7 things we do that make us less effective as communicators.


Last week I was in my home town in Indiana speaking at a church conference. While I was there I set up an appointment with my old high school friend Todd Gongwer. Todd is the author of Lead for Gods Sake, and travels around the country speaking at colleges and coaching conferences. 

While we were in his office, we started picking each others brains about what we do, where we've failed, and where we are going in the future. I had a blast catching up. While we were throwing questions back and forth, the topic of speaking came up and out of that conversation I started thinking about mistakes that I've made and know that a lot of speakers make on a regular basis with their talks. So I thought I would share and unpack a few of them today in hopes that we all can become masters of our craft. 

1. Consistent passionate and loud voice flexions. 

Passion is a great thing. Moving your voice to a new level of intensity is good. However, being passionate and loud all the way from the introduction to the closing point, gets old to the listener very quickly. 

Here's a tip - let the content dictate when you go up and down in your voice flexions. Let you message breath a little. Think through when you are going to speak in normal voice, when you are going to crank it up a bit

2. Too much body movement on stage. 

Moving around the stage is a “must do” in speaking and using your hands is a very engaging thing, however, it is possible to move around so much that you take away from the message or point you are trying to make. 

Stay in control. Use your body to sell the point, to engage the listener, or get more involved as a speaker. But don't let what you do, be a distraction to what you are trying to say. 

3. When feel like you're losing the crowd you drop a cheap joke or give a golden nugget of truth. 

As communicators we have all been here many times. You feel like your point is not sinking in. You don’t feel like the crowd is with you, so you throw out a quick silly joke to get the crowd to laugh and participate. Or you throw out a golden nugget that is very true and very good, however, it has absolutely nothing to do with the message you are speaking. You just threw it out there because you felt like you are losing the crowd. 

Here’s the thing, you may be losing the crowd … but you may not be. Sometimes people are just listening (thats a good thing). As a communicator we have to lean in on our preparation and trust that we have the content that people need to hear. There is nothing wrong with making onstage modifications like being funny or dropping awe inspiring truths but always trust your content … don't do things to cheapen, or shortchange it. 

4. Telling the same story the same way you told it before. 

Sometimes, especially, if you travel and speak you will tell a story that you have told many times before. That is more than fine, because most likely the people you are speaking to have never heard the story.

The problem is, that as the speaker you have heard the story far to many times. You know the story up and down, backwards and forwards. You know the sad parts and you know the parts where everyone is going to laugh. 

All of that is fine, however, the problem comes when we get into “robot mode” in telling the story.  Robot mode sucks for the listener! Every time you tell the story you have to be “in the moment” and let the story shrink and expand to the environment you are currently in. 

Trust me, as a guy who speaks for a living every weekend as well as speaks at and attends many conferences every year … people know when you have told the story before.  Here are some tell tell signs that you are telling a story that you’ve told many times before. 

You are talking very fast. 

You know the content so well, you are flying through it.

You pause for laughter at just the perfect time. 

That is really awkward when the crowd does not laugh on cue. 

You drum up an emotional response

Pull up the tears and voice flexion changes, when you really aren’t feeling anything in the moment, but you do it because thats what the story demands

I speak three times every Sunday, so every week I am telling the same story at least three times. I also travel and speak each month and sometimes have stories that I use repeatedly in certain . Two things that I do to keep a story fresh in my heart is: I tell the story in a different order, or I leave a part of the story out. This mixes things up in my head and keeps it fresh in the moment. 

5. Spend so much time on your personal story it takes  away from the actual point you are making. 

Our personal story is not the point of the message we are giving. It is a tool that we use to set up the point or apply the point. But it is not the point. As communicators we need to spend more time on the point and less time on our story. 

6. Skim across six points but never unpack one. 

Every time we speak, we are speaking for change. We want the listener to change something. It is easier for them leave inspired to live differently, when they hear the details of one thing, rather than an overview of five or six things. 

7. Give why and the what, but never give the how. 

If you are speaking about making disciples, you need to explain WHY we should disciple, WHAT is a disciple, and then HOW we actually make a disciple. The why inspires. The what gives clarity. But it is the how, that they actually use. Never forget the how.

Here are a few questions:

Which of these seven do you typically struggle with?

Why is it that you struggle with it?

What changes can you make in preparation to remedy these? 

I would love to hear from you - comment below - or email me at growmoore@gmail.com