Duffy Robbins is a youth ministry legend, who co-wrote (with Doug Fields) the fantastic Speaking to Teenagers: How to Think About, Create, and Deliver Effective Messages, here’s some notes from a recent seminar:

1. When not gesturing, park your hands some place that isn’t distracting (your pockets, the sides of your chair, or the edges of the podium).

2. Keep your gestures high up on your body frame. You don’t want the audience to have to choose between looking at you (your eyes and your face) or looking at your gesture. I usually stage my gestures about six to eight inches in front of my chin. To look at my gestures, you have to look at my face.

3. Match the breadth of your gestures to the size of your audience. A larger audience might mean more exaggerated gestures; a smaller audience allows for conversational gestures.

4. Time the gesture so that it best serves your point. Pounding the pulpit 10 seconds after the preacher has made his point leaves the audience either confused about the preacher’s intent or concerned about his reflexes. Neither response enhances the message.

5. Give your gestures a firm end point. Imagine that a gesture leaves a mark in the air (e.g., a vapor trail). There should be an obvious beginning point and an obvious end point. That helps define the gesture, and it aids the audience in interpreting its meaning.

6. Don’t overlook the power of stance. Pulling your chair closer to the circle, moving closer to the group, stepping over to one side near that kid who is detonating his underwear, even the way the feet are positioned if you’re standing: all of these help to communicate focus, boldness, intensity, importance.

Be attentive to how your whole body communicates. Let them hear your body talk.

Married to the amazing Sarah and raising Jakey, Daniel, Amelia, Josh & Jonah in our blended family. Passionate for Jesus, social work & sport.

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