You probably have a few rules about how you prepare to present yourself to the outside world. Some of us won’t leave the house without a shower while others raise the bar to lipstick and earrings as the bare minimum for being “presentable”. (Southern girls, you know your mama told you not to go out without your earrings.)
If a friend asks us to run out for coffee spur of the moment, most of us would exclaim, “Just give me a minute to freshen up, and I’ll be right there!”
When we’re speaking, our messages need cyclical reviving too. Do you feel that your old messages need some freshening up? Maybe it’s time to take a tried-and-true but tired message and give it some fresh life before you present it to the world again. Although messages occasionally need a major overhaul, it’s often just a matter of making minor tweaks. Refreshing not only benefits our audience, but it also re-ignites our passion for delivering them.
Here are a few ways to give old messages new life.
Polish Up Your Sticky Statement
Powerful messages are focused on a single, transforming truth because one truth at a time is what people can grasp in order to create life-change. A sticky statement is a concise, memorable sentence that expresses our one truth.
When you look at a message that needs to be revived, ask yourself this question: “What’s the one sentence I want my audience to remember when they forget all the others?” That’s your sticky statement. You can have multiple points that back up that sentence, but there should only be one truth. This creates “sticky” messages—messages that stick with people long enough to change their lives.
If you don’t have a sticky statement, you can add one to your message. Once you’ve identified it, make sure that any of the parts of your message that don’t relate to your sticky statement are removed. Your message will instantly become more focused.
If you already have a sticky statement, double-check it. Is it really sticky? I often rewrite my one truth multiple times before I feel it hits the bar of being memorable.
Here are some great examples of sticky statements:
- “Let God chisel.” ~Lysa TerKeurst
- “It’s like a thousand songs in your pocket.” ~Steve Jobs as he unveiled the iPod to a crowd of stockholders, reporters, and influencers.
A sticky statement is the key to making your message laser-like. Adding or editing a sticky statement lays the foundation for a message that’s focused and memorable.
Check Your Balance
Great messages have four major elements:
- Information– Anything factual in your message would be information. This can include many things including statistics, outside studies, an explanation of the problem embedded in your topic, and information from experts.
- Inspiration– Stories and quotes are elements that provide inspiration. Any part of your message that motivates or supplies “want-to” to your audience can be counted as inspiration.
- Revelation– Teaching from scripture is the revelation part of your message.
- Transformation– Application points, challenges, and practical steps toward change are included in your transformation portions.
To refresh your messages, do this inventory exercise suggested by my friend, Karen Ehman. Choose a different color highlighter for each of the four elements. For example, go through your message and highlight all the information with yellow. Then follow and highlight the inspiration with pink, etc.
When you’re finished highlighting each element, ask yourself:
- Do I have all four elements represented in my message?
- How is the balance? This isn’t completely straight-forward because you don’t have to have an equal balance. In fact, different settings and styles of speaking need varying weights of emphasis. If you’re teaching a Bible study class, it’s still advisable to have all four elements, but the revelation is going to be heavier. If you’re speaking at a fund-raiser, the inspiration will have the most weight.
- What element(s) do I need to add or strengthen?
Once you have a sticky statement and all four elements of a compelling message, you’re well on your way to refreshing your message!
Update Your Stories
Stories bring theory to life, connect emotionally with our audiences and make messages memorable.
There are two kinds of stories you can use in your messages:
- Somebody else’s stories–Watch for current news stories or unique stories from reading or the internet to use. These are stories in which our culture engages, so they’re stories that connect with our audiences. Make sure to give credit where credit’s due, but it’s ok to retell great stories.
- Your own stories– It’s important for speakers to become students of our own lives. We need to constantly watch for updated stories of God’s hand for use in our messages.
I often change out old stories for new ones and insert current events. Not only do these fresh tales connect with our audiences, but I’m also more excited to recount events that are top-of-mind.
By polishing up your sticky statement, checking your balance and updating your stories, worn out messages can become new again. Let us know how these tips work for you!
Amy Carroll is a speaker and writer for Proverbs 31 Ministries. She’s author of Breaking Up with Perfect and speaker coach at Next Step Coaching Services. You can always find her trying to figure out one more alternative to cooking dinner.