sound unprofessional. Connect with your audience through eye contact, humor and authenticity and you will be effective!
Kay: Thank you both so much for taking the time to help all of us who teach God’s Word to do a better job. I know that these are great reminders for me of the things I have been taught, but often forget in my busyness. BOW is blessed to have you available to our speakers!