By Spencer Gear PhD
Some of the worst regular public speakers I have heard are Christian preachers. It is sad for me to admit this as I also am a Christian preacher – not as regular now that I’m retired. These preachers don’t speak loud enough for me to hear them in the congregation. This does not apply to all of them.
What are the problems?
Please understand that this is a personal perspective and I wish this article was not necessary. I write it to help preachers improve their communication skills. Unless these are improved, people will turn away from attending the church. My observation is that poor communication does not bother the club mentality.
These are some of the problems I observe and it’s happening in the church I presently attend.
1. Learn to properly project the voice
The Merriam-Webster Dictionary provides this definition of to project one’s voice: “to speak loudly and clearly. You need to project your voice better if you want to be an actor.” I add: “If you want to be a better preacher, learn to speak loudly and clearly.”
The last Sunday I was in church, the female leader was so poor at projection that I walked out of the service in the last hymn before the preacher. I could not hear or understand the leader. She could have been helped if the person at the sound desk wound up the volume for the leader. There is no excuse in the day of microphones for a leader not to be heard. However, a weak and feeble voice is an impediment for listeners to that speaker. Two men led the Lord’s Supper without microphones and I found them impossible to hear – even with my hearing aides in.
These links should provide anyone with tips on how to project your voice. However, I recommend you join a public speaking club for critiques of your presentations.
3. People with Quiet Voices Should Not Be Leaders in a Church or Any Other Service.
For the above “Cool Communicators” reasons, quiet voices are made for sharing in a small group but not for leading a church service or sharing around the Lord’s Supper. Even in a small group, some projection of the voice is necessary.
4. Join a Public Speaking Club.
Paying jobs for me, after a short stint as a cost clerk, were as radio DJs at two radio stations and then as a TV newsreader. When I was hired at 4BU, Bundaberg, Qld., Australia, the manager recommended that I join a public speaking club, Rostrum (for males) to help my ad-lib ability and projection of my voice. Forum was the club for women, but now includes men.
Since my time in Rostrum, they seem to have gone out of favour and have been replaced by Toastmasters Clubs which allow both women and men to participate. I’m too old and without transport to be able to check out these clubs. However, the online material suggests joining such a club would enhance one’s speaking and leadership potential.
5. Homiletics Plus Public Speaking Club
Homiletics is “the art of preaching or writing sermons” (Oxford English Dictionary). In theological colleges, I recommend that all students who look forward to a public speaking/preaching ministry in the church should attend a public speaking club while in college and especially while learning homiletics.
Well-constructed sermons are useless unless the preachers speak loudly and clearly in projecting their voices. The sermon can be assisted by a person who knows how to moderate the volume at the sound desk.