10 Ways to Make Your Listeners Uncomfortable

Someone said preaching should comfort the disturbed and disturb the comfortable.  Here are ten ways to make your listeners feel uncomfortable as you preach, but not in the right sense of the term:

1. Give off non-verbal signals of nervousness. Wring your hands, pace uncontrollably, fidget as you preach, breath shallow, avoid eye contact, flit from one ceiling corner to another, etc.  If you convey nerves, they are contagious and soon the whole room will be infected.

2. Appear to be dependent on your notes. If they get the impression that you might lose your place, or somehow get stuck, then they will start watching in the “eyes up” time for when your eyes will go down again.  If you need notes for personal testimony, something isn’t working well.

3. Appear to be uncertain or hesitant. This doesn’t mean you need to rush or preach at 100mph.  But there is a vast difference between a purposeful pause with poise and a hesitant gap that generates anxiety in all present.

4. Apologise for lack of preparation and you are set. This never fails.  If you can give a good apology for your lack of preparation, or for your inability to communicate, or whatever, you’ll have almost guaranteed an uncomfortable experience for your listeners.

5. Expect people to tune in to ineffective description. Describing a narrative scene or an illustration situation is not easy.  A poor description will leave the imagination projection screen blank inside the listeners.  But that is not a disaster, they will usually be tracking conceptually, even if they can’t “see” what you’re saying.  But to make them uncomfortable, verbally express the expectation that they can imagine what you’re describing.  “Can you imagine being there?  What would it have felt like?”  If the description isn’t vivid, then the questions will pressure listeners into an uncomfortable corner.

I’ll finish the list tomorrow.

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One thought on “10 Ways to Make Your Listeners Uncomfortable

  1. Additions to your list:

    – Tell bad jokes and tell them badly
    – Use words incorrectly or ineptly
    – Fail to convey zeal, joy or passion (dull presentation)
    – Take on a condescending air

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