March 5, 2012

Growing As A Communicator

Everyone has to communicate, & most of us have to communicate verbally. Whether you are a stay at home mom, a pastor, a business owner, or a salesperson in the retail world, communication is a big part of what you do. However, it's also something that terrifies a lot of people, especially the idea of some sort of public communication. This week I want to share a few things that I've learned & that help me to be a better communicator & a communicator that is constantly looking to improve.

1) Know Your Message
This sounds like a no-brainer, but it's shocking how many times I've had to listen to someone speak who obviously spent no time actually figuring out what they wanted to say. Recently I sat & listened to someone speak for almost 45 minutes & at the end a bunch of random information had been thrown at me & the audience, but there was no cohesive message. Know what you want to say. Don't talk until you do. Whether you're about to have a discussion with one of your kids or give a presentation at work, you have to know your message. One good rule of thumb I try to abide by is this: Can I distill my message into one memorable statement? If I can do that & then support it & reiterate it throughout a message, there's a better chance that it will be remembered & acted upon.

2) Plan Ahead
This isn't always possible, but most of the time it is. As a pastor who speaks pretty much every week, I know that people expect me to have something to say to them, & hopefully it's something worth paying attention to. Again this seems obvious, but if you wait until the last minute, you may not have anything to say or you may not find a way to say it so that it's actually absorbed. If you have a role where you're communicating to a group regularly, plan it out ahead of time. In my role as a pastor, I go into a year with an entire year planned out. For example, right now I know what my plan is for my Christmas teaching series. For those who say that this doesn't allow you room for spontaneity or the Spirit's leading, the reverse is actually true. Planning ahead actually gives you more freedom to adjust on the fly. If you're living week to week as a communicator, you literally do not have time to think about the bigger picture of your communication. Typically I try to stay anywhere from 2 weeks to 4 weeks ahead in actual completed sermons, & I plan a rough teaching plan for an entire year. It gives me a plan to follow, but it also gives me room for flexibility when the plan may need to be altered.

Throughout the week I'll share some other things I've picked up & lessons I've learned the hard way over my years in ministry & as a communicator. Feel free to share any insights you may have or tips you have that have helped you grow as a communicator.

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