PREACHING & Neuroscience research confirms: change your presentation every 10 minutes or lose your audience.

Commentary by Dr. Whitesel: I have coached hundreds of pastors to increase preaching impact (and sat through thousands of their sermons). One thing I found is that sermons should end about 10 minutes before they actually end.

In my observations from 25+ years of coaching, the average sermon I’ve heard is approximately 30 minutes. And my observation is that 20 minutes would be the optimum time for most pastors. (But let me say that each person has their optimum time and it may be longer.) But my observation has been that their optimum length is about 10 minutes less than the speaker realizes.

But now there is neuroscience research that shows that people tune out a presentation when it goes over 10 minutes.

It seems our brains are wired to have a 10 minute attention span unless something changes.

The following article is a case study of the recent Apple product debut in which in the first 60 minutes was comprised of six speakers of 10 minutes each: Apple Follows This 10-minute-rule to Keep You Glued to Product Presentations

What neuroscience research is telling us is that 10 minutes into a sermon the speaker should introduce a new story, video, demonstration or what in communication theory we call a different “voice.” This can be a different speaker, a different medium (e.g. video, charts, pictures, demonstration, etc.) or in other words someway to reengage the audience almost as if another person walked on stage.

Here is an insightful quote from the above article:

“Neuroscientists say our brains have a built-in stopwatch that ends around 10 minutes. In my conversations with University of Washington Medical School molecular biologist, John Medina, he cites peer-reviewed studies that show people tune out of a presentation in the first ten minutes. ‘The brain seems to be making choices according to some stubborn timing pattern, undoubtedly influenced by both culture and gene,’ he says. ‘This fact suggests a teaching and business imperative: Find a way to arouse and then hold somebody’s attention for a specific period of time.’ Medina and other neuroscientists say that speakers can re-engage an audience every ten minutes if they introduce a change. A change can include a video, a story, a demonstration, etc.”

PREACHING & 5 Key Steps to Rehearsing a Presentation Like the Best TED Speakers

by Carmine Gallo, Inc. Magazine, 7/30/18.

Every year I teach a class of elite business professionals who are enrolled in an executive education program at Harvard University. They are required to participate in group and individual presentations to graduate. After their presentations are complete, I recommended that each student practice their final presentations a minimum of ten times from start to finish. The ones who do stand out.

I learned this technique from studying and interviewing the TED speakers whose talks went viral…

Here are five steps to rehearse effectively.

1. Start with presentation notes.

Start writing notes for each slide in full sentences. Read the transcript out loud as you review each slide. Next, cut down the full sentences into bullet points and rehearse out loud again–relying on notes even less…

2. Practice under ‘mild stress.’

…The famous entrepreneur and author, Tim Ferriss, applied this concept to his TED talk. “Mimic game-day conditions as much as possible,” he said after his presentation. Ferriss gave the presentation in front of friends and strangers at various startups to groups of about 20 people. “I don’t want my first rehearsal in front of a large group of strangers to be when I stand up in front of 3,000 people,” he said…

3. Ask for specific feedback.

Once you’ve practiced your presentation in front of a small audience, most people will say “good job.” They don’t want to hurt your feelings and they’ll have limited feedback. While “good job” might help you feel good, it won’t help you get better. Ask them to be specific: Is there something you didn’t understand? Do I use jargon that you’re not familiar with? Did I make strong eye contact? What did you like–or not like–about my delivery? What can I do to make it stronger?

4. Record it.

Set up a smartphone or a video camera on a tripod and record your presentation. You’ll be surprised at what you see. You’ll

5. Practice until it’s effortless.

Read more at … https://www.inc.com/carmine-gallo/5-key-steps-to-rehearsing-a-presentation-like-best-ted-speakers.html

PREACHING & Baylor Univ. releases list of “12 most effective preachers” & my exercise for preachers.

Baylor University conducted a survey to identify the 12 most effective preachers in the English-speaking world. Now, two decades after the original survey, the Kyle Lake Center for Effective Preaching at Baylor University’s George W. Truett Theological Seminary has identified the 12 most effective preachers of 2018.

