Make Your Message Interesting

preaching to a bored audience

Make Your Message Interesting

You have to make your message interesting if you want it to be memorable. I’ve mentioned this many times before in this blog, as you can see from this post on illustrations, or this one on keeping your message clear.

I want to emphasize again here, in this section on developing a sermon, that you must make your message interesting or people will tune out.

What do people remember?

In a study that is attributed to the University of Texas, researchers tried to quantify what people remember. Here are the conclusions:

People remember 10% of what we read

20% of what we hear

30% of what we see

50% of what we see and hear

70% of what we discuss with others

80% of what we personally experience

90% of what we teach others

tuning out a speech
Tuning You Out

It’s not difficult to draw some further conclusions about a monologue presentation. If you are going to make a sermon interesting, you are going to have to include more than just words. Otherwise, people will tune you out, and they won’t remember much of anything that you said.

Presentation Trumps Information

It is difficult for us to believe this, that presentation trumps information. You can have the best information in the world, but if it is not presented in an interesting, challenging, engaging way, it will amount to nothing. That is often the reality with preaching today. By Wednesday, people remember only about 10% of what you said on Sunday.

How to make it interesting

So how do you make it interesting? Here are some tools to do that.

Tell stories. I mentioned this in an earlier blog, where I talked about speaking in pictures. Human beings have been passing on learning through stories for generations and generations. Why? Because people remember the stories. If you are not a story-teller, develop one for your next sermon, and watch the people. They will all of a sudden sit up and take notice.

Use Visuals. I use powerpoint to put pictures of the people I’m telling about, as well as to list things I want people to remember. This adds a “seeing” to the “hearing”, and therefore increases the likelihood that people will remember. The reality is that we are all visual learners. If you don’t have access to things like powerpoint, create other visuals with pictures or objects that will be interesting to people.

Use emotion. This doesn’t mean that you have to cry every week when you preach. Rather, I’m encouraging you not to just focus on facts, but to get in touch with how your message can impact the emotions of the people who are listening. Emotion is a powerful way for people to connect with your message.

Repeat. It’s an old adage, but a good one: repetition is the mother of learning. Repeating a point or a phrase is a way to keep the message interesting.

Give Examples. The more you illustrate, as mentioned earlier, the better your hearers will remember what you want them to remember.

Create discussion. I try to include questions for small groups or for families to discuss after the message. As mentioned above, this is a great way to increase retention of your message.

Give assignments. When people “do” the message, it will, by nature, become more interesting and therefore memorable. If you give them words to say to someone, or a “good deed” to perform during the week, it will make your message interesting, and therefore memorable.

Here is an instructional video on this subject that expands on what I am saying here.

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