Our culture has shifted and is shifting. Certainly in the west there is now a deep mistrust of inauthentic communication. For example the slick sales pitch of a car salesperson twenty or thirty years ago has largely morphed into a seemingly more authentic approach today. In reality much of sales communication is learned pseudo-authenticity. Nevertheless it reflects how things have changed. People don’t appreciate spin, slick patter or unnatural performance. This is also true in the church. People do not respond well to, or respect, the pulpiteering style of previous generations. Pulpit-pounding ear bashing does not stir as some suggest it did in the past. So what are we to do?
Work on delivery so that the real you can come through. Working on eye contact, body language, gesturing, inflection of voice and so on should be done not in order to perform, but to effectively be yourself. Obviously we all have aspects of communciation style that could be improved, so we should do that. However, our goal is not to learn a pulpit style or persona. Our goal is to allow the real person to communicate really effectively.
Be in your message. People want not only authentic style of delivery, but also authenticity in content. That means we cannot hide ourselves. We should wisely place ourselves with appropriate vulnerability into our messages. As Haddon Robinson says, “don’t be the hero or the jerk” – it is not nice to listen to someone showing off, nor do we want to listen to someone without credibility. So look for ways to show yourself, but carefully so you don’t overwhelm or undermine the message.