Are You An Effective Communicator?

I was in a meeting the other day where the presenter had a lot of good information.  It was strong stuff.  However, I looked around the room and noticed – NOBODY is listening!  They were all on their phones, checking email, daydreaming, or doodling.  It wasn’t because the presenter didn’t have good, solid information to share.  It was because he was a POOR communicator.  If he had put half as much effort into his presentation as he obviously had in researching his info, it would have turned out much differently.

When you step in front of a group (whether that is kids, your adult leaders, or the adults in your congregation), are you an effective communicator?  You may answer yes, but what would your audience say?

No matter what audience you are in front of, you have to do everything you can to grab their attention and hold it for the appropriate amount of time.  Your goal is to COMMUNICATE, not just talk.

I love this list from the late Zig Ziglar, who was one of the top professional speakers in America for decades.  Here are his ten guidelines for becoming an effective communicator:

  1. Appearance:  How you look has an impact on others.  Be sure your appearance produces a positive effect. Look the part.  If you are speaking in front of the congregation, don’t look like you do on Saturday Afternoon.  How you present yourself goes a long way towards having your audience BELIEVE in you as the leader.
  2. Posture:  Stand straight.  Walk confidently.  Use body language that is consistent with your words.
  3. Gestures:  Do what comes naturally, but be sure to do something.  Gestures actually help you express yourself better.
  4. Eye Contact:  Your eyes are extremely expressive.  Use them to send positive signals to your audience.
  5. Facial Expressions:  Use expressions appropriate for what you’re saying to help you set the tone of your message.
  6. Voice:  Vary your pitch, volume, inflection, and pace.  As your voice changes, people pay more attention.
  7. Involvement:  Engage your audience.  Ask questions.  Use their names.  Talk about what is important to them.
  8. Questions:  Handle them well.  Listen carefully and think before responding.
  9. Humor:  Used wisely, humor will help others relax and become more friendly and open to your ideas.
  10. Visual Aids:  Pictures are often more effective than words.  Plus, whenever your audience is looking as well as listening, you’re more likely to hold their attention.

Being an effective communicator is so much more than just talking.  If you correctly use these ten points from Zig, you can go a long way toward reaching and moving your audience.  What about you?  Which of these do you struggle with?  Which do you do well?  Leave a comment and enter the discussion!


Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

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3 thoughts on “Are You An Effective Communicator?

  1. Exactly. Recently, a denominational state-wide camp director said to me, “We cannot find anyone like you anymore. Children’s pastors no longer know how to stand up and command the attention of 300 kids. They know how to delegate and know how to run a video curriculum, but they personally don’t know how to communicate in an engaging way.” So, Brian, I believe your post is TIMELY.

    As a Children’s Pastor I’ve always seen myself as “the senior pastor for the kids.” One of the key roles of a senior pastor is sharing the Word of God relevantly with his congregation. “Lord, help us to share your Truth with our ‘young congregation’ in exciting, equipping, enabling ways.”

  2. Three profound additions to Mr. Ziglar’s list:
    1 ) Something VISUAL – a picture or story (parable) that captures the message in an image
    2) Something AUDIBLE – a story (parable) or phrase that enters the “ear gate”
    3) Something KINESTHETIC (Tactile) – a motion or action to re-state or apply the message

    It’s all about learning styles, an the problem is that most of us default to teach in our own predominant learning style. That leaves two-thirds of the audience reaching for their smart phones.

    BTW – 395 elementary kids on a gym floor for 20 minutes? No problem…..