Sometimes preachers will do something that grates on the listeners. It is risky to write this post. What if someone in your congregation reads it and stops listening to you? Actually, the truth is that if they’ve noticed your habit, they have probably stopped listening fully already.
Here’s the vital truth to grasp before we get into specifics. The problems I’m going to touch on today are problems when they become repetitious. As a communicator you can get away with a lot of things once, but almost anything becomes a problem when it starts repeating. And the good news is that you don’t have to avoid ever doing these things – we all do some of them, maybe all of them now and then. Just work to reduce or remove the one that you are repeating.
1. Weight Shifting and Continual Motion
Some preachers get into a rhythmic weight shifting between feet, rocking back and forth in a hypnotic pattern that may send listeners to sleep . . . or it may drive them mad and make them want to scream, “stop moving!” Either way, they’re not listening properly. Maybe you don’t just shift back and forth between feet, but you move, you prowl, you prance, you never stand still. You’re like a caged and agitated lion threatening to escape, and your listeners, once they notice this, will become like people who long to escape (or mentally already have). Watch out for repetitious weight shifting and foot motion. Standing like a statue isn’t a good idea, but nor is moving like a perpetual motion toy.
2. Tennis Match Eye Motion
Some preachers get into a rhythmic tennis gaze that shifts back and forth between two focal points. Maybe like a very famous US politician, you’ll pull off the four-second double teleprompter motion so that many find it natural. Or probably you’ll have listeners wondering what is so fascinating about the clock in that corner and the top of the door over to their left. There is a third point of reference that moves this out of the tennis analogy, and that is the return to the notes, but the problem remains. The best way to avoid giving the impression that you are swapping between two focal points over the heads of the listeners is to stop swapping between two focal points over the heads of the listeners. Don’t pretend to make eye contact. Make eye contact. And if you have more than two listeners, they may never get the tennis sensation again!