Use of Body
We often hear that 80% of our communication takes place on the non-verbal level. While the words “I forgive
you” are unequivocal they are subjected to extreme test of sincerity through our facial expression, posture and tone of voice (as opposed to the content of the words) so is, to a high degree, everything else we say. Broadus again puts it well: “To say, ‘Leave the room,’ is less expressive than to point to the door. Placing a finger on the lips is more forcible than whispering, ‘Do not speak.’ A beck of the hand is better than ‘Come here.’ No phrase can convey the idea of surprise so vividly as opening the eyes and raising the eyebrows. A shrug of the shoulders would lose much by translation into words.” “He who is master of this sign-language has, indeed, an almost magic power.” When a speaker is able to match his body language with the content of his sermon it adds a marvelous dimension to his message as it is not only his mouth that is speaking anymore but now his entire being plays with the beat of an idea he has to deliver.
Several points are to be mentioned regarding the use of body.
- Good posture – just as it was important with the voice it has its indisputable aesthetic reasons as well. It is one of the common mistakes to lean forward either to hold a pulpit or to simply stoop. While touching a pulpit can ease speakers psyche during preaching it is a poor habit that will hardly be appreciated by any congregation. One on one conversations are customarily accompanied by these “leaning tendencies” especially when a highly sensitive subject is dealt with. Kevin A. Miller, however warns us not to bring these inclinations to a stage: “…when we pull in our hands and lean our head a little lower, we can end up looking smaller and cramped, at just the moment our bodies should be communicating, “This is big news! Listen to this!””
- Eye Contact – The two sphere-like sources of our visual perception are crucial to our countenance. All preachers passions and emotions, his inner thoughts and workings are represented in their utmost fullness and power in his eyes. With those can he penetrate into the soul of his audience and “enter into a living sympathy with them.” Bryan Chapell summed it up as follows “You must look at people! The eyes can spit fire, pour out compassion, and preach Christ in you. When you deny people your eyes, you really deny them yourself. No one ever talks to them without looking at them – unless to insult them.”
- Gestures – Facial expressions, hand motions or stage movement are some of the visible ways we can provide accompaniment to our verbal presentation. Here, moderation is always the order of the day. While it is unnatural to remain stiff, an overdone action is rarely an improvement to ones delivery. At this point, it is an uneasy task to cover all the instances as gestures present us almost with unlimited possibilities. “Quintilian says: “As to the hands, without which delivery would be mutilated and feeble, it can scarcely be said how many movements they have, when they almost equal the number of words.” However two things are in my opinion to be highlighted. As a note of variety, any monotonous repetition of any given set of motions is a shortcoming. And secondly, any planned or calculated gesture that does not originate spontaneously out of a feeling will more often than not show as unnatural. Instead of a fresh invigoration, our message will be marked by a synthetic acting.
Use of Technology
It is of a great gain to learn from the legends of preaching; unfortunately most of them have only little to say to the use of modern inventions. Today an entire new world of audio-video production unravels for contemporary speakers who ought to take the challenge of their age seriously. The proper and effective way of using audio equipment, projectors, presenting software, even video series or audio podcasts is not to be underestimated. In other words much of what was discussed can be instantly thrown away by an incorrect use of a simple hand-held microphone. Since not all speakers are technically proficient, therefore it is recommended to seek out and team up with a church member or a friend who might acquaint us with the essentials and possibly even actively take care of the rest. Drawing on the cautious words of Kenton C. Anderson, we must steer clear of substituting sermon study with a technological polish as “in the end, we might have a pretty presentation without much worth presenting.” He further adds “Garbage on the page will be garbage on the screen.”
Use of Feedback
At last it must be said that if one is to systematically improve his skill as an effective communicator that captivates those he is witnessing to, he is utterly dependent on evaluation. Without an appreciation of what needs enhancement or correction it is only hardly attainable to reach any progress. During the time of delivery one is generally immersed in the moment of an entire happening, with all intensity feeling adrenaline in his system, as he sways from one sincere emotion to another to faithfully exemplify the message he strives to usher into the lives of his listeners. Under such circumstances one just does not have a surplus of care that could be reserved solely for an objective judgment of his presentation. Audio-video recordings can be of great help here, which we can subsequently give our full attention, while receiving a judicious feedback from an elder or a friend is another option. To include an experience to me yet foreign “…no one can be in this respect so helpful as an intelligent wife.” [Broadus]
- 5 keys to great nonverbal communication (prdaily.com)
- Interesting Findings of the Study of Nonverbal Communication (hr.answers.com)
- 8 Games to Help You Practice Nonverbal Communication at Home with Family and Friends (homework.answers.com)
- Why is it that people don’t get a lot from my sermons? (yingyee.wordpress.com)