I have sat through countless messages by numerous speakers, ranging from all sorts of subjects. Some of the time they are easily forgettable (the brain can only process so much at once, while the rest gets filtered out). Yet on many other occasions I can look back and articulate everything that was spoken to me. Why? Well, because for most of those instances, the speaker stuck to a single point and expounded on it to the point where it would never leave you. In this book, Stanley’s one point method is brought to the table, primarily for preaching, but it can apply to many areas of public speech, especially when the speaker wants something important to remain with his audience.
The book is broken into two halves, with one being primarily a fictional narrative between a preacher and a truck driver, all the while teaching the practicality of the one point method in mind. The second half breaks down into what was discussed in the first half through greater detail. I don’t know why, but whenever the retired truck driver spoke, Sam Elliott’s voice came to mind.
I can see where some might get a little hung up on this idea. Especially people who preach for a living. In my opinion, this seems like it would work out better for those who do topical messages or series rather than expository preaching, but the principles that it contains can be extremely helpful for both. I can understand the push back, but he does make his case for the why and answers the objections he typically gets pretty well.
Preaching here is seen in the same way as taking someone on a journey. This layout gives a number of helpful guidelines in the process.
-Determine your goal: what do you want to accomplish and where do you want your listeners to end up.
-Pick a point: One point in which the rest of the message will revolve around.
-Create a Map: The “Me We God You We” approach to getting the hearer on the same page as you.
-Internalize the message: He stresses that the message you preach is really not yours unless you can speak it out without glaring at your notes. He sees preaching as more of a one way conversation or the sharing of a story between the speaker and hearer, rather than a lecture.
-Engage your audience: This is the means of keeping the attention of your audience. Simply speaking like you’re reading a book will lose your hearer very quickly.
-Find your voice: Watching and studying how you preach can help you focus more on simply being yourself when you get in front of people, rather than creating a persona that is different than who you are. This will show your authenticity and humanity to others.
-Start all over: There is not much worse than getting stuck in a message or the preparation thereof. So these tools offered can help you get out of the mud. Ask questions like:
What do they need to know? Information
Why do they need to know it? Motivation
What do they need to do? Application
Why do they need to do it? Inspiration
How can I help them remember? Reiteration
Overall, I think this book offers some invaluable wisdom for public speaking, but I would not leave this as your only resource. I was told that if you were to only read two books on this subject, this would be one and the other would be “The Supremacy of God in Preaching” by John Piper. I’ll have to get to that one in the near future.