12 Step Checklist to Make You a Better Speaker or Teacher

Whether you are speaking to a large group, facilitating discussion in a small group, or mentoring an individual, you can never stop improving as a speaker.

“Communication is the real work of leadership.” -Nitin Nohria

Teaching through a translator in Torino, Italy

Teaching through a translator in Torino, Italy


1. OPENING HOOK: Start where your audience is to get their attention. Use stories, etc. (Make sure you start with points of agreement… You want people to say “yes” with you from the get go.)

2. WHY THEY NEED TO KNOW: Use a short phrase to communicate why your audience needs to know what you are about to teach them. Identify a felt need.


3. DISEQUILIBRIUM: Use a novel illustration, object lesson, or information that casts new perspective on something familiar to your audience.

4. ANTICIPATE: Tell your audience what they are about to learn. If teaching from a biblical passage for example, pick a story with an entire plot: 1) clear conflict, 2) rising action, 3) climax & resolution.

5. PRIME THE PUMP: Share a simple, unique problem to solve. For example, ask a question that is difficult to answer to show group that they have not mastered the subject and have something to learn about this topic. Help them visualize by using props, etc.

6. COACH/TEACH: Try to organize your talk around 2-3 main points and focus on micro-skills  on which you can call people to action.

7. ILLUSTRATE: Illustrate or tell story to demonstrate an example of each main point. Vulnerability is essential.

8. DRILL: Involve people with hands-on, tangible exercises if possible. Make observations in the passage you are teaching to show how it shows us how we can practice on this needed skill.

9. DEBRIEF: Creatively present exploratory questions throughout your talk to help people verbalize (to themselves or to someone next to them) what they are learning and what they WANT to do with this new knowledge or skill. If you can get a person’s desire then they are more likely to respond to your call to action.

10. APPLY/REFLECT: Help your audience personally reflect on how this topic effects their everyday lives or situations they face.

11. GENERALIZE TRANSFER: Find a way to motivate the group to transfer what has been learned into their future endeavors. What response do you hope for or expect from your audience? What are the potential spinoffs or benefits from learning this skill or knowledge and taking action on it?

12. EVALUATE: After you’ve given your speech, talk, or seminar, evaluate the strengths, growth areas, questions that arose that require further study so you can improve next time you teach on this topic.

  • Which one of these 12 points do you feel like is a strength area for you?

  • Which one is a growth area for you?

  • Do you have any other helpful resources to share with folks who read this post?

Please comment below! I read and respond to every comment. And please share this through Facebook or Twitter if it was helpful to you. Thanks!


Good News: You are Loved. Jesus & the Gospel Proves It.

fly fishing with Jesus

The good news of Jesus Christ is that you are loved.

But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” –Romans 5:8

Jesus loves us not because we are these incredibly loveable fur balls who deserve his love. He loves us in a much deeper profound way than that. Jesus knows we are made from dust. He knows that we can’t possibly fathom how great and worthy he is of our awe and worship. He understands that we were all born of the seed of Adam which means in our own strength we have no chance of ever being completely pure. He knows how broken and frail we are even though we put on all sorts of prideful masks and crutches of victimization. And in the midst of all of that, when he was on the cross, paving a path for us sinners to cross over from death to life, he cried out to the Father in our defense:

Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing. –Luke 23:34


Most of us need daily reminders that we are loved so much. Without Gospel reminders we become jaded, cowardly, judgmental, and self-protective. And when we sway from feeling loved our ability to reflect the Light of Jesus’ love to others dims and dims and dims…


Youthworkers in Copenhagen, Denmark

I really believe that ministry is more “caught” than taught. What I mean by that is that young people learn more about being a disciple of Jesus by being around someone who is intentionally pouring their lives into them. Jesus spent most of his time with Peter, James, and John, and then the bulk of the rest of his time in ministry with the other eight of his 12 Disciples. Jesus was intentional about showing them day by day what it looked like to be in relationship with him. By being around him all of the time they learned by observation what his priorities were, how he spent his day, and what seemed to matter to him. They even observed what he ate, when he slept, how he recreated, how he talked to the Heavenly Father in prayer. For Jesus, it was “quantity” time with his Disciples as much or more than the “quality of time.”

Tallin, Estonia

Tallin, Estonia

Also, seek the peace and prosperity of the city to which I have carried you into exile. Pray to the LORD for it, because if it prospers, you too will prosper. -Jeremiah 29:7

Never Stop Sowing | Evangelism & the Sovereignty of God – the Meaning of Mark 4:1-9

Then I saw another angel flying in midair, and he had the eternal gospel to proclaim to those who live on the earth—to every nation, tribe, language and people. He said in a loud voice, ‘Fear God and give him glory, because the hour of his judgment has come. Worship him who made the heavens, the earth, the sea and the springs of water.’ – Revelation 14:6-7

Never Stop Sowing

As I get to know student ministry leaders in dozens of countries around the world, one of the most important topics we constantly keep at the forefront is the Gospel of Jesus and how we can communicate it effectively to young people. As the passage from Revelation above excites our imagination about the activity of God in the spiritual realm to spread the yeast of his Good News to every tribe, tongue, and culture, we need to keep reminding ourselves that evangelism is absolutely central to the mission of the church. As we explore the Parable of the Sower in Mark 4:1-9 in this post, I want to encourage you that no matter how hard you find it is to share the Gospel, or how discouraged you get, never give up on introducing people to Jesus. The central message of this parable is exactly that: NEVER NEVER NEVER STOP SOWING.

