(This is a guest post by Jeff Tatarchuck. For complete author info and to see the videos, view from Modern Ekklesia)
I love watching a good TED talk. They are inspiring, informative, challenging and most importantly, short. Short works perfectly in our easily distracted society. 18 minutes or less is the strict stipulation given to every speaker without exception.
The curator of TED, Chris Anderson, explains in an interview that a presentation that is 18 minutes or less makes it long enough for people to take the idea being shared seriously and short enough that it will hold their attention. It also forces the speaker, who might be used to speaking over 45 minutes, to boil down the essential information in their presentation and focus on a main idea. This allows for their message to be simplified, so a broader audience can digest the content. Then, because the topic is short and simple enough for people to listen and digest the information, it makes it much easier for the audience to take action, which is to share the information with others. Distilling the message down in this way make it a perfect vehicle to fulfill TED’s mission: “Ideas Worth Spreading.”
These same elements can be applied to communicating the greatest idea on the planet: the Gospel. Short. Simple. Shareable.
1. Short – It has been said, “The mind won’t retain what the seat can’t endure”. After making the mistake of thinking that the longer I speak the more I will be able to communicate to my audience, I realized this is not the case. In fact, I find it has the opposite effect. I find that the longer I speak the more the average audience tends to forget. Shorter is better!
2. Simple – Simple doesn’t mean easy. Albert Einstein once said, “Any fool can complicate things; it takes a genius to simplify them”. It is no easy task to truly simplify an idea so that it could be clearly and easily understood. I have found that the more I study and wrestle with a topic the simpler it becomes. But this can take months or even years! It takes research and time to allow the idea to marinate. Find your main point and stick to it. Then, make that idea as simple as possible. Before preaching your next sermon, try to explain your main idea to a child to see if they can grasp it and if they get it, preach it!
3. Shareable – The main hope of God is that the gospel will go viral, even to the ends of YouTube and the earth. But how will it spread if we don’t package it in a way that can be easily communicated from one person to the next? TED has intentionally made the presentations shorter and simpler so that it can be easily shared via YouTube and viewed during a coffee break so more people can continue to share ideas. Our message needs to be easily accessible to as many people as possible. What better tool is there available than the internet? Use it!
The next time you sit down to write a sermon remember, SHORT + SIMPLE = SHAREABLE. This easy to follow equation will help you be more effective at spreading the best idea ever.
So what about you? What do you think about this framework of 18 minutes to make the message shareable? To leave a comment click here.
[image by TED Conference]
By the way, below are links to my current all-time favorite TED Talks:
(Can’t see the videos? Click here to view them on the site)
1: Got A Meeting, Take a Walk
3. Malcolm Gladwell: Choice, Happiness and Spaghetti Sauce