How to become a better preacher: Prepare, preach, & progress
December 16, 2022
4 min read
Even sermons (especially sermons?) require sincerity, skill, and practice to make them as compelling as possible. You’ve undoubtedly heard some bad preaching, and you might have been the perpetrator at times (I know I have been). There’s a remedy for that.
With a new year comes the opportunity to set some goals about your preaching. One year from now, you can be a better preacher than you are today. Let’s look at a few ideas on how to become a better preacher in 2023 and beyond.
How preaching is like other public speaking
Although preaching has a unique imperative, it’s still a form of public speaking, so many of the same “rules” of public speaking apply. A good speaker aims to accomplish several tasks:
Get and hold people’s attention. If you don’t, your message will go unheard. Don’t let it be wasted.
Effectively get your message across. If you speak in a way that’s confusing, your message won’t be understood. If your message isn’t delivered in a logical, structured flow, people will struggle to follow you. If you deliver your sermon with distractions, your message might be lost.
Inform people. Part of preaching is teaching. You’re sharing deep concepts and helping people understand them.
Persuade people. You aim to convince people that what you’re saying is true and important.
Motivate people. You want people to do more than know, understand, and believe; you want them to act.
Also, as with all public speaking, a good preacher is sincere, skilled, and prepared:
Sincerity – If you don’t mean it, don’t say it. If you don’t believe it, don’t ask others to. A good speaker speaks with a passion that comes from an earnest ownership of the message they share.
Skill – Good speakers have skills that they continue to sharpen. These skills involve word choice, inclusive speech, eye contact, etc.
Preparation – Good speakers are prepared. Unless you’re delivering an impromptu speech, you should plan what you’re going to say and practice it. Not only does preparation help you deliver a better planned speech, but it will help you become a better impromptu speaker because of the skills you’re developing and the experience you’re getting.
How to become a better preacher: 3 steps to take
Now that we’ve laid a foundation, I’ll share a few practical tips on how to become a better preacher in the new year.
Step 1: Prepare
Drawing on the concepts I already discussed, prepare what you’re going to say and how you’re going to say it. Then, practice your sermon with Yoodli’s free feedback tool. You’ll receive immediate insights on several aspects of your sermon, including the following:
Filler words – How many times did you say um and you know?
Weak words – Do you dilute your message with basically and really?
Top keywords – What words did you say the most? Were you on message?
Non inclusiveness – Did you use language that needlessly offends people or makes people feel left out?
Eye contact – How often did you make eye contact with the congregation? Will they get the sense that you’re connecting with them or that you’re tied to your notes?
Smiles – Did you smile at appropriate times, expressing warmth and joy? (Remember, what you’re preaching is supposed to be good news.)
Pacing – Did you speak at a speed that allows people to follow you without putting them to sleep?
Yoodli will also help you know what goals you should set in these areas, so you can track your progress over time.
Step 2: Preach
Once you’re ready, eagerly get up there and share what has been put on your heart. The more prepared you are, the more can speak from your heart. And, if you have confidence in the message, you needn’t be timid or apologetic.
Step 3: Progress
Now that you’ve delivered your sermon, get feedback from people. Don’t seek approval or praise; just sincerely desire to grow. You may ask for feedback informally, and you could periodically use more formal feedback questionnaires with a select group of people who support your growth.
I’ll share with you portions of three feedback questionnaires that I’ve used. Notice how each one asks more of the feedback giver than the previous one. Mix these up over time, customize them, and use them with a variety of audiences.
Was the message consistent with the mission?
Did the preacher get and keep your attention?
Did the preacher express passion and sincerity?
Was the message relevant to people’s lives?
Was the main point of the message obvious?
Did the message encourage you to do something concrete?
What went right?
What went wrong?
What was missing?
What was confusing?
Notice that this questionnaire addresses the same elements as Questionnaire 1, but it asks open-ended questions rather than Yes/No questions.
How consistent with the church’s mission was the message?
How well did the preacher get and keep your attention?
How well did the preacher express passion and sincerity?
How relevant was the message to people’s lives?
What was the main point of the message?
What concrete action did the message encourage you to take?
If you’re called to preach, you have a precious responsibility and gift. But, even gifts must be practiced and improved. In 2023, resolve to make the most of the gift you have. That’s the best way you can honor it and make a difference in the new year and beyond. Get started at http://www.yoodli.ai to start preparing for your next sermon!
Start practicing with Yoodli.
Getting better at speaking is getting easier. Record or upload a speech and let our AI Speech Coach analyze your speaking and give you feedback.