The difficulty of public speaking–message preparation, Part 1

Writing good message is hard work.

As I wrote in my book (with Duffy Robbins), Speaking To Teenagers, I believe that the craft of writing impactful messages is a very difficult task. There’s so many moving parts: the right word choices, the content, and the illustrations all work together to create something that people want to listen to and will move them toward life-change.

All good communicators want life-change!

But, it’s so difficult… especially to do it well week after week.

While I’m working on a message I’m always thinking about how to allow my content to “breath” a little so my audience stays with me. I try to give my audience enough space to listen so they feel like they’re in a conversation rather than a lecture. I’m constantly thinking illustrate, show rather than tell, relieve the tension, surprise them, drop a laugh-line, grab their attention, etc…

Because I take this craft very serious, I have gathered some friends along the way whom I will occasionally “run things by” so they’ll read my message (or a portion of my message) and give me feedback.

One of these guys is Brian Bird. Brian was one of my youth ministry volunteers for many years and the dad of several kids who went through our youth group. In addition to being an amazing man, he’s got a cool job. He’s a writer. He writes TV shows, movies, etc… He was the executive producer for Touched By An Angel and wrote on sitcoms for many years prior to that. He’s the real deal, and he’s on my informal “communication team.” [His blog is here and Twitter is @brbird.]

Last weekend I was preparing to teach at Mariners Church and I sent out a “help” email to a few buddies to get some help with word-choice. Every time this happens I get a new education of communication.

Tomorrow, in Part 2, I’ll show you the string of emails that took place between Brian and I and all that I learned. I think it will be helpful for those who communicate on a regular basis and have a desire to improve.

Part 2: coming tomorrow.

Question: Do you have a communication team? If so, how do they help you? Share here.

[Are you getting Doug’s daily blog in your email inbox?] If not, it’s real easy–go here.

Learn how to speak better

If you’re in the Southern CA area, I’d love to invite you to a seminar to improve your communication/speaking skills.

While it’s primarily intended for those who speak to teenagers, there’s a ton of practical and helpful information for anyone who is a speaker.

Here’s the details:

Thursday October 4th (9am-4pm)
Saddleback Church (at the Refinery)
1 Saddleback Parkway… Lake Forest, CA

Price: $25 pre-registration
$20 (groups of 4+)
$50 walk-up

Register at:

Here’s what you’ll learn:

Question: We’d love for you to join us… what questions do you have? Write them here.

Caption this photo & win $50

Several times a year my good buddy (and youth ministry hero) Duffy Robbins and I will conduct seminars for youth workers (Speaking to Teenagers) and parents (Building a Faith that Lasts). We always have a blast together and I’ve documented several good Duffy Robbins‘ stories on this blog (Korea and Dr. Ruth to name a couple) in the past. Anyway, I got this photo sent to me of an event we did last month in Syracuse, NY and I thought it needed a caption.

Provide the most creative caption and you’ll win $50 to Share them here.

[After 56 comments, we picked a winner (which was very difficult since many were very funny–and, to be honest, a couple were dumb–you know who you are). The winner is: “Duffy shoots himself in the head as Doug unveils yet another youth ministry acronym.” Congratulations Neal Bowes! I’ll email you a code to receive $50 in material from]

[Are you getting Doug’s daily blog in your email inbox?] If not, it’s real easy–go here.