Use your movement and gestures on the platform as visuals- The Art of the Sermon, Rob Bell. Ex: When telling the parable of the Prodigal Son, introduce the oldest son by standing on one side of the platform. Then introduce the younger son by standing on the other end of the platform. Introduce the father by standing in the middle. This communicates the relational separation between the sons and places the father “in the middle”.
Keep in mind that some members of the congregation are abstract thinkers, while others are more concrete thinkers. Ex. When talking about the importance of Bible study, communicate to abstract thinkers by explaining how Bible study feeds our souls. You could illustrate this by describing how a life without Bible study wilts like a houseplant that doesn’t get watered. For concrete thinkers, give them practical and realistic goals for Bible study. Ex: Give them a daily Bible reading plan. Suggest various times of the day at which they could carve out 10 minutes for Bible study. Bring devotionals or Bible study helps with you, as props, to show to them.
The best public speakers talk fast, slowing down for dramatic effect. The congregation can process information twice as fast as the average speaking speed, so you could talk twice as fast as you do, and the congregation would still be able to process what you’re saying. Talking fast communicates energy, as well- Unleashing the Word, Adam Hamilton.
When preaching, be more energetic then you think you need to be. The audience’s level of energy will not be as high as yours, so to keep the congregation motivated to sit through your sermon, be as high energy as you can authentically be. Be appropriate to cultural expectation, however. Ex: Don’t preach like a Pentecostal in a reserved congregation. Respect the cultural norms of your audience. Missionaries call this contextualization.
Use images, props, PowerPoint, video, dramatic acting, testimonies etc., but use them wisely. Do not allow the technology to take over the sermon. Video clips should be no more than 1-2 minutes in length- Unleashing the Word, Adam Hamilton. As you prepare the sermon, ask, “How can I illustrate this? How can I act this out? What picture would shed light on this point? What props would connect for the congregation?- The Art of the Sermon, Rob Bell
Provide sermon notes that coincide with the PowerPoint presentation, if you use one. Make sure all wording and order matches between the screen and the notes. At the beginning of your sermon, invite the congregation to take out their sermon notes, and remind them that, by this Wednesday, they will have forgotten most of what they do not write down.
Keep in mind the various learning styles (at least 3 of them) present in the congregation and appeal to each of them- visual, auditory, tactile- The Handbook for Multi-Sensory Worship, vol. 2, Kim Miller. For example, use a primary image for the sermon or sermon series, and use video, PowerPoint, or props in your sermon for visual learners (compare the spiritual life as a garden to be cultivated). Auditory is covered by your speaking voice, but you could incorporate music or mnemonic devices, as well. Tactile learners want to touch something, to learn by doing. Ex. Give everyone a slice of an apple as they enter the sanctuary. As it turns brown during the sermon, explain how sin leads to decay in your lives – from a Rob Bell sermon.
Never feign emotion during your sermon. I know at least a couple of pastors who employ a fake weepy voice when trying to evoke an emotional response from the congregation. If your emotion is real, then it is fine in moderation. Just don’t fake emotion.
Look for distracting habits during your sermon delivery like saying “um”, “ya know”, “right?”, clearing your throat, etc. Every unnecessary noise we make during our sermon distracts the congregation every time they hear it. We are often unaware of these habits, so to catch them, record your sermons, or better yet, videotape them, to critique your delivery and remove unnecessary habits.
Again, videotape your sermons in order to critique them.
Ask someone to take notes during your sermon and eliminate unnecessary material and habits. Don’t be defensive when they give you honest feedback or explain all of the reasons why you do these unnecessary things. Just say thank you. Their feedback is golden –Unleashing the Word, Adam Hamilton.
When referencing maps of the Holy Land or some other still photo that requires the congregation to focus on one part of it, instead of using a laser pointer, use a telestrator program that allows you to write on the map live during your sermon- from an Adam Hamilton sermon. There are several expensive ways to do this, but I believe that PowerPoint and a program called Omnidazzle both allow you to write on your PowerPoint presentation in real time, as well. (During his sermons, Bill Hybels often writes on large pads of paper on easels, and the IMAG screens enable the congregation to see a close up of what he is writing.)
There is a difference between being enamored with your message and being enamored with yourself. Insightful people in your congregation will know the difference.