You may have heard the saying that “It’s not what you say, it’s how you say it!” With that in mind, these ten sermon delivery tips will help you communicate more effectively.
Because the truth is, people are absorbing more than just your words.
As you better understand how your non-verbal communication and your delivery style affect the way your message is received, you’ll be able to preach with greater confidence. Let’s dive in!
Estimated reading time: 11 minutes
Table of contents
- 10 Sermon Delivery Tips for Communicators
- 1. Master the Elements of Nonverbal Communication
- 2. Adjust Your Pacing, Inflection, and Tone
- 3. Connect with Your In-Room Audience
- 4. Surprise Them With Something Extra
- 5. Deliver Your Message to an Online Audience
- 6. Know Your Material
- 7. Maintain Focus
- 8. Show Some Passion
- 9. Receive Feedback
- 10. Be Humble
10 Sermon Delivery Tips for Communicators
There are a lot of aspects that go into any sort of communication, not just delivering sermons! While sermon preparation and the words you are saying are very important, the way you are saying it also matters. Our goals as pastors and speakers are to ignite people with the power of God’s word, but if we can’t communicate effectively, it doesn’t matter.
In this article, we delve into essential tips to elevate your sermon delivery, transforming the spoken word into a compelling and transformative experience. From the nuances of body language to the your connection with the audience, each tip will push you closer to a deeper connection with your church.
Whether you’re a seasoned preacher seeking to refine your craft or a novice stepping into the pulpit, these insights aim to empower you to convey your messages with authenticity, impact, and resonance.
1. Master the Elements of Nonverbal Communication
You may have heard this before, but 93% of your communication is nonverbal. Your audience is reading your every move, so it’s vital that you’re aware of the messages you’re sending.
Specifically, 55% is body language and 38% is paralanguage (volume, tone, etc.)
Let’s tackle body language first. Here are major components of nonverbal communication to consider when you get up to preach:
- Posture – How you stand or sit can communicate confidence or insecurity. Make sure your posture is open and relaxed. Authentic preachers stand in a way that is authoritative but not intimidating.
- Gestures – Keep them natural and relatively small.
- Eye contact – Maintaining eye contact signals engagement with your audience and confident in what you’re saying. Scan the audience while you talk, don’t just preach to the same person the whole time.
- Facial expressions – A genuine smile goes a long way in connecting with your audience.
- Dress – Your clothing should be appropriate for the occasion, fit your context, and show respect for your audience.
2. Adjust Your Pacing, Inflection, and Tone
The term paralanguage refers to the nonverbal elements of communication that are expressed through your voice. This includes your pacing, intonation, and volume.
- Pacing is how fast or slow you speak. If you speak too quickly, it can sound like you’re nervous or unsure of what you’re saying. On the other hand, speaking too slowly can make you sound bored or disinterested. The key is to find a balance and speak at a natural pace.
- Inflection is the rise and fall of your voice, which can emphasize certain words or convey emotion. For example, you would use a different inflection if you were asking a question than if you were making a statement.
- Tone is the overall quality of your voice, which can communicate confidence, happiness, anger, etc. Make sure your tone of voice matches what you’re saying.
- Volume is how loudly or softly you speak. While some are accustomed to fiery preaching and consider it a display of passion, others interpret this as “being yelled at” and are put off by loud volume. On the other hand, speaking too softly makes it difficult to understand and conveys timidity.
3. Connect with Your In-Room Audience
Are you trying to deliver the world’s greatest speech, or are you trying to pastor and teach people? The point of these sermon delivery tips isn’t to help you develop a perfectly polished sermon, but to serve your audience!
For example, using “you” language immediately draws listeners in and helps them feel like you’re speaking directly to them.
And we’ll say it again: eye contact is the primary key to connection. Be sure you’re looking around the room, and if you can preach without notes this is even easier to do.
Also, remember to be genuine, relatable, and humble. Sharing personal stories, especially about failures or shortcomings, makes you more relatable and helps people feel like they can connect with you.
4. Surprise Them With Something Extra
If you’ve been in the Christian preaching world for a couple of decades, you’ve probably seen both wins and fails when it comes to using props and special elements for sermon illustrations.
Or maybe you clearly remember when Andy Stanley started preaching beside a touchscreen TV. Suddenly, everybody was doing it!
You shouldn’t chase trends or go overboard with elements that end up feeling forced and gimmicky. However, if you add a prop, video, physical illustration, or pull someone else on stage, it will definitely catch people’s attention and make the message more memorable.
To make it easy and unobtrusive, you can add a simple visual, utilizing your screens to display a photo, quote, or graph with facts and numbers.
Out of all the sermon delivery tips, we encourage you to use this one with caution. Be careful not to:
- Spend more time on special elements than you do crafting a high-quality message.
- Force it or go over the top.
- Overuse special elements; if every sermon begins with one, it’ll lose its impact.
5. Deliver Your Message to an Online Audience
In today’s world, it’s more important than ever to consider your online audience when delivering a sermon.
