Hearing Is Not Like Reading

The difference between writing for the eye and writing for the ear is often overlooked by preachers.  We tend to be book people – we may have studied formally for more years than many others, then our work requires us to keep on reading diligently.  Perhaps we even write books and articles for others to read.  All this means we too easily write for the eye by default, even when we write our sermons.  But our sermons are not for the eye.  They are designed to be heard.  People can’t go back and re-read what we just said, nor pause for thought when a particular sentence strikes a chord.  Consequently, we need to be careful to prepare sermons that work for the ear.  Various techniques will help our listeners.  Here’s an important one:

Restatement – It is not repetition (saying the same thing again, like a parrot), it is restatement (immediately saying the same thing with different words).  Repetition can sound like you think the people listening are stupid (although sometimes it is appropriate to simply repeat what you just said).  Restatement gives the listener time to take in what you are saying.  It’s useful to use with the big idea, with references to the structure of the message, with major points, etc.  When people are reading a book, they can go back and look at an important sentence to make sure they understood it.  When they are listening they can’t go back, so you need to do this for them through restatement.  Practice saying something and then saying it again in other words.  Train yourself to state your point, but then to restate it in different terms.   

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