Category Archives: Presentations

Book Review: Preaching with Accuracy by Randal Pelton

What makes a great sermon? Stories? Self-help? One big idea? Brevity? For Randal Pelton, great preaching flows out of Christ-centered interpretation of the Biblical text. Instead of fuzzy preaching, Pelton’s approach is focused to sticking with the actual interpretation the Bible states.

Pelton has a great idea in this book, to preach building on the solid foundation of God’s Word. Notice it’s foundation, not foundations. He’s not advocate of multiple interpretations of a Bible passage, but a clear interpretation that ties into the overall message of the Bible which is Christ.

Reading this book, I developed a greater appreciation for a clear understanding of the verses that are preached. Instead of a fuzzy recollection of what verses might mean I felt a greater commitment to dig deeper into the Biblical text that is to be proclaimed. The unified overall story combined with the unique story of the passage being considered provides greater clarity in the message proclaimed.

Preaching with Accuracy

What I enjoyed most about this book was Pelton’s engagement with other homiletical / preaching view points. Tim Keller, Rick Warren, Rob Bell, Haddon Robinson, Bryan Chappell and many others. This provided a greater strength to the dialogue and a greater level of processing my own preaching style. I didn’t always agree with his conclusions about individual preaching styles, but I did appreciate the engagement.

Where Pelton lost me is making something that seemed simple, feel so complicated. Textbi Conbi Canbi referring to text, context, and canon. All of a sudden it felt like a physics book, and physics books confuse me. I was also hoping that an emphasis on preaching with accuracy would have more on application that interpretation. Perhaps this book is intended for seminary classrooms, and that’s why it needs to offer a greater level of sophistication. I was left disengaged by this part of the book.

I give Preaching with Accuracy 3 out of 5 stars. The 3 stars are for the emphasis on a clear focus on what God actually says int he Bible to be interpreted correctly. The book left me with a greater value for this practice. The lost of the 2 stats is for making complicated what seemed so simple. This book is a good tool for those new to the preaching craft and new to the idea of building off the Biblical text and not the latest self-help emphasis.

My thanks to Kregel Academics for a free copy to review. I wasn’t required to give a positive review just an honest one.






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Book Review: Speaker Leader Champion by Jeremey Donovan and Ryan Avery

While in college I took a class on Public Speaking, the professor treated us like a Toastmasters meeting. He taught us to prepare speeches, deliver speeches, and best of all to speak extemporaneously when asked a question.

What I loved most about Speaker Leader Champion: Succeed at Work through the Power of Public Speaking by Jeremey Donovan and Ryan Avery is how they synthesize the best principles of world champion toastmasters for every day communicators like me.

They not only provide 92 valuable tips for public speakers, they give practical examples from world champion winning toastmaster speeches. They take the theory and show how it works in speaking. Avery should know. He’s the 2012 World Champion of Public Speaking, and Donovan wrote another great book speaking, “How to Deliver a TED Talk.”

Some of the tips that I found immediately beneficial involved the use of criticism in Toastmasters that seeks to correct in a way that affirms what is good and points to what can be better next time. That helped me to process the tips that were shared. The one I immediately put to use dealt with eye contact for a specific period of time as well as slowing down between commas and periods in a manuscript.

That’s why I find books like this so valuable. They help me to see what others do well so that I can do better in communicating myself. Building off the Toastmaster approach, this has application to not only those in Toastmasters but also those who simply want to be a better public speaker.

What makes this book even more valuable is Appendix 1 which highlights insights from 9 World Champion Speakers. I found it interesting to compare what was similar and what was unique to each approach to speaking.

I give Speaker Leader Champion 5 out of 5 stars. This book is essential for those wanting to be Toastmasters champion but also for people like me who speak publicly. The tips were quick to the point, practical and immediately beneficial in being and becoming a better speaker.

Thanks to Jeremey Donovan for a free copy to read. I wasn’t required to review but simply want to encourage others to read a great book on public speaking.

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Book Review: Secrets of Dynamic Communication by Ken Davis

The greatest lesson I learned from Ken Davis in speaking is to focus your message. Having heard an audio version of his SCORRE Conference years ago, I was eager to review what I had been taught and pick up some ways to fine tune my public speaking.

His revised and updated Secrets of Dynamic Communication  book not only help me review what I had learned, but build upon those basics to become a better speaker.

The key insight is to focus, focus, focus. Be able to summarize your speech in one sentence. You build from that foundation.

According to Ken, the purpose of SCORRE (Subject Central theme Objective Rationale Resources Evaluation) is two-fold:

1. A scope to force the speaker to focus on a single objective.

2. A logical grid forcing the speaker to make sense and lead the audience to the objective.

What I like about Ken’s book is how he draws from own his experience in teaching this method and even more in practicing this method. This is not written by a mere theoretician of speaking, Ken has practiced this craft for years. An added bonus to the book is his teaching style utilizes a creative and life building sense of humor.

