A common conversation I find myself having with many of the men in our church testing their preaching gifts is the issue of projection in preaching. Different men with different gifts have varying levels of intensity when preaching. Intensity is not to what I am referring. Whether you are a loud, passionate, energetic preacher or a thoughtful, warm, conversational one, vocal projection is necessary in every case. Here are 3 reasons why…
1) Volume. Some preachers think there is not a need to project if they are adequately amplified with a microphone. In fact, some hear their voice artificially amplified and will even project less, thinking they need to compensate. The fact is a sound system can only do so much in bringing a preacher’s voice to proper amplification. Projection is that necessary tool to find that balanced level.
2) Clarity. When I mention projecting to many of our men new to preaching, they think it is strictly a volume matter, but it is just as much a matter of clarity in what is being said. The most common example is when a preacher is speaking and his projection trails off at the last phrase, which affects both clarity and volume. I remind young preachers if my 39-year-old ears cannot hear or understand what you just said in the last half of your final sentence, you can be certain the 85-year-old widow with hearing aids did not either.
3) Tempo. This is referring to the speed in which a preacher speaks. In the same way a mumbler has trouble with clarity, a fast talker muddies the words together and makes it hard to understand. Proper projection can help create a solid rhythm and tempo of speech that can make a preacher who is prone to fast talking slow down.
A few practical suggestions to develop healthy projection:
- Go in the room where you typically preach, have someone sit in the back of the room while you practice your sermon or read a long passage of Scripture without any microphone or sound amplification. If they can hear and understand what you are articulating, you probably have found a good balance of projection for your unique voice.
- The next opportunity you have to preach, have the sermon recorded and listen to your sermon at a normal audio level. If at any point you cannot hear what you said or understand what was said, then odds are your congregation did not either. Make a note of those times where you mumbled or trailed off in speech and could not clearly hear what was said and you will probably find a pattern that can be worked on for the next time you preach.
We have all heard the stories of men like Spurgeon who preached to over 10,000 people in massive buildings without any amplification, or Whitefield preaching in the open air to thousands. Although many testify of the depth and power of the natural voices of these great preachers of old, those preaching venues are still impossible to pull off without one thing... projection. Consider how well you project when you preach. It can make a huge difference in not just how you communicate, but the vocal clarity and understandability of what you communicate.
Brian Croft is Senior Pastor of Auburndale Baptist Church. To find out more, please visit Practical Shepherding.