1) When to preach to the choir
There are two types of religious speeches: informative and inspirational. If your speech is informative, make sure you’re not preaching to the choir. If your audience invited you to tell them things they already know, turn down the invitation. It’s a waste of your time and talent to get up there and just repeat stuff the audience already knows. One simple reason: Nobody will be listening – they have no reason to. After all, why bother spending the energy it takes to pay attention to a speaker if you already know everything he will say?
On the other hand, if your speech is inspirational, speak to the most like-minded audience you can find. Inspiration happens when you succeed at aligning the audience’s emotions with their thoughts. If their thoughts are all over the map, they’ll need different words to inspire them. You only have one speech to give – having an intellectually aligned audience will ensure that you get the most results from your talk.
2) Learn before you teach
Religious speakers often feel an obligation – or at least an opportunity – to expose their audience to the benefits of religion. To do this, they often try to convince their audience to accept their message using arguments they themselves don’t believe in. Although these “arguments” may seem sensational and appealing at the moment, they won’t work. Don’t assume your audience is less intelligent than you – and if you won’t accept the arguments you’re making neither will they. Instead, ask yourself “Why am I religious?” Why do you accept your own beliefs? Whatever reasons you have that compelled you to accept your ideas are the best arguments you can present to others to accept them as well. And if you can’t think of compelling reasons you accept your own beliefs, stop preaching to others to do so.
3) Don’t talk about stuff you don’t know
You’re not obligated to answer every question. You’re allowed to say you don’t know. No expert in any field knows everything. Don’t be scared that saying you don’t know something is going to cast aspersions on your message. After all, not knowing the answer to a specific question isn’t causing you to lose your religion, so why assume it will cause others to?
4) Be yourself
Religious speakers often try to portray themselves as a quintessential archetype of their religion. This is a mistake. Your audience consists of people with a wide variety of personalities and interests. If you cause them to think that all religious people are of one personality and character, they will not accept your message if they are not the same. So be yourself and let people see that regular people are religious as well.
5) Prepare for your specific audience
You may be very familiar with the material you’re teaching but your time at the podium will be limited, so you’ll need to prepare the points that you want to make. Remember that there are ideas that will need some background in order to be properly understood. Make sure you have enough time to present that background. And make sure that you present the background before the main point. You cant build a tower before the foundation. Speakers are often tempted, when given a limited amount of time, to make their main point first and then explain the requisite background. This is a mistake. Once the audience hears an idea without the necessary background they will develop a bias against accepting it such that even if you present the background afterward they will resist your message. Always teach the fundamentals first and then the details.
There are two types of religious speeches: informative and inspirational. If your speech is informative, make sure y…