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Speaker's Corner

Move it!

Move it!

I donít know if you watch religion much on television these days, but if you do, you may notice how many of the television evangelists are of the charismatic persuasion. The reason is the medium. Television is a visual medium, and the successful preachers move. The effect is probably stronger in person than on television, because the camera moves for you and you donít have to move your head at all to follow the speaker as he moves. But whatever the case, movement is a major factor in holding attention. Monroe suggests that even random movement is better than no movement. It helps you drain off tension and it still tends to hold the eyes of the audience.

Most preachers in most churches are stuck behind a podium and the only things they move are their hands and arms. The guys who have no podium and move around have a distinct advantage. It is more than just a matter of catching the eye. Movement can signal changes in the content of the message. A move forward can suggest intensity. A move backward can say, letís step back and think about his for a moment. A move to the side can signal a change of subject. "On the other hand," accompanied by a few steps to the left, really underlines the fact that we are moving from one idea to another, or from one point in the outline to another.

Keep in mind that the eyes of the audience are important. If they are looking at you, they are more likely to be hearing you and paying attention. If they are not, you need to do something to regain their eyes.

But moving your body is only half of the equation. Your content needs to move as well. This is more difficult to illustrate than physical movement but may be more important. It is for me, because I do a radio program and moving my body doesnít help much. When you are preparing an outline for a speech, you need a clear idea of where you are going and how you are going to get there. If you are a person people like to listen to, you may get away with a flow of random, loosely related ideas. But even so, you are better off if you have a goal and you move inexorably toward it. In some sermons, the only time an audience is aware of movement is when another scripture is announced. But this is usually an illusion. There is no reason why this scripture must necessarily follow the last one.

Monroe said that you should always think of a speech in terms of the response you want from the audience. Sometimes referred to as the "specific purpose statement," this is one sentence, somewhere in the first minute of your message that tells the audience (and the speaker) what we are going through this exercise for.

And as you structure your outline, look for movement. There should be a reason why one point follows another. And each point should move your audience a little further toward the goal. The audience should have a feeling that, if I drift away here, I am going to miss something. Donít tread water. Swim in a direction. Donít plow the same ground over and over again. You probably can think of some more cliches to say what these say. The point? Move it. Move your body if can. Move your ideas no matter what.


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