You may be preaching to a room of people, but you also need to think about those who are tuning in via social media or your church’s live stream or those who will watch the message recording at a later date.
When considering your online audience, think about how the non-verbal habits we listed above can be translated.
For example, looking directly into the camera is the equivalent of eye contact. You don’t want to read your sermon word-for-word off a teleprompter but imagine the person behind the camera lens.
Also, consider how your movement, posture, and gestures fit into the frame and will translate to an online viewer.
6. Know Your Material
Knowing your material is the cornerstone of effective sermon delivery, forming the bedrock upon which impactful communication is built. Thorough familiarity with the scriptures, anecdotes, and key points ensures a confident and authoritative presentation. Your command over the material not only enhances your credibility but also allows for a more dynamic and engaging delivery.
While a well-structured outline provides guidance, an intimate knowledge of the content allows for spontaneity and adaptability. This enables you to respond authentically to the needs of the moment. This depth of understanding enables the seamless incorporation of personal insights and connections.
Far too many pastors fall into one of the two extremes. They can be so well-rehearsed and married to their outline that they can’t allow for spontaneous thoughts or moves of the Spirit. On the other hand, they can be too improvised and hack a lack of knowledge of what their preaching. This leads to a confusing, muddled message that audiences will have difficulty drawing anything from.
Ultimately, a thorough grasp of the material empowers you to navigate your message in between both extremes. It can help you to deliver a message that resonates with clarity and spiritual depth.
7. Maintain Focus
Staying on point is like the GPS for effective sermon delivery—it keeps you on the right track. Just as road trips benefit from a clear destination, sermons thrive when there’s a central focus. It’s tempting to explore every interesting detour, but maintaining focus ensures your audience arrives at the heart of your message.
Picture it as a journey where each word is a signpost guiding listeners toward a transformative destination. Distractions might pop up like roadside attractions, but a disciplined focus keeps the main message front and center. Whether you’re tackling deep theological waters or sharing practical wisdom, maintaining focus is the key to keeping everyone on the same road to spiritual insight.
Too many sermons are too loose, as mentioned in the previous point, and so the message can be unclear. But a speaker that maintains focus on the point of their message will deliver a memorable sermon.
8. Show Some Passion
When you step into the pulpit, let your passion lead the way—it’s the turbo boost for a sermon that truly resonates. Passion is the magnetic force that draws your audience into the heart of your message. Speak with enthusiasm, make your message personal, and allow the Lord to move in every tender moment.
Imagine your sermon as a bonfire. Passion is the fuel that ignites a blaze, captivating attention and warming hearts. Your excitement becomes contagious, and can inspire those listening to connect with the profound truths you’re sharing.
So, don’t hold back. Let your passion be the driving force that turns a mere speech into a powerful proclamation. After all, when you speak from the heart, your message becomes a beacon that guides and uplifts.
9. Receive Feedback
Receiving feedback is the compass guiding the continual evolution of your sermon delivery. Embracing feedback from others provides valuable insights into the effectiveness of your communication. You should approach it as a collaborative effort between you and your people, a shared pursuit of growth and connection.
Seek feedback and reviews from the people who listen to your message. We suggest asking the most qualified people, such as other pastors or elders on staff. While we won’t directly suggest against it, asking a regular church member for direct feedback after a sermon could come across wrongly.
Make sure to appreciate the diverse perspectives offered, recognizing that each comment is a unique viewpoint on your message. Stay open-minded, understanding that constructive criticism is not an indictment but an opportunity for refinement. Actively seek feedback, creating a dialogue that fosters mutual understanding and trust.
Every suggestion, whether affirming or challenging, is a stepping stone toward enhancing your ability to convey the profound truths of your message. In the dynamic journey of sermon preparation and delivery, the willingness to receive feedback is the wind in your sails. It propels you towards a more impactful connection with your congregation.
10. Be Humble
It is obviously important for anyone in leadership to be humble, but we want to focus on what this specifically means for you and your sermon delivery. We all range widely in our abilities to communicate. Some pastors are naturally better public speakers than others, that’s totally fine.
It’s important to remember that you are just a human who can still grow in this area. If you struggle with getting your presentation down, it’s okay. Keep working at these skills, and eventually they will become second nature.
We suggest taking one of these tips and focusing on just that one for each sermon you preach. Sometimes it can get overwhelming trying to improve all areas of our communication at once. By focusing at one at a time, we can actually make measurable improvement.
Sermon Delivery Tips
And there you have our 10 tips! Like the chorus of a compelling story, these elements harmonize, creating a connection that resonates beyond words. We encourage you to embrace the dance between humility and confidence.
Using these tips, your sermons can become more than mere speeches—they become impactful messages. We pray God’s blessings over your sermons!
Do you have other tips to share? Comment below and let us know.
In the meantime, we hope you’ll put these ten sermon delivery tips into practice so that you can make the right connection and preach with confidence.