TO MAKE your presentation informative to your audience, you need to do more than speak on a worthwhile subject. Ask yourself: ‘Why does this audience need to hear this subject? What am I going to say that will make the audience feel that they really benefited from the discussion?’
In the school, if you are assigned to demonstrate how to witness to someone, your householder will be your audience. In other cases, you may be speaking to the congregation as a whole.
What Your Audience Knows. Ask yourself, ‘What does the audience know about the subject?’ That should determine your starting point. If you are speaking to a congregation that includes many mature Christians, do not simply repeat basics, which most of them know. Build on these fundamental truths. Of course, if many newly interested ones are also in attendance, you should consider the needs of both groups.
Adjust the pace of your delivery according to what your audience knows. If you include some details that are likely familiar to most, cover these fairly quickly. But slow down when presenting ideas that may be new to the majority of your listeners so that they can grasp these clearly.
What Will Inform. Being informative does not always mean having something new to say. Some speakers have a way of stating certain familiar truths with such simplicity that many in the audience will fully understand them for the first time.
In the field ministry, it is not enough to mention a news item to illustrate that we are living in the last days. Use the Bible to show the meaning of the event. This will truly be informative to the householder. Similarly, when mentioning some detail about natural law or about plant or animal life, your goal should not be to present some fascinating scientific fact that the householder has never heard before. Rather, your objective should be to combine evidence from nature with statements in the Bible to show that there is a Creator who loves us. This will help the householder to see matters from a fresh perspective.
Presenting a subject to an audience that has heard it many times before can be a challenge. But to be an effective teacher, you need to learn how to do this successfully. How can it be done?
Research will help. Instead of simply including in your talk facts that readily come to mind, use the research tools discussed on pages 33 to 38. Have in mind the suggestions given there on the objectives you should be striving to achieve. In your research, you may find that a little-known historical event is directly related to your subject. Or you might come across a recent statement in the news that will illustrate the point that you plan to discuss.
As you examine the material, stimulate your own thinking by asking such questions as what? why? when? where? who? and how? For example: Why is this true? How can I prove it? What popular beliefs make it hard for some to grasp this Bible truth? Why is it important? How should this affect a person’s life? What example demonstrates the benefit of applying it? What does this Bible truth reveal about Jehovah’s personality? Depending on the material you are discussing, you might ask: When did this occur? How can we make practical application of this material today? You might even enliven your delivery by asking and answering some of such questions when you are giving the talk.
Your talk may call for you to use scriptures that are familiar to your audience. What can you do to make your handling of these informative? Do not simply read them; explain them.
Discussion of a familiar text may become more informative if you break the text down, isolating portions that relate to the theme of your talk and then explaining these. Consider the possibilities with a text such as Micah 6:8 in the New World Translation. What is “justice”? Whose standard of justice is being discussed? How would you illustrate what is meant by “to exercise justice”? Or “to love kindness”? What is modesty? How would you apply the material in the case of an elderly person? The material you will actually use, of course, should be determined by such factors as your theme, your objective, your audience, and the time available.
Simple definitions of terms are often helpful. For some people, it is eye-opening to learn the meaning of the “kingdom” referred to at Matthew 6:10. Being reminded of a definition may even help a longtime Christian to discern more accurately what a text is actually saying. This is clear when we read 2 Peter 1:5-8 and then define the various elements mentioned in those verses: faith, virtue, knowledge, self-control, endurance, godly devotion, brotherly affection, and love. When words that overlap in meaning are used in the same context, your defining them can help differentiate one from the other. That is true of such terms as wisdom, knowledge, discernment, and understanding, used at Proverbs 2:1-6.
Your audience may find it informative if you simply reason on a text. Many people are surprised when they first realize that at Genesis 2:7 in some Bible translations, Adam is said to be a living soul and that according to Ezekiel 18:4, souls die. On one occasion, Jesus surprised the Sadducees by referring to Exodus 3:6, which they professed to believe, and then applying it to the resurrection of the dead.—Luke 20:37, 38.
Sometimes it is enlightening to point out the context of a scripture, the circumstances that surrounded the writing, and the identity of the speaker or the listener. The Pharisees were well acquainted with Psalm 110. Still, Jesus drew their attention to an important detail that is found in the first verse. He asked: “‘What do you think about the Christ? Whose son is he?’ They said to him: ‘David’s.’ He said to them: ‘How, then, is it that David by inspiration calls him “Lord,” saying, “Jehovah said to my Lord: ‘Sit at my right hand until I put your enemies beneath your feet’”? If, therefore, David calls him “Lord,” how is he his son?’” (Matt. 22:41-45) When you reason on the Scriptures as Jesus did, you will help people to read God’s Word more carefully.
When a speaker states the time of writing of a Bible book or the time when a certain event took place, he should also describe the conditions that prevailed at that time. In that way, the audience will more clearly grasp the importance of the book or the event.
Comparisons can help make what you say more informative. You might contrast a popular view with what the Bible says on the same point. Or you might compare two parallel Bible accounts. Are there differences? Why? What do we learn from them? Your doing this can give your listeners a fresh perspective on the subject.
If you are assigned to discuss some aspect of the Christian ministry, you might enrich your presentation by starting with an overview. Discuss what is to be done, why it needs to be done, and how it relates to our overall goals as Jehovah’s Witnesses. Then explain where, when, and how to do the work.
What if your talk requires that you discuss some of “the deep things of God”? (1 Cor. 2:10) If you begin by identifying and explaining certain key elements of the subject, the details will be more readily understood. And if you conclude with a concise overview of your material, your audience will likely be left with the satisfying feeling that they really learned something.
Counsel on Christian Living. Your audience will especially benefit if you help them to see how the information in your talk applies to their lives. As you examine the scriptures in your assigned material, ask yourself, ‘Why was this information preserved in the Scriptures until our day?’ (Rom. 15:4; 1 Cor. 10:11) Think about situations in life that those in your audience are facing. Consider the situations themselves in the light of the counsel and principles in the Scriptures. In your talk, reason on the Scriptures to show how they can help a person to deal wisely with such situations. Avoid generalizations. Discuss specific attitudes and actions.
For a start, apply one or two of the above suggestions to a talk you are preparing. As you gain experience, apply more of them. In time you will find that the audience will look forward to your talks, being confident that they will hear something that will really benefit them.