“The difference between an amateur and a professional is in their habits.”
– Steven Pressfield
There is nothing wrong with someone being an amateur communicator, but I'm sure your not satisfied with being that yourself. An amateur communicator is okay with being just as good as when they started, or just as good as they became in that first burst of improvement. They have no real reason to get past that point. If you are going to take this role seriously and develop as a professional communicator we need to put a stake in the ground and put a plan in place that will move you from where you are to where you want to be next year.
In order to get started on this journey of professional communication we need to break communicating into 5 phases. Each phase will exist to provide the structure for the next to lean on. Each has its place, and each will require you to master it or delegate it, but each must always be improving.
These 5 steps or phases become a habits that push you toward more effective preaching. The trick is to break them into these separate manageable phases. This allows you to spend more focused time without having to go back to redo your work.
Phase 1 - Calendaring
You've got 52 weeks of sermons coming up. What are you going to talk about? What issues need to be covered this year? What topics need to be covered every year? (See "You Are About To Create A Killer Teaching Series [From Scratch]" )
Phase 2 - Preparation
What does scripture say? What does your audience need to know? This is the phase where you will unpack what your specific audience needs to hear as it relates to the topic/scripture. This phase is what separates the men from the boys. It takes some hard work, but this is where the great messages come from. (See "The Most Under Recognized Ingredient in a Powerful Message")
Phase 3 - Writing
The writing phase is the detail phase. It’s where a painter begins to add texture. Where the designer adds his detail. It’s where you organize your thoughts into a coherent and dynamic message. (See "Please Stop Talking, My Brain Is Full")
Phase 4 - Delivery
The delivery phase is all you! It’s where you take the stage. All eyes and ears wait in anticipation. It’s where all your work presents itself to the world. This is what people are waiting for, whether they know it or not.
Phase 5 - Follow Through
Professional communicators know that the jobs not done when you leave the stage. They know that the real change happens once the message is over. And if you are going to get better as a communicator you’re going to need to get comfortable with follow through.
As an amateur you spent your time on phase 3 & 4. You would write your talk and deliver it. Then you would sit down and write your next talk. You would practice it and then deliver it, but this mini cycle just repeated itself. And it was hard work. It’s not as if these were your only responsibilities. Not many of us are fortunate to be paid just to teach for 30 minutes a week. There were many tasks on your plate. And it’s likely that this hasn’t changed over the years. We wear many hat’s and speaking is only one of them.
Finding time to work on phase 1, 2 and 5 takes a sizable amount of ongoing effort, but it makes you a lot more effective.
Question: Which phase do you enjoy the most?