Bitesize Messages: Nailing the one point.

One of the pivotal rules to communicating any type of message clearly is the ability to reduce it down to a single motif.

I should come away from your sales pitch, event flyer, email, Sunday sermon, or training seminar able to distill it into a simple sentence and then recognisably say it back to you. If I can’t, then something was probably missing from your preparation or design.

The one-liner is to a message as blood is to the body, without it nothing else works. In an essay, every paragraph should in some way serve the thesis. If it doesn’t then you’ve wasted words and lost the reader. My wife is an editor, and awesome at it! She talks about leading the reader by the hand and pointing things out along the way. She makes sure nothing is missed and that everything serves the whole. This is true in any communication that you want to be clearly understood by a varied audience.

The point of a one-liner isn’t to simplify your message to the spoon-feeding level, and it’s not supposed to remove complex ideas or deep explanations from your messages either. The reason you want a clear one-liner is the same reason an academic essay needs a thesis, or a research paper a hypothesis. A message needs to translate throughout with clear transitional flow between all the auxiliary pieces so that it will deliver a working application to a varied audience. Basically, to the best of your ability, you need to be sure that we got what you wanted us to!

Arguably, if you can’t tell me what your message is about in one sentence, then you just haven’t got your message yet. Once you have your one-liner – that’s the motif you want everyone in the room to come away with – then your message (however funny and confidently delivered) will be fractured, disjointed and ultimately ineffective. If you can’t clearly point to your one-liner, then your audience will tend to take away only one point anyway, and without a clear lead from a purposely defined message, it might not be the one you wanted!

The 3 Point Sermon Myth.

I started public speaking when I was about 14 years old, and man was I bad at it. I would just plagiarise everything I’d ever heard from real speakers and thread it all together randomly. I fell quickly into the ‘three-point-sermon’ trap, making sure I always had an ‘abc’, ‘123’ or ‘3 Cs’ structure for each message.

The classic three-point sermon, however, doesn’t really exist; or at least, not like you’d think. There are actually 3 types of three-point sermon, and I believe that only one of them is effective:

1. The 3-but-really-5 point sermon.
This is where the speaker throws in three points, but also an absurdly long introduction and conclusion which, rather than setting up the points, adds to the body with new points. We end up with a huge, misweighted, grab bag of facts, stories, applications and ideas in the hope that one or two might stick.

2. The literally 3 point sermon.
Here, there really are three points; completely different points with little if anything to connect or consolidate them. Time being a factor, each point is represented only one way, so are usually only grasped by a few people in the room that connected with that particular teaching style or story.

3. The 1-point-3-ways sermon.
This is the one that I think works! Coming at one idea from three perspectives broadens your teaching scope meaning almost everyone will leave with the same key teaching understood in their own way. This respects the variety of the room, allows ideas to percolate and cement, and moves the whole congregation on together.

Find your message!

If we as youth workers can work on making all of our communication revolve around single clear ideas, and make sure everything else supports them, we will be so much more effective and memorable! This is true for talks, studies, posters, websites, letters to parents and evangelism too. If we don’t do this, we shouldn’t be surprised when we are misunderstood or taken out of context.

For an interesting thought experiment, think about these questions:

  • What one-liner would the young people you know associate with your teaching?
  • What one-liner would the young people you know associate with your teaching?What one-liner do you try to make the clearest when talking to non-Christians?
  • What one-liner do you try to make the clearest when talking to non-Christians?What one-liner would young people use to describe you?
  • What one-liner would young people use to describe you?What one-liner would young people use to describe the God you represent?
  • What one-liner would young people use to describe the God you represent?Looking back at your last three talks, what was the one-liner you wanted to get across? Did you have one?
  • Looking back at your last three talks, what was the one-liner you wanted to get across? Did you have one?Asking young people and leaders (who were present at those talks), ask them to write down what they thought your one-liner was.
  • Asking young people and leaders (who were present at those talks), ask them to write down what they thought your one-liner was.Look back over your last bulk communications (letters/emails/blogs), and ask a few of the recipients to email you back a one-line summary of what they felt the most important thing you were trying to communicate was.
  • Look back over your last bulk communications (letters/emails/blogs), and ask a few of the recipients to email you back a one-line summary of what they felt the most important thing you were trying to communicate was.
  • Show a bunch of people in your target audience your last few flyers; ask them to tell you in one-line what the key piece of information was.

