Leadership training - Lesson 12

By Stafford North

Preparing a Talk or Lesson


To inform the class in good techniques for planning a talk or lesson so they can publicly share their faith with others.


  1. When a Christian is able to appear before groups, either large or small, he multiplies his opportunities for doing good.
  2. While the most basic requirement for being able to make a talk or present a lesson is to have something worthwhile to say, even the one who knows the most to say must know how to say it well. Subject Sentence: Preparation for speaking is a matter of following a good plan.


  1. Select your topic carefully.
    1. Think of the audience, the occasion, and what you are best suited to talk about; look especially for what the audience needs to hear.
    2. Think of whether you wish to inform, convince, stimulate (inspire) or actuate (move to action).
    3. If you do not have any idea in mind, determine a general area, then narrow it down as in the following sequence: New Testament — not doctrinal — life of Jesus — not a miracle or His death — a parable — not parable of tares or sower — prodigal son.
    4. The most common mistake in subject selection is the failure to limit the subject sufficiently.
      1. It is much better to say much about a limited topic, than to say a little about a broad topic.
      2. It is better to speak for ten minutes on Paul’s faith than faith in general, and it would be still better to spend the time on Paul’s faith in prison, or Paul’s faith in the Ephesian riot.
  2. Study your subject thoroughly.
    1. Think about it and jot down every idea that comes to your mind.
    2. Then read all you can about your subject:
      1. using different versions of the Bible,
      2. using a concordance, topical Bible, and reference Bible, using commentaries and books or magazine articles on the subject.
    3. Talk about your ideas to others—your friends, your family, a preacher or elder; conversation will help to sharpen your ideas and gain new ones for you.
    4. Write down the materials you find with a note about the exact place you found it so you can find it again or so someone else can find it.
    5. Look for:
      1. verses of Scripture.
      2. quotations from preachers, commentators, authors.
      3. examples or cases, particularly examples of people doing exactly what you want the audience to do. (If you want them to be patient, tell them of people being patient; if you want them to be evangelistic, tell them of people being evangelistic; if you want them to be kind to their spouses, tell them of people being kind to their spouses.)
    6. factual information such as dates, statistics, distances, values, weights.
  3. Organize your information clearly.
    1. Write down the purpose of your speech: to inform, to convince, to stimulate, to actuate as in the following samples:
      1. To convince the class to donate to a special missions contribution.
      2. To actuate the congregation to participate in the visitation program.
  4. To inform the class of God’s teaching on humility.
    1. Write a statement (to be called the subject sentence) summarizing the information you wish the audience to gain, stating the proposition of which you wish to convince them, urging the feeling to which you wish to inspire them, or suggesting the action which you wish them to take: for example:
  5. A speech on Abraham’s faith could have a subject sentence which states “Abraham’s faith should inspire us to greater faith.”
  6. If you wish to talk on the visitation program, you might develop this subject sentence: “Visiting is the key to saving souls.”
  7. A talk on patience could say, “Christians need patience in persecution, patience in hardships, and patience in temptation;” and ? 2003 Oklahoma Christian University

    1. Support your subject sentence with three or four main points drawn from:
      1. The phrases in a verse or two of scripture, called the textual plan.
        1. From 1 Timothy 4:12 you can get these phrases for main points Be an example in (1) word, (2) manner of life, (3) love, (4) faith, and (5) purity. Each of these would become a main heading. b. From John 4:24—(l) Worship in spirit, and (2) Worship in truth.
      2. The main ideas or important lessons from several verses or a chapter, called the expository plan.
        1. The story of the prodigal son might be considered under these three headings: (1) the prodigal-the lost see themselves; (2) the father-God sees the lost; and (3) the elder brother-the self-righteous see the lost.
        2. Sermons on I Corinthians 13 have often been divided into (1) the importance of love, (2) the nature of love, and (3) the permanence of love.
        3. Peter’s sermon in Acts 2 might be developed in an expository fashion by recognizing that the entire sermon is on the theme, “Jesus is the Christ” and then may be divided into (1) Jesus worked miracles, (2) Jesus fulfilled prophecy, and (3) Jesus was raised from the dead to sit at God’s right hand.
      3. Another plan is to (1) tell a Bible story and (2) tell the lessons to be gained from the story called narration with application.
      4. You may wish to take a word or principle such as the golden rule or a doctrine such as repentance and handle it under three headings: (1) explained where you tell what the word or principle means, (2) exemplified-where you give examples from the Bible who demonstrate the word or principle, and (3) applied-life situations of today in which the word or principle is needed or in which people of today have practiced the word or principle.
      5. Another useful pattern may be termed biographical, and in this one the speaker takes major events or
      6. You may wish to take a command and make each main point an example of people obeying this command.
      7. There are, of course, many other ways in which the main points of a speech or lesson may be developed, but these are the most frequently used and will provide a good guide.
    2. Plan an introduction of a few opening remarks to precede the subject sentence to gain the attention and interest of the audience, to make them like you, and to provide any necessary background information about your subject.
      1. Use quotations, striking facts, or interesting examples.
      2. Be certain that the beginning shows confidence and that it gets attention.
    3. Plan the conclusion to follow the main points.
      1. Do not leave the conclusion to chance—this is a most important part of the speech.
      2. You may summarize in the informative speech.
      3. Close strong with a good example or striking appeal.
      4. Do not end by saying “Thank you” for this has become a meaningless way to quit.
    4. Your outline should then be made according to the pattern demonstrated by the lesson outlines in this book.
  8. Practice your talk repeatedly.
    1. The inexperienced speaker is likely to stop his preparation once his outline is made, but he will improve his presentation considerably by talking through his remarks out loud.
    2. Get the outline well in mind by reading it out loud, then lay your outline aside and say your speech with as little reference to it as possible.
    3. You do not need to write out your presentation word for word and then deliver it by reading it or from memory. For most people, this method does not contribute to an active, interesting delivery.
    4. Practice your speech so that you can do it in the right time limit.


