By Dave Arden

Public speaking is a form of art.

More than just letters leaping from your lips, the intricate forms of verbal expression energize and inspire others to do the unexpected.  From history, hyperbole, and humor to poetry, words uplift and establish others with security, beauty and even authority.

Words convey character with depth, style, rhythm, and flow.  Often words give us emotional connections to others.  The right words at the right time can provide comfort and peace.  Words can relax us to be Cool or Suave or propel us to be Powerful or Cantankerous, Zealous or Outrageous.

Consider the beauty and simplicity of uttering one’s final words, maybe to family or to friends or on one’s final resting ground in an epitaph. Final words can utter encouragement or underscore calamity.

Mark Antony turned the tables on the conspirators of Julius Caesar at Caesar’s funeral by reminding the public what great passion he had for the people of Rome.  Also, Antony read Ceasar’s will providing 300 sesterces to every Roman citizen. That didn’t hurt!

William Shakespeare immortalized the speech by adding phrases such as “Friends, Romans, Countryman,” and highlighting hyperbole by underscoring how Brutus was such an “honorable man.”  Shakespeare’s addition of the phrase, “Et tu Brute,” of Ceaser upon seeing his young son Brutus commit murder has also turned into art.

Creative Expression from the Bible

King David’s writings and poetic Psalms (both spoken and sung) display a unique artistic rhythm.  Consider how Psalm 139 reveals a deep intimacy between the king and the King of Kings.

You have searched me, Lord, and you know me.
 You know when I sit and when I rise;
    you perceive my thoughts from afar.
You discern my going out and my lying down;
    you are familiar with all my ways. Psalm 139:1-3

The apostle Paul is artful in the “love chapter” on the virtue of patience and kindness in love. He finishes with…  “Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, and endures all things. Love never fails…”  (1 Corinthians 13:7, 8a)

When speaking in Athens to the philosophers in Acts 17:28, Paul quotes a couple poets and philosophers talking about the “unknown God”…

for “‘In him we live and move and have our being’; as even some of your own poets have said, “‘For we are indeed his offspring.’ Acts 17:28

A couple of Jesus last sayings are emblazed in the soul as timeless.

            “Today you will be with me in Paradise,”(Luke 23:43) Jesus spoke to the thief. The word “Paradise” here describes a green, and lush, and forested park like area.

My God, my God, why have you forsaken me,” (Matthew 27:46) comes straight from Psalm 22, expressing both a deep pain but also a steadfast hope.

There’s even an artistry in the architecture of Jesus parable of the wise man building a home–

“Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock.” Matthew 7:24

Practical Ways to Speak Creatively

Are you needing to unleash your “inner artist” and bring more creativity to the table when you speak, lead or teach?  Here are some ideas to help you connect with your audience.

First, don’t look at your main idea as just a way to get information across.  Massage the message to FLOW with ways to connect to the heart.  That is, what stories, history, poetry, humor, and people can help you paint the picture in such a way as to enhance the senses and increase the emotional impact?

Working on your “emotional vocabulary” of words to express authentic feeling will allow you to connect with a wider range of people.

Second, start listening to how other speakers tell captivating stories and draw in the listener.  Provide more of your own personal stories and testimonies to your topics and highlight the moments with descriptive wording to make them more vivid.

Instead of using general words like “tree” or “grass” or “ship” or “car” good story telling using more specific words like “Redwood” or “Bermuda” or “schooner” or a “Chevrolet.”

Third, the goal in speaking for the Lord, isn’t just to be artistic for the sake of better art.  Have fun with it, but also understand that the weight of our words either draws people either closer to Jesus or pushes them away from Jesus.

Words can be majestic or miserable, operatic or obnoxious.

So many times in the past, I brought more crassness to speaking than I want to admit, but how great is the grace of Jesus to guide me to grow in grace in this area.  Where we fall short, we really need the Holy Spirit to align the message so that when the fog of challenging preparation lifts, others see Jesus clearly when we speak.

When public speech endures as art form, as in Jesus example– the words endure longer and more deeply in the heart and in the soul of humanity.  More than just filing some void of space, the words soak into us and become part of our identity.