Stand and Deliver Resources

Part B: Preparing a talk

B4. Preparation techniques and tips

In the previous section we looked at how to go about developing content for a sermon. In this section, we'll look at some of the practical aspects of what that preparation might actually look like, and give you some tools and tips to help you get started.

Preparing for announcements

If you have to give an announcement about an upcoming event, ask yourself these questions:

  1. What is is?

  2. Why are we doing it?

  3. When and where is it?

  4. How can they find out more?

Even if you only have a couple of minutes to prepare to give an announcement, you can quickly run these questions through your mind. Count them on your fingers if that helps you remember them when you're up the front.

Preparing for a longer message

There isn’t one fixed way to prepare a talk.

We all process thoughts differently, and have different preferences for how we get to know content. Our thinking styles or preferences will impact how we approach our preparation. Your favourite preacher may prepare in a way that wouldn't suit you, and that's okay! Even two preachers who have similar speaking styles may have very different preparation techniques.

In addition, the same person may end up using different preparation techniques for different types of messages - e.g. a sermon on a topic versus a sermon working through a whole chapter of the Bible.

Here are some examples of practical preparation techniques (in no particular order):

Ask yourself questions, such as:
‘What do I want people to remember when I finish speaking?’
‘What do I want people to do after hearing my message?’

One point per page
If you know your main points, write one point at the top of each page. On each page jot down any sub-points, personal stories, illustrations or bible verses that relate to that particular point. Once you’ve got everything down, go through and put it in an order that makes sense.

Two columns
If speaking on a particular bible chapter, copy and paste the chapter into a document with two columns, with the bible text in the left column and leaving the right column blank. As you do your research, make notes in the right column about each part of the passage.

two columns: print and scribble notes in the blank column.

two columns: print and scribble notes in the blank column.

Get on your computer or whip out your notebook and ‘blurt out’ whatever is in your mind about your theme. Try to write solidly for a good couple of minutes, not worrying about structure or good grammar or what is most relevant. Leave it for a while then come back to it and see if there are particular points or phrases that stand out to you.

Find a picture
If you like to think in pictures, go to Google images and look for an image that captures the essence of the Bible verse or the main idea that you want to get across. Use this as inspiration to articulate your ideas.

for visual thinkers, images may be helpful in triggering or articulating ideas

for visual thinkers, images may be helpful in triggering or articulating ideas

Learn from others
Check out what other people are saying about your topic or Bible passage. Read commentaries, books and blogs, watch talks on YouTube, listen to podcasts. The Bible has been around for a long time and people through the ages have studied it thoroughly - there will have been many people before you who have preached on what you're preaching on! Utilise their wisdom! (Note: if you are directly quoting from someone else in your talk, make sure you say so).

Use your idle moments
If you're struggling for solid preparation time, make a point to think about your message when you are going about your day, in some of those idle moments when you might otherwise stare into space or whip out your phone. Ask the Spirit for wisdom for your message when you're at the kitchen sink, in the shower, doing the grocery shopping or changing a nappy. By mulling over it at random times you can help cement the message in your head, and new thoughts or ideas may pop up at unexpected moments!

PM Malcolm, just casually mulling over his next big speech while on the train.

PM Malcolm, just casually mulling over his next big speech while on the train.

>> More on preparation tools and techniques

If you haven't already, watch Loud and Clear Session 1 - Preparation (33 minutes):

Copyright notice

This content is provided free, however all content is copyright Redhill Church unless stated otherwise (we refer to the work of other individuals and organisations throughout - see list in Part D). So feel free use these resources personally and in your own church, however if reproducing this content please ensure all copyright holders are credited accordingly.