I preached with notes for a decade, sometimes extensive, sometimes brief. Three years ago I switched to preaching without notes. I would not go back. I’m pretty sure that Mike preaches with some notes and does so very effectively. We’ll get his thoughts on this subject soon. There are more important things than whether you preach with or without notes. It’s more important to be Biblical, to have clear big idea, specific purpose and relevance. So I would not make a definitive case for no notes as opposed to with notes or with manuscript preaching (although to be honest I have yet to see someone who can read a manuscript effectively in preaching). However, this issue is important since delivery is a key element in preaching.
So why do I advocate and encourage no notes preaching? Preaching without notes increases eye contact beyond belief! Greater eye contact increases the sense of connection and intimacy between listener and speaker. We are living in a day when people are increasingly resistant to “pre-planned” speeches. While my preaching is completely pre-planned, it feels more authentic and relational because I am not following notes. For eye contact alone, it is worth it for me.
But there are other benefits. Preaching without notes forces you to make sure the outline makes sense. As Haddon Robinson says, a good outline remembers itself. An outline on paper can be deceptive, giving the impression of logical ordering, but an outline that does not flow or make sense will be very hard to internalize for preaching without notes. Preaching without notes also forces you to tie the message as directly as possible to the text. The text is your notes, so the message needs to logically flow from the text. Furthermore, you are more likely to stay put in the text you are dealing with rather than skipping all over the canon (a good habit to get into for many reasons!)
So that’s the “why?” In the next post I will explain the “how” of no notes preaching . . . and it is not about memorization!