What you communicate is not merely about what you say. It is also about how you say it, both the tone and attitude of your voice, and the body language framing the whole communication event. Body language matters. It matters massively. If you don’t know that, try to contradict your words with your posture/gesture/expression and see what is heard by your experiment partner!
So for a quick five-point check-up. For best results, watch a video of yourself preaching. For next best results, ask a trusted friend or three to evaluate your body language. For benefit, think through the following prayerfully:
1. When you preach are you stilted or frozen? This happens to almost everybody when they are nervous, and some never seem to get over it. Strangely though, some are unaware of how petrified they become at the pulpit. As I tend to put it, being natural generally does not come naturally.
2. When you preach are you free and natural? This is obviously the opposite of the first question, but important to ponder some more. Are you more animated in sharing a personal anecdote or sporting memory with a group of friends than you are when you preach?
3. Is your visual presentation consistent? Some preachers tend to animate themselves in spurts. The first few minutes is all action, then by the end they seem to have contracted core hypothermia.
3b. Is your visual presentation consistent? Same question, different meaning. Do you consistently match content to visual presentation? Gesture to words (three fingers for the third in a list is always going to work better than four), expression to emotion, movement to geography, etc.?
4. Let’s be honest, are you aggravatingly repetitive? It could be a perma-grin, or a repeated gesture, or a rhythmic movement, or whatever. Any aspect of visual presentation will be aggravating once people notice it and can predict it.
5. Ok, one more honest one, are you grating in some way so listeners struggle to listen? Perhaps you come across as aggressive, or effeminate, or arrogant, or intimidating, or bombastic, or distracted, or hesitant, or whatever. Hard to pinpoint these things, but definitely worth finding out, somehow.