This time around in learning of the SCORRE method, I appreciated what followed that opening part. The chapter on Maximizing the Communication Environment (Killing the Gremlins) told how and why proper lighting and sound is to speaking. Most resources say, make sure to have proper lighting and sound. Ken gave specific reasons why, including the pluses and minuses of wireless microphones to those on podiums to those held in one’s hand. He described the goal of lighting for a speaker is for facial expressions to be seen. A communicator is more than the words he speaks.

His words on eye contact in dealing with an audience and how to use effective body language showed specific ways to focus on individuals with a complete thought and not just a few seconds here and there of connection.

I give Secrets of Dynamic Communication 5 out of 5 stars. Ken does a great job of not only laying out a method for writing one’s speech, but also for delivery. Focus is key, but building on that foundation Ken shows how that structure can shine. I recommend this book to pastors and other communicators looking to fine tune and enhance their own speaking ability.

My thanks to for a free copy to review. I wasn’t required to give a positive review, I simply found it to be a great read and even more a great tool to enhance my speaking.

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Book Review: One Year to Better Preaching by Daniel Overdorf

A recent presenter said that only 5 out of 100 pastors read a book on preaching once they get out of seminary. I try to read one every year, and One Year to Better Preaching by Daniel Overdorf is a great read for this year.

Overdorf provides 52 short chapters that provide exercises to hone one’s preaching skills. In the art and craft of preaching developing such skills is essential to move beyond cranking one out each week to connecting with the flow of the Holy Spirit to speak through one’s personality, giftedness and growth. Overdorf even includes 7 bonus exercises.

Yet the great gift of this book in skill development is how it provides bite size opportunities to sharpen the saw. The exercises are to be used weekly or monthly. You can pick and choose over a variety of areas from prayer prep to Biblical interpretation to understanding listeners to the crafting of a message to its delivery and to the scariest part — evaluation.

Not only does Overdorf give good insight, he also provides abundant additional insight. Each chapter features input from people who have tried the exercise . Their insight gave another pair of eyes to see the exercise and the impact it could make. For me this helped move each chapter from homiletical theory to preaching practice.

In addition Overdorf includes resources for further study, including an online web linked resource to a number of the articles that you can explore here.

Some of my favorite exercises dealt with Balance Your Biblical Diet to Write in E-prime. The Biblical diet balance was to look at what texts you’ve preached in the past few years, while e-prime helped with crafting words that get to the point than lose people in the journey. My least favorite was to Critique a Video of Yourself, a necessary exercise, but a scary one!

I give One Year to Better Preaching 5 out of 5 stars. Such books are vital to hone one’s preaching and public communication skills. What a great resource for every pastor and for that wise group of pastors that call out the best in each other to bring the best each week to the message God gives them to share.

My thanks to Kregel for publishing such a great resource and providing a free copy to review. I was not required to give a positive review just an honest one.

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Book Review: How to Deliver a TED Talk by Jeremey Donovan

TED talks are great! TED talks are inspiring! TED talks are typically 18 minutes or less. I am a 35 minute preacher in a 20 minute church, you see the challenge. I thought the solution might be to simply speak faster, but people suggested I slow down. I was tempted to say, “Listen faster.”

Then I heard of TED talks and became a fan of watching them, learning from them. TED stands for Technology Entertainment, Design. Even more it is a collection on their web page of outstanding communicators. When I saw Jeremey Dononvan‘s book, How to Deliver a TED Talk: Secrets of the World’s Most Inspiring Presentations, I knew it was a book I needed to read.

Like a TED talk, Jeremey cuts to the chase. His writing is focused, on topic, and directed to his readers. What I thought about TED talks (think Steve Jobs, think incredible visual presentations), missed the thrust of what they are ultimately all about. One type of TED talks are those with amazing jobs (pun intended). But there is a second type, ordinary people. I had thought TED talks would teach me how t use technology better to avoid death by PowerPoint to leveraging visuals in communicating. Turns out not all TED talks are visual displays, of the top ten watched TED talks four have no slides.

The inspiring idea is what matters. Developing that idea to a catchphrase and staying focused from introduction through the talk to conclusion is the thrust of the book. Like a TED talk, Jeremy keeps the book moving. It’s a quick read. Even more it has some great examples and excerpts from actual TED talks. Since reading the book it has been good to go and watch online and see how what I read works in the actual presentation.

I give How to Deliver a TED Talk, 5 out of 5 stars. I not only learned much about making presentations, I enjoyed what I read, even more importantly I am applying what I read. Still have to hit the 20 minute mark in weekend messages, but I appreciate the tips to leverage the world’s greatest message in a way that gets me out of the way so that lives can be inspired and transformed. As Chapter 14 says, “Stop reading and start speaking.”

