4 Tips To Better Prepare Your Messages

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If you don’t communicate clearly and effectively you will struggle in youth ministry.  Whether it’s giving a message in front of teenagers or leading a workshop for parents how well you communicate will affect the way you lead.  For some of you getting up in front of a group of people is a piece of cake.  For others of you public speaking is like pulling the skin right off of your body.  No matter your comfort level, preparation is paramount to the effectiveness of communication.  If it sounds and looks like you are winging it the value of your content will diminish quickly.  People will be so distracted by the flaws in your presentation that they will miss what it is you are trying to say.
But, it’s not always about how much time you spend preparing.  If you want to take your speaking to the next level it’s about building a routine that will tear your message a part and put it together into an engaging presentation.
For my routine I always:

  1. Run Through The Rough Draft – This is the hardest step because it requires me to back away from the computer and start giving life to my work.  After writing a full rough draft (intro to conclusion) and having someone review it, I read it out loud.  One of the largest obstacles you might face is waiting for perfection; however, it will never come.  After you bust out a full draft start reading it over and over again.  Any holes or pieces you struggled to write out will form when you hear your own words.
  2. Work It A Paragraph At A Time – It’s good to run through the full piece a few times; however, after a while it’s important to break down each component.  This way you can work on inflection and pace.  You will want to give your conclusion as much attention as you would your intro.  
  3. Work In Distractions –  Who knows when that teen might burp out loud.  Can you really trust that everyone’s cell phone is silenced?  To practice with distractions turn on some music or rehearse in your office while people are walking by.  Granted those might not be the distractions you face during go time; however, it’ll help you prepare for when something unexpected does happen (Like when a teen decides to let one loose in the middle of a profound point.)
  4. Practice In Front Of Others – When you practice in front of others you give yourself the opportunity to catch mistakes and pick up on bad habits.  Whether it’s a friend, spouse or coworker, find one or two people to give you feedback.  It’s important that these are people you trust and are not afraid to be honest with you.  If it’s too difficult to gather a crowd, record yourself and send it out.  

The better you communicate, the more engaged your audience.  As youth ministers its not about running programs, but fueling a cause.  As the leader you need to send them off and get them on fire for Christ.  If you cannot give people clear instruction and inspiration then you’ll find people walking away looking for someone who will.

How do you prepare for a message, talk or workshop?