Breakthrough Secrets To Engaging Students In Your Next Talk


“God doesn’t need flawless communicators just faithful hardworking ones.” – Doug Fields

At the National Youth Workers Convention you will find excellent speaking with an outstanding stage presence. Presenters have refined their skills to engage the crowds and it is easy to see that their hard work is paying off. At this year’s conference Josh Griffin and Doug Fields shared from their combined 50 years of ministry experience to challenge youth workers in how they lead from the stage. Here are breakthrough secrets to engage students in your next talk!

Be Authentic. 

Use your life but remember that not all of your stories are winning stories. You can expose your failures and pains but only share at an appropriate level. The real you is inviting, so take time to craft personal stories. If you are wanting to discuss a topic outside of your scope then it might be time to bring out an expert panel. Stay away from stories that you don’t own because if you are fake, your audience will know.

Be Funny. 

Humor opens the door to engaging your students. Doug explains the essence of humor as taking your audience down a path and then quickly jumping in an unexpected direction. Use images, memes, and videos but think through your transitions out of a funny moment. Get the audience laughing, pause, and then connect the humor to the principle you are teaching. Self-deprecating humor is the best because when you make fun of yourself the audience leans in and identifies with you more. Also, consider using call back humor by bringing back a joke from earlier in your message.

Be Different

Make the message come alive. To do this, you might use different tools like discussion questions, testimonies, or even a change in the venue. Know when in the message your audience is going to need a break or time to breathe. Silence can become a mini illustration. Use a dramatic pause to draw the students back into your talk.

Be Clear. 

For students to follow along in your talk, they need your message to stick: Study, Think, Illustrate, Construct, Keep-focused. When you introduce an object lesson or story, students might not need to see how it connects all at first, but you don’t want to leave them hanging too long. Create a clear call to action and help each student know what their next step is as a result of your talk.

Be Intentional. 

Always bait your hook. Walk on the stage with confidence knowing that you did the work necessary to deliver an engaging message. Know how are you going to grab their attention. You can make something feel spontaneous yet it is fully planned. Be intentional in connecting your humor, illustration, story, or object to the goal of your message. Also, work on phrases that build an authentic bridge to your audience. Saying something like, “and that’s what I want for you as well” or “here’s why I really want you to get this” are great phrases to engage with your students.

Proverbs 15:2, “The tongue of the wise commends knowledge, but the mouths of fools pour out folly.”

You have been entrusted with the responsibility of presenting the good news message of Jesus. Work hard to engage your students in your next talk! 

“If you think the gathering of biblical facts and standing up with a Bible in your hand will automatically equip you to communicate well, you are desperately mistaken. It will not. You must work at being interesting. Boredom is a gross violation, being dull is a grave offense, and irrelevance is a disgrace to the gospel. Too often these three crimes go unpunished and we preachers are the criminals.” – Charles Swindoll

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