Improving Speech While Not Preparing

Jay Adams suggests that improvements in speech should be pursued during everyday life, but not when preparing the message.  The reason he gives is that focusing on grammar, phraseology or pronunciation during preparation and delivery is a distraction from the real task at hand.  It is better, he suggests, to work on improving your speech during every day life.  Over the course of several weeks it is possible to master a new speech habit.

For example, you might need to work on saying “He asks you and me,” rather than “He asks you and I.”  By concentrating on this and working on it in everyday situations it will not take too long for it to become a speech habit that will naturally come out while preaching.

Another example is that of storytelling.  Every day we can practice telling stories compellingly, with good flow, description and appropriate pausing.  We shouldn’t wait for a dramatic life event, but rather choose an experience each day to recount to our families over dinner.  Practising the telling of a story in the car can help, and the repeated telling of stories with increasing effectiveness will only help our ability to tell stories during preaching – personal “illustrations” or biblical stories.

Tomorrow I’ll mention another aspect of speech that can be worked on in everyday life.

3 thoughts on “Improving Speech While Not Preparing

  1. This is a helpful tip. Too often I find myself (during preparation or even the delivery of the sermon) thinking too much about the particular wording of a statement rather than focusing on the heart of what I want to communicate. While wording and meaning are definitely connected, the more attention you can direct toward delivering the heart of the message, the better.

    Thank you Peter for this blog. It has been a tremendous blessing. The posts are helpful to a young preacher like myself. I especially enjoy reading your insights/suggestions on delivery and the “how to’s” of preaching. You put forth a wonderful balance of material for the preacher. I praise God for you brother!

  2. I like this idea a lot. I think that the preaching should sound like a conversation, anyway. If we speak the way we want to preach, we should preach the way we want to speak.

    I think for most of us this involves bringing our speaking up in quality (and content), but it also probably involves bringing the tone of our preaching down a bit. I’ve heard preachers (and been a preacher) who get up in the pulpit and transform into a different person speaking a different language. It may not be as bad as “thees” and “thous” but it can be pretty close. For sermons to really connect with people, they need to be in the language that people use.

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