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Evernote 4000

Since being introduced to Evernote in the Spring of 2011, I just hit 4,000 notes now saved. It use to be I would fill filing cabinets with illustrations, quotes, magazine articles, ideas (10 cabinets), but now I am more likely to file it in Evernote.

For me Evernote is an electronic filing system, where I put my messages, my posts, travel plans, copies of important documents as well as all those items that went in my filing cabinet. It helps organize media and quotes, pictures and principles I want to share.

Different notebooks from a general one, to specific one’s such as lists where I track my mileage are part of the Evernote system. Mainly I use Evernote for message illustrations.

Here’ s why I like Evernote better then my file cabinets in my office. The cabinets in my office are limited to my office for access. The files in Evernote are limited to finding a computer with Internet access. That means my work computer, my home computer, my ipod or any other computer. You simply access the web, and  sign on. You can also sync to your computer to save files to use offline.

Another Evernote plus is Web Clipper. You just highlight what you want to save  with your mouse, click web clipper, and a screen pops up for you to put the title, folder and file name or names you want. Yes another plus for me on Evernote is instead of being  limited to one file per item, I can list multiple files.

Want to know more about Evernote? Check out Michael Hyatt’s numerous blogson Evernote. He convinced me to get on it, and I have been thankful since day 1. I started with the free version, and later upgraded to the premium. Try it out for free. My desire to e-mail files to Evernote led me to the premium as well as the larger size I am allowed to use each month.

Have you tried Evernote? What have you loved best in what Evernote can do for you?

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Presentation Novice to Student of Presentation Zen by Garr Reynolds

A library is a great place to check out books. Not only can you check them out to read, you can check them out before you eventually buy.

Such is the case for me with Presentation Zen 2nd Edition revised and updated by Garr Reynolds. I read the 1st edition as a checked out book from the library a few years ago. I had been to a conference and had been amazed by the presentations. Instead of death by power point, I became a visual learner. Even more I became an engaged advocate. I wanted to begin to learn how to create presentations that brought people to life and action. I am in the resurrection business.

I began to apply such lessons in mid-week Lenten Bible studies. Screen down, notes to take, pictures and Bible verses to show. I have done that for a few years seeking to apply in that 6 week window annually the lessons I learned from Presentation Zen 1st Edition.

After this year’s mid-week Lenten experience, one of our members / visual learners, told me that she engaged more with what I was teaching to the use of visuals. She’s an artist and I had incorporated a few famous paintings along the way as well as pictures from every day life. She suggested I apply that appeal to visual learners on weekend messages. So this summer that’s what I began to do.

I realized I had not been trained for this. I looked for books on preaching and presentations, and none were to be found or at least none found by me.

This time instead of checking out Presentation Zen I bought my own copy from Amazon. One I could mark up, read and re-read. I can’t tell you the specific differences between edition 1 and edition 2 except there seemed to be a bit more depth and mroe examples.

While I love Garr’s own insights, I appreciate his willingness to include others. Guy Kuwasaki writes or presents the perfect foreword or perhaps now its forepicture of Presentation Zen. Seth Godin. Nancy Duarte and others along with Garr gives the best practices / best picture view of presentations.

Garr’s insights are simple ideas on presentation design and delivery. Most importantly he taught me to think through first the message i want to share and the response I seek, even before I look for the pictures I want to show.

And when picture time comes, rule of thumb is no more than 6 words per slide. Once you embrace this rule, it makes it tough to watch presentations with more than 16 words per slide and not muttering under your breath, “Death by Powerpoint”.

In addition to Garr’s book, I’ve picked up a few others. I am still seeking to learn a new style and there have been some mistakes along the way.

Last week’s challenge was though someone had been kind enough to turn the computer on and load up media shout, the projector had not been turned on. Since in that service my only message prompts are the slides and not a manuscript, it made for a potential interesting message. Fortunately one wiser than I figured out the issue and cranked the projector on and the learning could begin.

It is said a big is worth a thousand words. Perhaps even better is the power of focus that a thousand word picture can bring. Back in June when preaching on Psalm 8 and the majesty of God’s creation, the power of Hubble telescope pictures captured the incredible beauty of the universe more than my limited superlatives could bring. Awe Seen + Awe Spoken = Praise Filled Awe for our incredible God.

So on this journey toward learning how to make presentations, I invite you to join me and teach me. Together may we learn how to present the truths of who God is and what God is doing so that lives are transformed now and  for eternity. Because when it comes to death, I’d rather die for my purpose than by my powerpoint. Death by Chocolate gets a vote, too! Got any tips for this novice learning presentation preaching?


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