The 12 individuals named as the most effective preachers in the English-speaking world, according to George W. Truett Theological Seminary’s national survey are … 

12 Most Effective PreachersRead more at … https://www.baylor.edu/truett/index.php?id=951217

A Leadership Exercise by Dr. Whitesel:

Listen to a sermon from 3 to 5 of these preachers. Then write out the similarities you hear. This exercise can help you identify recurring aspects of preachers known for preaching effectiveness.

PREACHING & The Surprising Power of Asking Questions #OrganicChurchBook #HarvardBusinessReview

Commentary by Dr. Whitesel: When researching my Abingdon Press book, “Inside the organic church,” I found growing young churches often have sermons in which the audience is asked to respond to the preacher with live questions. Traditionalists usually found this worrisome, because they feared losing control of the learning experience. But research cited in this Harvard Business Review article demonstrates that asking questions deepens learning.  Not surprisingly, I practice questioning of my listeners in my courses, seminars and even sermons.

by Alison Wood Brooks and Leslie K. John, Harvard Business Review, May-June 2018.

“Be a good listener,” Dale Carnegie advised in his 1936 classic How to Win Friends and Influence People. “Ask questions the other person will enjoy answering.” More than 80 years later, most people still fail to heed Carnegie’s sage advice. When one of us (Alison) began studying conversations at Harvard Business School several years ago, she quickly arrived at a foundational insight: People don’t ask enough questions. In fact, among the most common complaints people make after having a conversation, such as an interview, a first date, or a work meeting, is “I wish [s/he] had asked me more questions” and “I can’t believe [s/he] didn’t ask me any questions.”

…Dating back to the 1970s, research suggests that people have conversations to accomplish some combination of two major goals: information exchange (learning) and impression management (liking). Recent research shows that asking questions achieves both.

… Not all questions are created equal. Alison’s research, using human coding and machine learning, revealed four types of questions: introductory questions (“How are you?”), mirror questions (“I’m fine. How are you?”), full-switch questions (ones that change the topic entirely), and follow-up questions (ones that solicit more information). Although each type is abundant in natural conversation, follow-up questions seem to have special power. They signal to your conversation partner that you are listening, care, and want to know more. People interacting with a partner who asks lots of follow-up questions tend to feel respected and heard.

An unexpected benefit of follow-up questions is that they don’t require much thought or preparation—indeed, they seem to come naturally to interlocutors. In Alison’s studies, the people who were told to ask more questions used more follow-up questions than any other type without being instructed to do so.

Read more at … https://hbr.org/2018/05/the-surprising-power-of-questions

PREACHING & Why a story well-told should elicit in a listener the response, “Oh, tell it again!” #ChristinePartonBurkett

“Some stories need to be told again and again. So it is with the story of Easter, a story that reminds us that we belong to God and that Jesus is out ahead of us, calling us to God’s future…” by Nathan Kirkpatrick, Faith & Leadership, Duke Divinity School, 3/26/18.

My colleague Christine Parton Burkett reminds preachers that children, after hearing a well-told story, never respond, “What does it mean?” Instead, with glee and abandon, they exclaim, “Oh, tell it again!” She reminds preachers that, as human beings, we never really outgrow our love of a story well-told; there is a part of each of us that wants to cheer, “Oh, tell it again!”

Read more at … https://www.faithandleadership.com/nathan-kirkpatrick-tell-it-again?utm_source=NI_newsletter&utm_medium=content&utm_campaign=NI_feature

 

PREACHING & Show it (just don’t tell it): The famous TED talk where Bill Gates let loose a jar filled w/ mosquitos.

 

WOMEN PREACHERS & A description of Susanna Wesley’s innovations

A crowd gathered outside the kitchen window. They had come to hear the pastor’s wife explain Scripture. Tradition forbade women from preaching as a pastor might, but the crowd knew Susanna Wesley as the theological and homiletical equal to her husband, their pastor. On occasions when Samuel traveled to London on religious business, attendance at the Epworth church dropped. But because Susanna believed so strongly people needed a regular feeding of God’s Word, she threw open her kitchen window as an invitation for others to hear the Word. The pretext was that she was teaching her children, gathered around the kitchen table. But the open window allowed her message to touch the hungry hearts of the townspeople. Never before had such delicious provision come out of this kitchen.

Excerpted from Enthusiast! Finding a Faith that Fills (Bob Whitesel, The Wesleyan Publishing House, 2017), p. 135.