God’s Amazing Design for the Parent-Child Relationship | Colossians 3:20-21

Leaders must be close enough to relate to others, but far enough ahead to motivate them. – John C. Maxwell

Talking about parenting

Becky and I on a retreat in Northern California

Recently, my wife, Becky and I took a much needed retreat to Northern California with some friends to talk about life, marriage, leadership, and parenting. I talk alot about the need for retreat… and it was time to practice what I preach.

As a parent, and a leader in youth ministry development, I see a real need for encouragement from God’s Word on how to pursue God’s design for the parent-child relationship. The Apostle Paul offers some simple but life-changing instruction in Colossians that is probably drawn from his understanding of Exodus 20:12 which is the a commandment directed specifically toward the parent-child relationship: God instructs children:

Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be prolonged in the land which the Lord your God gives you.”(Exodus 20:12 )

This is the one commandment that is coupled with a direct blessing. All of the commandments are equally important, yet for some reason God adds a special blessing and motivation for following this commandment. Why? I think it is probably because FAMILY is the foundation of society. If we get this wrong, society will erode at break-neck speed. If we get the Parent-Child relationship wrong, patterns will get established that could govern the rest of our lives… and effect all of those other institutes God has ordained.

Mormon Evangelism: Sharing Christ with Mormons

Foreign Policy recently reported on some of the current statistics of Mormonism. In the article, The Mormon Missionary: The Things They Carried, they reported there are:

83,000 full-time missionaries of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints who serve in 405 missions around the world. The number of full-time missionaries has risen by some 40 percent since 2012, when the church lowered the minimum age for serving from 19 to 18 for men and from 21 to 19 for women. But conversions haven’t kept pace: The church recorded just 3.4 baptisms per missionary in 2013, compared with 4.6 in 2012.

In my travels I can attest to seeing more MormMormon Evangelismon missionaries all over the globe. I remember being in Samoa and seeing Mormon church after Mormon church as I drove throughout the island. Most Mormons introduce themselves as “Christians” and talk about their goal as “introducing people to Jesus Christ.” The problem is that, although their culture has many attractive attributes that display characteristics of Jesus Christ, their beliefs do not align with the teachings of the Bible. This can be very hard to know how to navigate in a conversation with a Mormon.

Probably the best book I’ve read on how to share the Gospel with Mormons is, I Love Mormons by David Rowe. Dr. Rowe has been a missionary to Mormons for a long time and offers keen insight. For Rowe, the proper starting point to Mormon evangelism is to approach it just as you would approach any other “culture”.  The wrong approach is to start with the perspective that  Mormonism is a “cult.” Although their beliefs do not align with Christianity, it is not effective to start out accusing them of being part of a cult. I highly recommend Rowe’s book. Some say that Mormonism will soon be, if not already, considered a “World Religion.” Followers of Jesus have a great opportunity in evangelism Mormons, and we need to prayerfully consider the urgency of missions to Mormons, as they are one of the more active “evangelists” of any other religion in the world.


Book Review: The Poverty of Nations – A Sustainable Solution by Wayne Grudem & Barry Asmus

Grudem and Asmus provide some thoughtful perspectives on how followers of Jesus Christ can actively engage in a compassion-filled ministry of social justice while going after the root causes rather than just the symptoms…

Centennial Review – June 2014

Good Relationships (in a Sinful World) Require Conflict Resolution Skills – Joshua 22

Conflict Resolution

“The harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph.” – Thomas Paine

Have you have had what you thought was a really great idea that in the end went horribly wrong? I share a story of one of my personal examples in the link below to my recent sermon on conflict resolution… Joshua 22 is a profound story that shows how three tribes of Israel had what they thought was a “Great Idea” but because of lack of communication, a colossal conflict was started amongst the other 9 the tribes of Israel.

Conflict resolution is not just a skill for counselors. If we want good relationships in a sinful world, we all have to learn how to resolve conflict. I recently taught on conflict resolution and thought I’d pass the link for you to listen along.

What You Will Learn about Conflict Resolution Skills By Listening to this Sermon:

  • The incredible context behind an epic conflict that almost began a civil war among Israel (Joshua 22)
  • Joshua 22 gives us a formula for conflict resolution that lawyers and professional peace-makers still use today.
  • An easy memory tool called, “CHESS” that you can use to diffuse and resolve conflicts successfully
      1. C: Who are the characters/people involved in the conflict?
      2. H: Historical relationships (what is the history behind the relationships in the conflict?
      3. E:  What is the flow of the Events to see where the problem arose?
      4. S: Sides (There are always two side’s of the story … if you want to be a peacemaker and relationship builder you need to realize there is always two sides to a story).
      5. S: State the problem clearly.  Joshua clearly states the problem and resources to resolve the problem. He the relevant issues, what made the problem blow up, etc. Then Joshua explained what resources the people had to deal with the problem to resolve the conflict (they had the Law of Moses, and the authority of the priests to look into the matter). [1]
  • How, “Conflict + Resolution = Intimacy”
  • How the Church today can re-learn conflict resolution skills to advance the Gospel more effectively


You may also enjoy another recent sermon from “Joshua 7: Achan’s Sin | the Human Story”

Please pass this post along to a friend who might benefit from it. Thanks!

[1] The case-writing principles developed in this post were inspired by the following case-study tool for missiology: 7 Steps to Making a Case Study into a Learning Tool