The Preacher’s Body Language Speaks Loudly

The Preacher’s Body Language Speaks Loudly

We have been exploring the subject of body language for the preacher in the last couple of posts.  We’ve looked at many things to avoid in the use of your body while you preach.  Now we turn to some positive ways of using your body to communicate while preaching.  Remember, the preacher’s body language speaks loudly during a message

Be Natural

The whole point of the 7-38-55 rule is that your body speaks.  A positive use of body language compliments what you are saying.  The best use of your body is to be as natural as possible.  When you are in a conversation with a good friend, you naturally move your hands, your head, and maybe even your feet.  You lean forward or back in concert with your verbal communication.  So the best use of body language is gestures and postures that you don’t think about a great deal–they are natural expressions that accompany the words you use.

But Speaking On Stage Is Different

Having written the above paragraph, I do want to point out that things are different when you are on stage.  The setting of being in front of people speaking creates a challenge for most of us.  Natural gestures become less than natural and we can tend to freeze up and stand stiffly.   So most of us can’t just do what comes naturally.  So what do we do?

Remember that the preacher’s body language speaks loudly as you bring God’s Word to people.  I like the way Ken Davis put it in his book, Secrets of Dynamic Communications: Prepare with Focus, Deliver with Clarity, Speak with Power.

“There is no such thing as a neutral gesture. Everything you do with your hands communicates something. Make sure your hands are not giving a speech in competition with the one you are delivering.”

Positive Ways that Body Language Can Speak Loudly

Let’s begin with the hands.  Here are some general guidelines for using your hands in a positive way:

Actions: When you are talking about doing something like throwing, make it a gesture.  “He threw the ball way beyond me,” for example.  You can also use your hands to communicate actions around you, like, “The eagle was soaring on the wind.”  Your hands can help people visualize that pretty clearly.

Shapes and sizes: When you talk about the whole world, move your hands in a circle.  You can create a rectangle with your hands when you are saying something like “a door that was large and scarred”.  I have a friend who, whenever he mentions the cross, creates the shape with his hands.  It is another way that body language can speak loudly for the preacher of the Good News.


Direction: “He went thataway.”  That is a great opportunity for pointing in a direction.  Or, “He ascended into heaven.”  Make sure you point up for that one.

Emotions: Most experts in body language  indicate that you can use your hands to bring people into emotions you are talking about.  If someone is angry, you can shake your fist.  Or when you would talk about someone who is broken and defeated, you can hug yourself.

Open Hands can communicate openness and invitation.  There are several versions of this.  Consider these two pictures:

So these are some examples about how the preacher’s body language speaks loudly in a message.  In the next post, we’ll consider how movement and facial expressions can add to or detract from your words.  So stay tuned.  In the meantime, here is a good training video on using hand gestures in a positive way in preaching.