Jason Yost says public speaking doesn’t always come naturally for anyone, let alone musicians:
One of the things that has the potential to make or break a worship experience is your verbals from the stage. If utilized correctly your verbals can enhance the experience. However, if you do not utilize them correctly they can cause your worship experience to take a sharp right turn into a brick wall.
Public speaking doesn’t always come naturally for anyone, let alone musicians. It’s definitely worth taking some time to invest and train yourself so you can facilitate the best possible worship experience. Below is a nifty little acronym that I formulated to help you perfect your verbals from stage.
The first step is the word itself, TONE. It is very important to be cognizant of your tone while you are speaking from stage. You want to soften your voice to make it easy on the ears with more of a welcoming tone. You do this already when you talk on the phone to someone you do not know or when you meet someone for the first time. You change your tone to sound more welcoming and inviting. It’s the same while leading worship. You want to speak in a way that draws people in and doesn’t push them away. Make sure it sounds genuine as well and not fake. Give it a go with your friend and change your tones as you speak to find the best welcoming and inviting sound that you have.
Your goal as a worship leader is to use truth to affirm God and your congregation. The best way to do that is to verbalize scripture. You only have a few moments to lead them to get their minds set on Christ. There is no better tool to use than a double edged sword that pierces through any distraction, the Word of God. Go over your song lyrics in preparation for the weekend and find two to three scriptures that exemplify them. Use these scriptures in your prayers and verbals to encourage your people. There is no better source of truth and encouragement.
Open Your Mouth
You have no problem opening your mouth when you are confident in what you are about to say. It’s when you are not so confident that you tend to not speak and enunciate properly. Practice your verbals ahead of time. Go back to the basics. Open your mouth wide and speak with confidence so that the congregation can hear and retain what you are saying. Consider rehearsing them in front of a mirror so you can evaluate yourself.
In my years of experiences speaking to large crowds I have always found it best to never speak in the negative. It is way more efficient to use positive reinforcement to lead a large group of people in the same direction. For instance, if you feel like the congregation is not singing, do not say something like, “Come on church! If you love God, you would sing with me!”, or “Why aren’t you singing today?”. Rather you should inject verbals like, “Let’s lift our voice together”, “sing this with me”, or “that’s right, you got it, let’s give it our all”. You only have a specific amount of time to lead them so it’s best to focus on the positive and not the negative. Continually give them opportunity to sing and engage with positive reinforcement and encouragement.
I can’t stress this enough. You only have a certain amount of time to lead your people in worship with the living God. It would be advantageous of you to make sure you are organized and prepared during that time so you can be the best steward of your people’s time possible. Remember, excellence is reverence. To help with this, consider scripting out your verbals ahead of time. This can help with time and content management to ensure you share your best content in the exact amount of time you have. You can also rehearse your verbals during your actual band rehearsal. If you feel comfortable, get some feedback from your band to make sure you’re on point.
As I mentioned, your verbals can be just as important as the music you play and the lyrics you sing. It’s of upmost importance to you as a worship leader and worth your investment. The great thing is, like most things we learn, the more you practice, the more natural it becomes.