Remember those infomercials about “MEGA-MEMORY?” Kevin Trudeau wrote spoke about learning some techniques to strengthen one’s memory. After seeing the thing for years, I finally purchased the system off of ebay for a big reduction in cost.
After working through the system, I realized that while Trudeau’s claims were extravagant at times, his system did actually work to improve your memory. I then researched and saw that these memory techniques were used by the ancients to memorize even long speeches. In addition, I saw that the techniques that Trudeau spoke of in cheap book form by other authors. One that I particularly like is by Tony Buzan. In the next couple of weeks we will look at these memory techniques specifically applying them to preaching in general and preaching without notes in particular.
You might want to purchase a memory book like Use Your Perfect Memory or even the book form of Kevin Trudeu’s system that introduced me to memory techniques.
Richard S. Storrs second lecture in the book entitled Preaching Without Notes: A Series of Lectures describes some specific conditions for success in preaching without notes. These are as follows:
In Storr’s method, the preacher must memorize and have mastered the basic structure of the sermon. However the illustrations and examples that the preacher uses should not be totally planned out before the sermon is presented. The preacher should have many stories and ideas to illustrate the sermon and then allow the moment to bring whatever of these illustrations that one would present.
Richard S. Storrs wrote a book entitled Preaching Without Notes: A Series of Lectures. The book is made up of three lectures on this subject. Storrs presents some general suggestions in the first lecture.
The Exiled Preacher has a post up on George Whitefield and Expository Preaching. Guy Davis, the author, writes about how difficult it can be to use a manuscript effectively. Certainly many of us have left our manuscript for a second to “riff” on a theme or go down a different direction. However upon attempting to come back to our manuscript we find it difficult to find the correct place. Because of this, Davis has spent the vast majority of his career as a preacher without using notes.
Davis notes that an extemporaneous sermon requires at least as much preparation as one that is read. The preacher must make sure that the sermon is structured well. Davis notes that this structure should be both “clear and straightforward.”
The preacher does not attempt to memorize the whole sermon. There are methods that seek to do that, but I think that the most effective ones memorize some sort of outline. For example Joseph Webb, in Preaching Without Notes presents an inductive outline that is held together by a controlling metaphor. Koller in How To Preach Without Notes provides a deductive outline with points and sub points. An interesting approach is Litchfield’s in Visualizing the Sermon who suggests creating an outline of images. While I do think that preparing a full manuscript is helpful, for archival purposes as well as providing precision to word choice, having a clear outline is necessary for preaching without notes.
An Evangelical Lutheran Blog run by a Father Eckardt has a post up on Extemporaneous Preaching.
In the post there is first some discussion of the Eckardt’s theology and understanding of Preaching. What was of particular interest to me however was his methodology.
One interesting point is that the preacher must have an immersion in the scripture and the use of Biblical language in the sermon. He calls for thinking in and speaking in the language of the Bible. He also calls for the use of the KJV because of its beauty in language.
It is a good piece and I would suggest going on over and looking at the other suggestions that Eckardt provides.