Yesterday I wrote about some of the challenges that come from our listeners not being able to see our notes. We preach orally, but tend to prepare in literary forms (manuscript, indented outlines, etc.) I mentioned the issue of transitions – very different animals in spoken than in written communication. I mentioned the need to indicate sense of progress, or purpose of illustration. But wait, isn’t there a shortcut to circumvent this whole issue?
The Potential Powerpoint Shortcut – Wouldn’t it be better to just project your notes so they can follow along on a powerpoint sermon outline? I would urge you not to make a projected outline your strategy to overcome these issues. Your outline is for you. If you use powerpoint, use it well (i.e. for images, minimal words, lots of blank screen, perfectly timed, etc.)
What Happens if You Powerpoint Your Outline? Projecting your outline will give the impression your primary goal is to educate and inform, it will spark frenzied note taking, it will cause people to try to memorize three sub-points rather than being marked by the one main point, it will distract from the deeper impact and applicational emphasis of your message. What’s more, what is gained in visual communication via the screen is typically lost in visual communication and connection via the preacher. It takes real skill to powerpoint in a connecting and engaging manner (a skill rarely found in ecclesial settings).
So I Should Never Use Powerpoint? Use powerpoint by all means, but usually not for your outline. The outline is a skeleton, it is for you and it is for you to think through how to communicate as effectively as possible. One of the first posts I wrote was entitled “What do you want them to remember – the outline?”