Youth Work Hacks at the Premier Digital Awards

Wow – 15016408_1189056691181334_7533730845260800862_owhat a ride! Two weeks ago, Youth Work Hacks won the Premier Digital Award in the category of Most Inspiring Leadership Blog. This was an epic honour – especially in the midst of other fantastic finalists!

[[Check out the runner up, Apples of Gold, and the finalists, Included By Grace and Matt McChlery.]]

It was a belting night which included an impressive meal, a champagne reception, polished hosts and a simply incredible house band. I was blown away by the professionalism of the whole night. I can be very critical of how badly Christian organisations do at putting on events, but this blew me away.

I’m very grateful to the Premier Judges for choosing Youth Work Hacks – and we will do all we can here to produce resources and articles worthy of them.

You can see the video of the award presentation below … and our comics version of what that looked like at the bottom of this post.

ps. Sorry about the two week break from writing. After a the awards came a week in London, and a week at Seminary. But here we are again!

 

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Capturing God’s Heart For Young People

Capturing God’s Heart For Young People. A talk I gave at Antioch Church in Colwyn Bay, North Wales. This is a version of a relatively standard talk that I give regularly on young people across North Wales.

Two passages:

Luke 18:1-17

Acts 20:7-12

The Idol Of Religious Activity. Jeremiah 7:1-29

A dodgy recording of a talk I gave to the 14s-18s at Word Alive this year on turning to the Idol Of Religious Activity. Sorry about the quality.

Passage: Jeremiah 7:1-29

Idol of Religion *** Download for free here.

Talk: ‘Who Is The Greatest?’ Mark 9:33-37

Hi folks.

Here’s a wee talk I gave a few weeks ago on Mark 9 at Prince’s Drive Baptist Church. As always I hope it’s useful and I’m open to helpful, constructive, love-driven feedback. 🙂  Cheers!

http://pdbc.churchinsight.com/Media/Player.aspx?media_id=130703&file_id=141384

I’m Back!!!!!!

Hi Folks!

After 6 weeks conflict with iclickster (my hosting company) – timgough.co is finally back up and running!

In the last few weeks I’ve driven about 2500 miles around the UK for various things – including the Youthwork Summit, Transforming Youth Ministry and some YFC training days – so expect some write ups and reviews soon.

Quick update on me: I’m still directing Youth For Christ, Llandudno and we’ve just hired an administrator which is fab. I’ve been thinking about writing again, mainly focusing on some simple ebook topics like effective games, small group youth communities or young people apologetics. I may do something more practical on making first contact with schools, but we shall see where the whims may take us. I’m also trying some fun stuff out with my music, trying to bridge the gaps in my songwriting between jazz, funk and folk all with a healthy dose of melancholy.

My speaking schedule for the next wee while is pretty simple; this Sunday I’ll be at Princes Drive Baptist Church, 3rd August I’ll be at i61 and 4th-8th August I’ll be speaking in the evenings at Middleton Park.

If you’re interested in recent stuff from the last few weeks there’s two talks below:

God Fearers In The 1st Century @ Bible Unzipped, North Wales Bible Training Event:

http://pdbc.churchinsight.com/Media/Player.aspx?media_id=127611&file_id=

Young People Are Not The Church Of Tomorrow @ Penrallt Baptist Church, Bangor

Love as Revelation of God – Valentines Day Talk

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I was asked to give a talk around the ‘valentines day’ theme for a small baptist church in North Wales. Here’s the recording:

 

 

Valentines Day Talk

Slow Club, Mark Yaconelli

Mark is the son of my youth work hero, Mike Yaconelli, and in many ways he is just as epic. His passion is to bring interested adults into the lives of young people who know how to ‘be’ with God, ‘be’ with themselves and ‘be’ with teenagers.

This wee clip shares with us some encouragement to s l o w d o w n and see the gifts that God has laid out for us.