What’s the essence of a great sermon?

Whitney Johnson gives us a clue in responding to a similar question, “What’s the essence of a great presentation?”

Her answer: “Connection not perfection.”

I’m sure we’ve all sat through “perfect” sermons (or even preached them), that simply never connected. The perfect manuscript was perfectly read. The perfect hand gestures jived with perfect tone and volume. Perfect illustrations supported perfect applications.

But no connection.

The preacher was in his perfect world and we were in our imperfect world. And not once did the two bubbles meet.

How does this happen?

Johnson says it always happens when the speaker’s focus is on his performance rather than his audience’s benefit. She describes how her own presentation skills dramatically improved when she stopped thinking about impressing – How am I doing? Do I sound good? – and started thinking about helping and serving her clients.

In setting aside the script and focusing on the client’s bottom line, instead of our own, we lay the groundwork for a long-lasting rapport. Of course, it is essential that we are well prepared and know our material cold; however, knowledge alone is insufficient. Moving away from a scripted, pundit-style, one-size-fits-all message, we will certainly make mistakes. But, the only real mistake is thinking that these slip-ups equal failure. If we focus on the audience, not ourselves, whether in a one-on-one meeting or a packed auditorium, we’ll deliver a crowd-pleasing, even praiseworthy, performance every time: because success is ultimately about connection, not perfection.

So why not set aside the manuscript from time to time – or at least rely less upon it – and try to connect more, even at the expense of a few verbal slip-ups.

There are many in our pews who would gladly sacrifice some pulpit perfection for some personal connection.

Read the whole story here.