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Talk Like TED
Because simple is better than complex.
Preachers are notorious for making the simple complex. Let’s reverse the narrative.
Preachers can learn a lot about making the complex simple by learning how to talk like TED. More on him in a second.
We can summarize our points this way:
First, simple is better than complex.
Second, less is often more.
Third, focused defeats scattered every time.
These may sound like no-brainer communication principles.
But how many of our sermons are complex, longer than necessary, and scattered?
Truth hurts. I know. 🙂
These three principles are at the heart of why the TED Talks are wildly popular, receiving not thousands but millions of views.
According to duarte.com,
A TED Talk is (at max) 18 minutes long—a length chosen by TED organizers based both on neuroscience and strategy. They understood that 18 minutes was long enough for a speaker to flesh out an idea, but short enough that a listener could take in, digest, and understand all of the important information.
TED curator Chris Anderson explains:
“The 18-minute length works much like the way Twitter forces people to be disciplined in what they write. By forcing speakers who are used to going on for 45 minutes to bring it down to 18, you get them to really think about what they want to say. What is the key point they want to communicate? It has a clarifying effect. It brings discipline.”
And that’s what we want. Clarity.
But let’s be clear, a sermon is not a TED Talk. We are not merely presenting information.
However, the principles apply.
Simple is better than complex for the basic reason that simple leads to understanding while complex breeds confusion.
Granted, there is a time when complexity is necessary.
However, it is the preacher's job to make the complex as simple to grasp as possible rather than turn the simple into something confusing.
Also, less can be more, especially when it forces the speaker to choose specific words in advance over any words that come to mind in the moment.
Neuroscience hinting that shorter speeches (think sermons) may lead to greater retention than longer ones, is something to consider as well.
As a personal anecdote, the positive feedback on my own sermons increased dramatically when I shortened my preaching window from forty minutes to twenty-five.
Of course, I’m setting myself up with that, knowing that a preference for shorter sermons could be due to my ineffective preaching in the first place! 😅
Nevertheless, these principles of communication influence the focus of a message.
Just like a rifle is inherently more powerful than a shotgun, a focused sermon is (on paper) more powerful than one that runs through the woods chasing rabbits.
I say “on paper” because we know the Spirit is able to use the most poorly prepared sermon to do a powerful work in the heart.
But as a practice, I think we’d do well to consider simple vs complex, less vs more, and focused vs scattered.
The PPGR Preaching System is designed to align all of these areas of communication into a clear method of sermon prep that not only saves time but increases clarity.