How to Create Valuable Content for Your Audience
Welcome to all our new subscribers! We’re going to dive straight into a question from one of our readers that concerns all of us as both speakers and writers. How do we develop valuable content that our audiences deserve? Here’s the question that sparked this discussion:
I have to speak in a couple of months for 45 minutes and I’m afraid I won’t be able to make the message long enough. ~Leigh Ellen
I have to confess that I giggled a little at this question. As a girl with the gift of gab, I usually have the opposite problem. I have to trim and trim to get my messages to fit within the time.
When I really considered the question, though, I realized that Leigh Ellen and I (and every other speaker in the world!) have the same dilemma. The question is really, “How can I be sure that I’m filling the time I’ve been given with valuable content?” I can talk and talk and talk but not give my audience something of value. That might be even worse than only using 10 minutes to teach if I’ve been given an hour.
Creating valuable content is hard work, and the key is giving your message development time. Jennifer Rothschild says, “Let’s create crock-pot messages instead of micro-wave messages.”
I love that quote, and we get the point. Let’s develop messages containing rich content with enough simmer-time to allow God to reveal Himself in them. How can we do that?
Collect Information Ahead of Time
- Start files– Once you know your ministry niche, you should start to collect articles, stories, quotes or any other information that you can on the topics where your passion is focused. When it’s time to write a message on that topic, you’ll already have accumulated message material.
- Start a notebook— When ideas, impressions and personal stories to be used later. If we don’t write them down, they’ll be gone!
- Study and dig deep into scripture— The Bible is our best and richest resource. I usually study in 2 phases
- Personal study and note-taking
- Reading commentaries, doing word studies, and searching the internet for material
Address Different Learning Styles
If you’ve been reading this blog for awhile, you know I’m a huge fan of the sticky statement, so it may seem really hard to put together enough content focused on one point. Even though there’s only one main point, you can flesh out your messages with lots of different material on that one topic including stories, statistics, visuals, scriptural teaching, demonstrations, music, video, dramatic elements, etc. Try to think about all the different people and learning styles in the audience. Think about ways to make your point for people who learn through sight, sound, touch, or application.
Answer a Key Question
Finally, one of the other questions I ask myself as I’m creating content is, How would I explain my key point to a friend who is unchurched? That question has been key in developing my speaking for two reasons. First, I want to be as clear to the women off the street as to the women in the pews. We live in an increasingly unchurched world, so let’s not miss the chance to communicate clearly to the women invited to an event by a faithful neighbor, family member or friend.
The other job that question does is to jolt my church-girl brain out of church-y talk into fresher ways of saying scriptural truths. Saying it the same old way is most often boring and trite anyway, so let’s challenge ourselves to make our audiences sit up and pay attention by saying timeless Truths in ways that make our brains remember.
By the time we add content we’ve collected, included rich teaching, and tried to reach audience members with different learning styles as well as the unchurched, we’ll probably be back to trimming our content to fit the time. At this point, our “crock pot message” will be filling and nourishing for our audience!
How about you? What are some ways that you make your messages “plump” with valuable content?
Great advice. I do use a notebook and/or file for materials I run across as I’m allowing my message to simmer in my heart and mind (a la crockpot!). I find that very helpful.
One tip I recently received from my mentor – a seasoned speaker – is to create messages that stay at the intersection of my experience and expertise and my audience’s need. I can’t address all of their need. And I don’t need to give them all of my experience or expertise. I just need to keep all of my message at that one point of intersection. That’s the sweet spot. I find this really helps me to focus my message and hone in on those one, two or three things of value that I have to offer them. And it helps my audience remember my message and what to do with it.
I totally agree with your mentor’s advice, and I’ve heard the same word picture applied to finding our ministry niche. I’m with you that it’s essential to know our sweet spot!