Live with your strength, visit your weakness
Tips on sermon presentation
To become a confident communicator, you would be wise to accept the following statements:
- Not everyone has the same presentation style.
- No single presentation style should be elevated above another.
Your presentation style is directly influenced by your temperament and personality. Therefore, to take advantage of your strengths as a presenter, you must first recognize, accept and celebrate your personality type. In this article, we look at four different temperaments and how they define us as public speakers. (Recognizing, of course, that these descriptions are just generalizations and that we are all complicated, multi-dimensional people.) We’ll also investigate different strengths associated with these different personalities. Then, at the end of this article, you’ll have an opportunity to reflect on your own temperament and presentation style.
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As already noted above, the “distinct personality” of each public speaker is expressed in a corresponding presentation style. Your presentation style is not difficult to identify – it’s the style you find most comfortable. In a sense, this is where you “live” as a speaker.
To improve your platform performance, it’s important to understand that your presentation style has a number of characteristic traits. Many of these are strengths that can be used to build more effective sermon presentations. Every strength, however, also comes with a weakness that can hinder compelling communication. Thus, you may need to shore-up those areas where you are weaker or, at the very least, be aware of how these weaknesses can affect a public presentation. You “visit” these weaker areas as you gradually, “secretly,” improve them.
Let’s take a closer look at some different strengths and weaknesses. If you are an extremely organized pastor – one who researches, outlines and writes a sermon weeks before it’s due – then your sermon is likely to have depth and an interesting structure, and will probably be well rehearsed. Clearly, this is a strength.
If, however, the sermon must be shortened or a relevant community crisis forces instant changes to the sermon, then an overly structured speaker might have difficulty making quick and necessary adjustments to a “fixed” speech. This might be construed as a weakness.
On the other hand, a pastor who is improvisational in his presentation style probably finds that ideas and relevant examples quickly spring to mind, and may have a certain energy to his sermon. However, an improvisational speaker can have trouble covering the entire sermon outline within the time allotted. Strengths and weaknesses!
The first chapter of Ezekiel includes a fascinating account of Ezekiel looking out and seeing an image of four living creatures. He watched as four faces became clear: the face of a lion, the face of an ox, the face of an eagle and the face of a man. In short, this could be understood as a balanced composite of the four temperaments of humankind – a balance characteristic of Christ Himself, if you will. The following are some of the attributes these faces suggest:
Lion: Courage / charging forward / powerful presence and voice / taking on any challenge quickly / not necessarily intuitive / often not subtle
Ox: Sequential / determined and faithful / always completing the tasks set before them / tireless worker / not overly creative or an energy creator / stays within the boundaries / trustworthy
Eagle: Extemporaneous / random thinker / follows extraneous trains of thought / not always the best worker / does not always follow through / visionary / charismatic / makes connections easily / personable
Man: Empathetic and sensitive to social issues / compassionate / not too demanding / philosophic and ethically motivated / well prepared / not usually aggressive / can be logical
Although our goal is to display each face equally, we all have primary and secondary faces. So here’s a quick assignment: Take a blank piece of paper and divide it into four quadrants, then write one of the faces above into each square. Which of the four faces do you identify as your primary “face”? Which of the other three faces do you have elements of? Using all four of the potential strengths and weakness of the faces above, draw a circle (or shape) around those that best capture your “presentation temperament.”
In my view, one of the great wonders of being transformed into the image of Christ is that all four of these attributes slowly become characteristic of our lives. At least, that is the way I see it.
Dr. Randy Ritz is a passionate educator, actor and communication coach. He helps leaders use the power of narrative to transmit vision, values and history to others in an entertaining manner. He is currently head of drama at Concordia University College and can be found at RandyRitz.com.