August 29, 2013
"Audiences don't always hear so good, but they see real well."
In college I was singing with the University of Denver Chorale when I first heard this. We were backing up the Denver Symphony in a performance of Verdi's Requiem. During one rehearsal Brian Priestman, the music director, was talking to those of us in the chorus about when we should sit and stand at different points in the piece. We even rehearsed our movements. Priestman said they were an important part of the total experience; how we moved could add drama or emphasis to the end or beginning of a section. "You see," he explained with a wry smile, "audiences don't always hear so good, but they see real well."Continue reading "Clinching the Content"
Posted by Andy Le Peau at 11:15 AM
February 28, 2012
I call them preacher stories--those tales that pass from church to church, book to book, blog to blog. Sometimes corny, sometimes profound, they can inspire, accuse, challenge, amuse, surprise or inform.
I recently came across the same story three times, and it made me wonder.Continue reading "Pastor Beware (and Writer Too)"
October 13, 2011
Authors and editors know too much. And that goes for speakers, teachers and preachers too. They know too much about the subjects they are presenting. Why is that a bad thing? It's what Chip and Dan Heath, in Made to Stick, call the Curse of Knowledge.Continue reading "The Curse of Knowledge"
April 19, 2011
Even if you have the most profound truths, you can still be profoundly boring. I was once on the pastoral search committee for our church and heard a sermon from a prospective candidate who delivered fourteen points. Yes, count ‘em, fourteen points! There has to be a better way, and there is.Continue reading "Dramatic Non-Fiction"
February 8, 2011
Do you know how important artichokes are? A Google search generated over 9.8 million hits! Astonishing. But that is nothing compared to crochet, which gives over 20.3 million results. So if you are going to crochet an artichoke, well, you are clearly in the forefront of a massive cultural phenomenon!Continue reading "Please Don't Use Google!"
Posted by Andy Le Peau at 7:34 AM
January 20, 2011
On January 20, 1961, John Kennedy gave what some consider to be the greatest presidential inaugural speech of the twentieth century. What made it so effective rhetorically? Max Atkinson identifies several key techniques:Continue reading "JFK's Speech: Still a Model Fifty Years Later"
Posted by Andy Le Peau at 7:46 AM
September 29, 2010
It’s one of the most common and one of the dullest tools that writers or speakers pull out of their toolboxes—quoting a dictionary definition when trying to make a point. It happens every day whether it’s a blogger, a teacher, a preacher or a speaker. Webster gets quoted to define some painfully ordinary word like professional or accidental or addiction. Why is this such a problem?Continue reading "Please Don't Use the Dictionary!"
July 22, 2010
Anxiety dreams are common. It's the day of finals and you can't find the classroom--in fact, you have neglected to attend class all semester. Or it's the big game and the coach sends you in as the point guard--only you are short and a really bad basketball player who hasn't practiced with the team all season. Or you are suddenly called on to give a speech with a few only a minutes' notice.
Except that the last one wasn't a dream for me. It really happened once.Continue reading "Speaking of Nightmares"
February 17, 2009
I was at a conference last week with many excellent, well-known speakers. They made presentations at plenary sessions of over a thousand and at seminars with fifty to hundred people. Regardless of the notoriety, prestige or quality of the speaker, or the intimacy of the group, those who attended felt free to walk in and out of the sessions at will--perhaps several times in a session for a single individual.
This is not a new, of course. I've noticed it for some time in a wide variety of settings. Thirty years ago, however, it was not so.Continue reading "Walking Out on the Speaker"
December 2, 2008
I once emceed at a conference and was responsible for handling the question and answer session after a major talk. There were about three hundred in attendance and dozens wanted to ask questions, but we only had fifteen minutes available in the schedule. I had the roving mike and raced around the room trying to get as many questions as possible but only managed about five.Continue reading "Giving Voice"
October 13, 2008
Fame is a difficult burden to bear. I know.
Several times I've been asked to be interviewed for videos InterVarsity Press has done to highlight new books. Most recently, I have a starring role for the piece on John Stott's fiftieth anniversary edition of Basic Christianity.
It had over 250 views on youtube.com in its first month, until I told my extended family about it and it rocketed up to over 260. So you can see the kind of load I am under.
By comparison JibJab's "Time for Some Campaignin'" has over 1,250,000 views in two months. Now you know why the paparazzi are after me the way they are.
After we showed the Stott video at an all-office meeting, exactly zero people came up to me and told me what a great job I did. And zero told me I had room for improvement. How am I to cope with such an overwhelming response?
I also make a cameo appearance in the video Heart. Soul. Mind. Strength. That one isn't even on youtube. A good thing too! Who knows what invasions of privacy I might suffer if it were!
Fame, however, is fleeting. I am prepared to deal with that too.
March 10, 2008
OK. Show of hands: How many of you have witnessed a bad Powerpoint presentation? Let's see, looks like it's just about everyone out there who is vertical and above ground.Continue reading "How Not to Use Powerpoint"
February 21, 2008
We publish a lot of Bible reference books for average people, students, scholars and pastors. As a consumer of Bible reference books, I find that I most often make use of them when I have to give a talk or a sermon. (Now that's a felt need!) Apparently pastors feel the same way.Continue reading "The Bible Is Serious about Humor"
January 31, 2008
Remember the running gag in Finding Nemo when Marlin the clown fish (whom others keep thinking will be funny) painfully tries to tell a joke? "Okay, a mollusk walks up to this sea cucumber, well he doesn't actually walk, he's just there, and he turns to the sea cucumber, and. . . Well, wait, there's a mollusk and a sea cucumber and . . . Normally, they don't talk, sea cucumbers, but in a joke everyone talks. So the sea mollusk says to the cucumber. . ."Continue reading "Humor Is Serious Business"
January 24, 2008
Bob Harvey, my former pastor, told the congregation in a sermon about the time he was on vacation at a lake, sitting in a giant inner tube when suddenly and unexpectedly he lost his balance and found himself upside down in the water, still stuck in the tube. As a man with a few extra pounds on his frame, he was unable to get out and right himself. While he was underwater trying to figure out what to do, he told us, he thought, You know, this will make a good sermon illustration.Continue reading "Stories Are the Point"
Posted by Andy Le Peau at 8:15 AM
January 16, 2008
Once I was invited to be part of a panel discussion during a conference. The panel went well, and I was ready to go back to the office to finish up some work I had there. As the moderator of the conference closed the panel he said to the group. “We’ll take a fifteen minute break now, and then for the next hour Andy Le Peau will be speaking to us.”
My worst speaking nightmare had come true.Continue reading "Public Speaking Isn't Life or Death--It's Much Worse Than That"