Effective preaching is more than just about what you say. It’s also about how you say it, and not every preacher knows how to deliver a sermon. Too many sermons fail not because of bad content, but because of bad delivery. No matter how experienced you are, you should never stop learning. You should always be a student of sermon delivery because there is always room to improve.
So here are nine tips from my book Preach and Deliver that every pastor needs to know.
How to Deliver a Sermon
1. START FAST
The first words from your mouth should be powerful. They should compel your audience to want to hear more. What are you talking about? Why should I care? How does this impact me? These are questions people in the audience want to know.
People in the audience are only going to give you a minute to decide whether they want to listen or think about all the other things they have to do. Instead of sliding into your sermon, you need to start with a bang—like a bullet from a gun.
2. BE THE SAME ON STAGE AND OFF
How to deliver a sermon? The moment you step on that platform, your life is in the public eye. People will judge you on everything you say and do. You need to be the same person on stage and off. Far too many pastors fall because their private life doesn’t line up with their preaching life.
Authentic preachers stand on the stage, rip open their chest and reveal their heart to the congregation. Everything they say and do comes from deep within them. It’s not an act. It’s who they are deep inside, even when nobody’s watching.
3. LOOK PEOPLE IN THE EYE
Your eyes are a powerful tool. When you look at people, they look at you. It makes the message personal. You aren’t just speaking into the abyss; you are speaking to them.
When you look at everyone, you connect with no one. But when you focus on one, you connect with everyone. Eye contact signals engagement, confidence and trust. Trustworthy people look you in the eyes. Liars look away.
4. VARY YOUR PACE AND TONE
How to deliver a sermon includes the realization that variety grips our interest. Sameness, like the sound of a babbling brook, lulls us to sleep. Don’t be afraid to raise your voice for excitement, make sound effects when telling a story, whisper in a tender moment, or stand in silence for a few seconds.
Moving your voice, like moving your body, captures attention. People need space to think, and variety to keep their attention. A great message wrapped in a monotone voice is a tragedy.