Not long ago I attended a presentation by Dan Heath, co-author of The Power of Moments.
At the very least, I knew it’d be worthwhile. It turned out to be unforgettable.
The business world had snapped up Dan and his brother Chip’s new book because it was packed with practical strategies to maximize the impact of experiences. The Heaths call them “Moments,” and it’s something Thom and I have “preached” about for decades.
There’s tangible power in moments. You can tell instantly if you’re reaching others, and the signs are the same whether you’re teaching kids, teenagers, or adults. People literally lean in, soaking up every word. They watch you closely. You can sense an electricity in the air—an energy connecting you and the learners.
These are the kinds of moments in which you’re no longer teaching, you’re reaching—reaching hearts…reaching minds…and reaching souls.
During Dan’s presentation, he asked people in the audience to turn to someone near them and answer a question. Smack dab in the middle of his talk, on two different occasions, he took the attention off of himself and gave it back to the audience. His one-way lecture blossomed into a dynamic, memorable engagement. It was simple, it was free, and it was likely the most indelible moment for everyone in the room.
Why? Because Dan knew his job was to reach, not just teach.
It’s the same “secret” strategy that Thom and I have been using for years, and it doesn’t cost a dime: Have people in your audience pair up with another person to talk about what you’re teaching. It can multiply your impact tenfold, and it’s the
way to increase any teacher/leader/preacher’s effectiveness. This little gem works with any class, sermon, presentation, and age group.
When people engage with a question by talking about it, what they discover sticks longer. They learn more, and they make their own personal connections to your information. They grapple more deeply. And by sharing it out loud with someone else, they’ll remember it for years to come.
For example, let’s say you’re teaching about Jesus feeling abandoned on the cross. Pause and ask everyone to find a partner. Ask them to talk about the question, “When was a time you’ve felt abandoned?” Next thing you know, the room will be filled with lively, fully engaged conversations about your message. Rather than a room of blank stares, now people are actively involved in your words. People might remember a tiny bit of what you said during your presentation/lesson/sermon, but they’ll most certainly remember the “Moments” of sharing their intimate stories with new friends.
Your job has never been merely to teach or pass along information; it’s to reach people with the good news that Jesus loves them and wants to be their friend. Your calling is to spark and nurture their friendship, both with Jesus and each other.
If you want to reach others, give them the chance to talk. To think, process, and draw conclusions in real time.
And that means everyone gets to talk, not just a select few. Give it a try during your next presentation and let me know how it goes!
In future blogs I’ll be sharing more tried-and-true tips that get everyone, any age, engaged. And watch for our newest book Don’t Just Teach…Reach! that reveals our not-so-secret sauce. Next thing you know, you’ll be teaching just like Jesus.