Connectors Create Joyful Experiences

The Word of God is never boring; I believe it is a sin to bore a student. Boring is the one phrase that would accurately describe someone who is not connection to others. We need to develop a system of collecting quotes, stories and illustrations that add to the topic. Here are a few tips on how to be interesting:

Take Responsibility for Your Students: In the long run, there are never any bad audiences, only bad teachers or speakers. If the students are asleep, something needs to happen to wake them up. Grabbing attention is the responsibility of the teacher, not your students. You will likely quote the proverb that you can lead a horse to water but you can’t make him drink; but think about ways you can make that horse thirsty. You need to work to keep your students engaged in what’s happening. We can never have a take-it-or-leave-it mindset. That is what John Maxwell calls “cemetery communication,” lots of people out there but nobody’s listening. Our job is to create interest, activate the audience, enjoy the experience and add value to others.

  1. Charisma is what causes your students to want to hear more. Think about a conference you attended, the time goes by so quickly, interest is captivated, and you really enjoyed being there.
  2. Charisma is something you can develop; it is not a natural talent that draws people toward someone. Always ask yourself how you might better draw in your students.

Communicate in Their World: Maxwell tells a story of a traditional father balking at changing a diaper; he did not know how. Then the mom said, “Lay out the diaper in a diamond shape, put second on home plate, but the baby’s bottom on the pitcher’s mound, hook up first and third, slide home underneath. If it starts to rain, the game is not called, you start all over again.”

There are always important things in life, but people do not remember what we think is important, they remember what they think is important. There are a lot of voices out there calling for the attention of your students. If you want to make an impact, you must meet them in their world. To connect in their world, you have to link what you want to say to what other’s needs are.

This is good: if you talk at me, you’ll talk alone; if you talk to me, I’ll listen; if you talk about me, I’ll listen for hours. Always maintain authenticity when you try to meet them in their world.

Capture People’s Attention from the Start: If you don’t capture their attention from the start, they will take the remote and click you off. Always make a good first impression; you will never get a second chance to make a first impression. Here are a few ideas:

  1. Comments: about today and some current non-controversial event.
  2. Introduce yourself: if there are guests, they don’t know you and you will never connect with them.
  3. Use humor: it brings people in, but don’t make the humor a lame joke. Try it out on the kids first, unless you’re looking for a groaner.
  4. Create a sense of anticipation: you’re about to add value to their life, get excited and hopeful, they are about to learn something, ask them to tell what they learn to another person.
  5. Activate your students: It is easy to connect with someone who is highly energized and active. Are they taking notes, reading their Bible, searching for another Scripture, making eye contact, nodding in agreement?
  6. Ask questions: Don’t get too specific but ask ones where 90 percent of the students should be able to answer.
  7. Get people moving: Break the routine and get them to stretch, move around or get into smaller groups.
  8. Ask people to interact: When students become involved, it increases their energy.

Say it So it Sticks: Some quotes are remembered long after they are spoken.

  1. Give me liberty or give me death – Patrick Henry.
  2. I regret that I have but one life to give for my country – Nathan Hale.
  3. A government of the people, by the people and for the people – Abraham Lincoln.
  4. Never, never, never give up – Winston Churchill.
  5. Ask not what your country can do for you. Ask what you can do for your country – John F. Kennedy.
  6. I have a dream – Martin Luther King Jr.
  7. Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall – Ronald Reagan.

Link what you say to what people need: Nothing makes a lesson more memorable than need.

Find ways to be original: There is a direct impact on predictability and impact. The more predicable they think you are, the less impact you will have on them.

  1. Use Humor: possess the ability to laugh at yourself, and let people know that you are as human as the next guy.
  2. Say Things in an Interesting Way: A catch phrase said creatively can catch on and make a connection
    1. A person must sacrifice to get to the top, or you have to give up to go up.
    2. Relationships are important to influence people, or people won’t go along with you until they can get along with you.
    3. People won’t listen until they know you care, or people don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.
  3. Learn to Pause: Connecting is a two-way street; a dialogue, not a monologue. Allow people time to respond and give feedback. When you are a non-stop speaker, people’s minds disengage.
  4. Be Visual: We are a part of the MTV generation, with YouTube, movies and camera phones. Add spice to your presentation by finding a video clip, magazine article or newspaper clipping that makes your point.
  5. Tell Stories: Nothing is better than a story to keep people engaged. Cold facts will rarely connect with people. People connect with stories, not statistics. Jesus was the master communicator; and he use stories to make his point. Scientists say that our brains are wired more for stories than for abstract ideas and PowerPoint slides.

Connecting Practice: Connectors create an experience everyone enjoys.
Key Concept: Work to create the right experience for your communication setting.

Practical Steps:

  1. Strive to create a sense of intimacy with your students.
  2. Help your group to have a sense of shared accomplishment where they feel connected to you and the group.
  3. Try these principles in telling your stories:
    1. Enthusiasm: storytellers enjoy what they are doing.
    2. Animation: lively facial expressions and gestures.
    3. Group participation: involve your audience in some way; sing, clap, repeat phrases, do sign language.
    4. Spontaneity: while stories are memorized, storytellers respond freely to the listeners.
    5. No notes: storytellers employed a truly oral event; they told stories, they didn’t read them.
    6. Humor: humor can be included even in serious or sad stories.
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