7 Ways Communicators Kill Their Messages (And How to Avoid The Traps)

If you’ve ever spoken in front a group, tried to motivate a team, or if you prepare messages almost every week like many of us do, you’ve probably wondered what makes for a great talk.

In fact, you’ve probably asked questions like these:

What’s the difference between a talk that flops and a talk that people still buzz about years later?

What’s the difference between a merely good message and incredibly great message?

What’s the difference between a sermon that changes someone’s life and one that no one can remember even as they drive out of the parking lot?

If you’re like me, those questions might even bother you.

I hope they do. They haunt me.

And yet every week gifted communicators kill the messages they bring by making at least 7 predictable, fixable mistakes.

The good news is that once you identify the mistakes, though, you can address them.


 7 Ways Communicators Kill Their Messages

I’m writing from the perspective of a Christian who speaks. And as I wrote about here, I realize that the Holy Spirit is involved in a special way when we speak. He redeems terrible talks and converts people through his power, not our persuasive words. I get that.

But that shouldn’t be your fall back week after week.

The Holy Spirit’s work is not an excuse for laziness. It’s also no excuse for failing to develop a skill set that supports your gifting.

So if you’re at all interested in honing your gift set, identify and then address the 7 mistakes communicators make that almost always kill a message:


Stop Worrying: 5 Ways to Calm Your Nerves Before Your Next Message or Presentation

Chances are you have to give a message or presentation in the next month.

And chances are you’re already nervous about it.

No matter how long you’ve been speaking or how often you do it, almost all of us get nervous before we speak.

I was texting with a friend recently, and he mentioned he was suffering ‘the usual nerves’ because he had to speak Sunday at his church.

He’s an amazing communicator God has used to speak to thousands of people again and again. All I could think of was “you always do such a great job…why are you nervous?”

But it’s just a reminder that for most of us, including me, the fear never entirely goes away. After all, fear of public speaking is allegedly the #1 fear people experience.

Even though the fear doesn’t entirely go away, the fear doesn’t have to be debilitating. And it certainly doesn’t have to be destructive.

In fact, using a few simple strategies, you can learn to manage it and maybe even make it work in your favour.



First A Little Theology

Of all the directions issued in scripture, one of the most common is simple “Do not be afraid.”

I need to hear that all the time. Fear often stands in the way of faith. And somewhere in that dialogue between God or an angel and people is misplaced confidence.

I might always be asking “Do I have what it takes”, but the real question is not whether I have what it take, but whether God does.

Often the difference between an effective leader and an ineffective leader is the difference between someone who pushes through their fear and someone who succumbs to it.

Clearly God expects to experience fear (otherwise telling people to not be afraid makes no sense); he just encourages you to push through it.

The question is how do you do it?


5 Ways to Calm Your Nerves Before You Speak

Naturally, you want to pray and trust God. And I’m just going to assume you’re going to do that. But what practical strategies can get you through your fear and on into the message you need to deliver?

When I follow these 5 practices, I find my fear becomes far more manageable, and the little bit that’s left just gives me an edge that is actually helpful, not harmful. It pushes you to do better.


If You’re the Leader, You’re the Lid (And 3 Things You Can Do About It)

Today, a really simple—but powerful—principle.

If you’re the leader, you’re the lid.

I know I’d rather pretend that’s not true, but it is.

Here’s what it means:

Over time, the team and organization you lead will never grow past where you’ve grown.

If you stop growing in an area, people who want to grow past that point will simply find another leader to follow.

So this just makes me nervous. As a leader, I set limits that impact others.

How do you overcome it?

It’s Everywhere

As much as you and I would like to pretend that we’re not the lid as leaders, the truth takes us elsewhere.

Your lid operates in every area of your life and leadership. As a leader, you become the organization lid






And on the list goes….

People who want to grow past where you’ve grown will move on.

So how do you keep growing?


3 Ways to Remove Your Lid

So what do you do about it? Three things have consistently helped me grow:


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