Speaking in any environment is challenging. Speaking to a room packed with wild middle school students is an entirely different experience. Every week, all of us who lead teens face the same challenge of connecting with a generation that demands effective communication if they are going to pay attention. Seriously, teens tune out poor communicators and it does not matter if you are leading a game, making announcements, or giving the message for the night. Teens demand effective communication so it’s on us to get better at this speaking thing. Here are four ideas we stress with all our communicators in our student ministry …
- Set a time limit — Seriously, 20-25 minutes is enough in your weekly environment. If you can’t communicate your message with effectiveness in 20 minutes to teens, they probably will not be able to retain it. Sure, you will have weeks when you go over with a closing illustration, but seriously set your timer because less is more when speaking to teens.
- Teach one BIG IDEA — We call this teaching toward a bottom line. Teach every message so teens can walk away with one big idea for the night. Teaching one big idea forces you to focus your talk and limit what you say. Focus leads to better communication.
- Be real — Seriously, teens just need you to be you. Nothing turns teens off like someone trying to be something they are not. Just be real, be you, be transparent. They need to hear from you, not Andy Stanley or Louis Giglio. There is nothing wrong with mentors, but God wants to use you to be an effective speaker.
- Teach truth — I should not have to say this, but never shy away from teaching the Bible to teens. They need to hear you teach the Bible in a way they can grasp, not four tips to be happy or have a better attitude in life. Teens need truth … have the courage to teach the Scripture with passion. If you have 20 minutes, you better make it full of truth!