Preaching is an art and a science. Every now and then, I get to interact with one of the young communicators on our team to coach them in their platform speaking, and I always come back to three metrics: presence, delivery, and content. Those seem to be the three ingredients that make good communicators. The categories are not hard and fast; they bleed into one another, play off one another, and affect one another. But they give us some handles for thinking through how we can grow as communicators. Good preachers do all of these well but tend to excel in one in particular.
Content is the science, and I believe it’s the most important. If you don’t have solid Biblical content, it doesn’t matter how great a speaker you are or how engaging your personality is. Content is the way we unpack the text, craft the message, and communicate the truth. Tim Keller, Matt Chandler, and Beth Moore are high content communicators.
Delivery is the art, and it’s the variable that determines how well the content is received. Delivery is the way we package the message verbally and visually and we have to pay attention to tone, tenor, and tempo. When it comes to delivery, I’m thinking through the pace, the emotion, and the connection between preacher and congregation. Louie Giglio, Perry Noble, and Christine Caine are great delivery communicators.
Presence is the X Factor. That intangible variable that you can’t really teach or develop; it just seems that some people have it. Presence is the magnet that draws people in. You are captivated by and dialed into communicators with presence– whether you want to believe what they are saying or not. They are often immediately likable and can tackle tough topics with incredible grace. Francis Chan, Mark Batterson, and Priscilla Shirer have presence in spades.
And then you’ve got triple threats like Andy Stanley who do it all really well.
If you want to grow as a communicator, listen to good communicators. Listen to preachers outside your own tradition and denominational streams. Pay attention to what they do well. Who do you listen to?