LECTURE 20 ON SERMON PREPARATION The Voice in Delivery

I knew many engineering students in college. They were required to take a course in public speaking, and, having worked with many engineers through my years in the ministry, I can say they did need it. I had to take a course in public speaking in Seminary, and that was helpful. Some colleges require all their students to take such a course. In it you learn a lot about pitch and modulation, intonation and pronunciation. Broadus talks about the range of pitch and that is something many people do not consider. It must change. Most people when forcing their voices tend to raise the pitch. If you do this for a full sermon it is not pleasant.

Chapell mentions melody as a quality of sweetness and flexibility. These are important, but volume and penetrating power are critical. In 1962 I preached at a fire station in Newtown Square, Pennsylvania. The elder in charge instructed me that if the siren went off while the service was in progress, I was to stop and wait until it was done. After the service he came to me and said, “You are the first man we have had in the pulpit that I think could have preached right through the siren.” Some of us are naturally gifted with louder voices, but it is also true that mine has been trained through music from my early years. Practice will definitely help. In listing efforts to improve our authors list singing. Now it is my experience that diaphragmatic control is the most important element. When I was a young lad I had a vocal teacher who constantly pressed on my abdomen. I did not get it. Then in a church in California when I was attending Fuller Seminary, I was in the choir with a guy who was a night club singer and he taught me to puff in my car. Go figure. He said while you are driving exhale forcibly from your abdomen. Speak from your stomach friends.

And then there is distinct pronunciation. Be very precise. My wife is hard of hearing. She wears two hearing aids. Distinct articulation is absolutely necessary to her hearing what I say. Modulate your voice. But never let it drop at the end of a sentence. Learn to breathe so that, if you were a singer, you would be able to finish the line. And always vary your speed, your pitch, and your force with respect to your subject matter.