  1. Giving talks and delivering good lessons is one of the most rewarding services we can find in the church.
  2. Time spent in learning to do this more effectively is well worth it.
  3. Note the sample outline below.
  4. Each student should give a talk in class. Note what the teacher will be looking for on the evaluation sheet so you can prepare to do well on those items.

Sample Outline for Class


Purpose: To stimulate the class to live courageously so they can meet the challenges of life.


  1. (Actually start here) Almost everyone likes to watch stories of the “old west” on TV because they are always centered around some person of courage like Matt Dillon or Wyatt Earp.
  2. (Example) Not many, however, associate courage with religion.

Subject Sentence: Actually, living right requires the greatest courage.

Body: (Body is developed by series of examples)

  1. Peter and John had the courage to preach Christ (Acts 4)
    1. What would you do if the police told you not to mention Jesus anymore?
    2. (Facts) Peter and John were put in jail, beaten, and threatened to keep them from preaching Jesus.
    3. (Scripture) Their reply was, “We must obey God rather than men” and they continued to preach.
    4. (Summary and Transition) With their faith in God, Peter and John would not stop telling others about Jesus even if it meant jail or death. Thus they are examples of great courage.
  2. Stephen had the courage to forgive (Acts 7).
    1. (Example) It takes a little courage to fight someone bigger than you when your pride has been wounded and you feel threatened.
    2. But it requires much greater courage to be right but to forgive those who mistreat you.
    3. (Facts) Stephen preached Jesus to those who needed salvation, but they did not want to believe.
      1. They became angry.
      2. They lied about him and bit him.
      3. They took him out of the city and stoned him.
    4. Stephen, with almost super-human courage, said, “Lord, Scripture lay not this sin to their charge.”
  3. Paul had the courage to admit his mistake
    1. Admitting you are wrong is just about the hardest thing to do.
    2. (Facts) You know the story of how Paul was giving his life to persecuting Christians.
      1. He consented to Stephen’s death and held the coats.
      2. He “laid waste the church, entering into every house, and dragging men and women committed them to prison.” (Acts 8:3)
      3. He received permission to carry his persecution to Damascus.
    3. (Facts) On the way he met the Lord and discovered how wrong he had been.
    4. To change to the other side meant he must give up his position with the Jews, forsake his family and friends, admit his mistake, and join the forces he had fought.
    5. What courage this would take! But Paul showed this very courage.

Conclusion (Makes practical application of lesson of courage.):

  1. We must have the courage to preach Christ to our neighbors, and when we think of Peter and John, surely we could never say, “I am afraid to mention religion to my friends.”
  2. We must have the courage to show forgiveness and Christian love and virtue, to be like Christ; and when we think of Stephen, surely we can do better.
  3. We must have the courage to admit it when we have been wrong and we will never have as difficult a situation to overcome as Paul.
  4. Be Christian! Be Courageous!


Did the student have a single, useful idea to get across?

Yes No

Did the student organize his material:

Well Fairly well Poorly

Did the student use:

factual information examples

quotations scriptures

Did the student begin interestingly?

Yes No

Did the student end effectively?

Yes No

Did the student speak with good variety and emphasis?

Yes Fairly well No

Did the student keep eye contact with the audience?

None Some Most All

Did the student exhibit any distracting mannerisms?

Yes No


Download Worksheets

Back to Leadership Training

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.