EXPERIENCED speakers know the value of having a theme. When they are preparing a talk, the theme helps them to focus attention on a narrower field of information and to think more deeply about it. The result is that instead of superficially touching on many points, they develop their material in a way that is more beneficial to their audience. When each of the main points is directly connected to the theme and helps to develop it, the audience is also helped to remember those points and to appreciate their significance.
Although it can be said that your theme is the subject on which you speak, you will find that the quality of your talks will improve if you take the position that your theme is the particular viewpoint from which you develop your subject. The Kingdom, the Bible, and the resurrection are broad subjects. A variety of themes can be developed on these subjects. Here are some examples: “The Kingdom, a Real Government,” “God’s Kingdom Will Make Earth a Paradise,” “The Bible Is Inspired of God,” “The Bible Is a Practical Guide for Our Day,” “Resurrection Offers Hope to Grieving Ones,” and “The Resurrection Hope Helps Us to Remain Firm When Faced With Persecution.” All of these themes require development along completely different lines.
Consistent with the dominant theme of the Bible, the preaching done by Jesus Christ during his earthly ministry highlighted the theme: “The kingdom of the heavens has drawn near.” (Matt. 4:17) How was that theme developed? More than 110 times in the four Gospels, reference is made to that Kingdom. But Jesus did more than use the term “kingdom” repeatedly. Both by what he taught and by the miracles he performed, Jesus made clear that he, the one who was present, was the Son of God, the Messiah, the one to whom Jehovah would give the Kingdom. Jesus also showed that through him the way was being opened for others to share in that Kingdom. He identified the qualities that must be demonstrated by those who would be given that privilege. By his teachings and the powerful works he performed, he made clear what God’s Kingdom would mean in the lives of people and pointed out that his expelling of demons by means of God’s spirit was evidence that ‘the kingdom of God had really overtaken’ his hearers. (Luke 11:20) It was concerning that Kingdom that Jesus commissioned his followers to bear witness.—Matt. 10:7; 24:14.
Using an Appropriate Theme. You are not called on to develop a theme to the same extent that the Bible does, but having an appropriate theme is no less important.
If selection of the theme is left to you, consider first the objective of your presentation. Then as you select the main points that will make up your outline, be sure that these really support the theme you have chosen.
If the theme is assigned, analyze carefully what it indicates as to the way that your material is to be developed. Some effort may be required to appreciate the value and potential of such a theme. If you will be choosing material with which to develop the assigned theme, make careful selection so that the theme will be kept in focus. On the other hand, if the material is provided, you still need to analyze how to use it in harmony with the theme. You also need to consider why the material is important to your audience and what your objective should be in delivering it. This will help you determine what to emphasize in your delivery.
How to Emphasize the Theme. In order to give proper emphasis to the theme, you must lay the foundation when selecting and organizing your material. If you use only what supports your theme and if you follow principles involved in preparing a good outline, you will almost automatically emphasize the theme.
Repetition can help to reinforce the theme. In classical music, a theme is a melody repeated often enough to characterize the entire composition. The melody does not always reappear in the same form. Sometimes only a phrase or two occur, occasionally a variation on the theme is used, but in one way or another, the composer skillfully weaves his melody in and out of the composition until it permeates the whole. That is the way it should be with the theme of a talk. Repetition of key words from the theme is like the recurring melody of a musical composition. Synonyms of these words or the theme rephrased serves as a variation on the theme. Use of such means will cause the theme to be the main thought your audience carries away.
These principles apply not only to talks from the platform but also to discussions in the field ministry. A relatively brief conversation becomes more memorable if a theme stands out. Instruction given at a Bible study will more readily come back to mind if a theme has been emphasized. The effort that you put into selecting and developing suitable themes will do much to enhance your effectiveness as a speaker and as a teacher of God’s Word.