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Family Week speaker has cure for boring, rambling presentations

EDITOR’S NOTE: The following story is part two of a two part series.

RIDGECREST, N.C. (BP)–Too many speakers are boring, drowning people in words before they get to the point.

Even worse is the rambler who takes twice as long as needed to get to the point.

But the worst offender is the speaker who has no point at all.

“The solution to a boring and rambling presentation is putting heart into it,” Bert Decker told participants in a two-day conference, “Communicating with Bold Assurance,” during Discipleship and Family Week at Ridgecrest (N.C.), a LifeWay Conference Center.

“God talks about the heart almost more than anything. I think he wants us to concentrate on the hearts of ourselves and those we are talking with,” said Decker, CEO of Decker Communications, Inc., a consulting company with offices in major cities across the United States. He also is chairman of Bold Assurance Ministries, a non-profit corporation, and author of Communicating with Bold Assurance, an eight-session study for use in churches and other groups. LifeWay Christian Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention distributes the course.

To get heart into speeches, sermons and presentations, Decker outlined what he termed SHARP principles (or stories, humor, analogies, references and pictures).

“Jesus Christ is many things to many people. But to all, he is history’s greatest storyteller,” Decker wrote in his workbook.

The second of the SHARP principles, he said, is humor, including taking advantage of unplanned humor. Analogies such as metaphors and simple objects also add heart and emotion as well as references and quotes.

Finally, he urged, use pictures and visuals.

To guide the outline of a presentation, Decker outlined the Decker Grid System, using small sticky notes big enough for only two or three words, which he said can cut preparation time in half.

First, the presenter identifies the subject which may be broad and general. Then, to develop a listener-based message, a point of view is listed, along with specific information about the audience. General and specific action steps are identified and benefits to the listener specified.

With what Decker called “cornerstones” in place, the speaker spends a limited time in brainstorming ideas, again using sticky notes. They are then grouped under three points and unrelated ideas are discarded. The organized sticky notes on a single page become the outline for the presentation. He warned against writing speeches or sermons.

With the outline, the speaker is then ready to add heart, substituting stories, analogies and references for selected points on the sticky notes.

“With the outline, you’ll think of stories on the spot and decide whether to use them. That’s the way the best speakers do it,” Decker said.

With a basic plan for constructing a presentation and basic communication skills, the presenter is then ready to obtain feedback, identify poor habits and change them, he said.

While feedback from people and audio feedback are valuable, the most important is video feedback, he said. “Observe behavior changes.”

“The effectiveness of your communication determines the effectiveness of your life,” Decker said. “The habits you want to have a choice about are your communication habits. Pros are always in school. Are you a professional?”

Communicating with Bold Assurance includes a workbook, leader’s guide and resource kit.

LifeWay’s discipleship and family group sponsored Discipleship and Family Week, July 1-7.

    About the Author

  • Linda Lawson