A friend asked me how I plan a talk. 'Do you aim for three points or intro, middle, end, or what?' he asked. 'Or both?'
Of course, I responded that for it to be an evangelical sermon worth its salt, it categorically must have three points all beginning with the same letter. That was a joke. I didn't really say that (no offence to those wedded to the alliterative approach).
Actually, in all seriousness, I do think the 'three points beginning with p' approach is based on a fairly fundamental mistake preachers and speakers can make: namely that people are going to remember what we say. It's a bubble burster this, but they almost never will.
What people remember is how you made them feel.
That is worth thinking about. ('It's not what you say it's the way that you say it'..)
So I didn't say 'three points beginning with p'. I did quote another friend who once said about planning a talk: 'Say what you're going to say, then say it, then say what you just said!' In other words, one main point, reinforced three times.
I like this, though I confess I'm rarely so disciplined in my talks. I tend to think 'intro' (warm your listeners up with an apt story or joke - and if you can't think of an apt one go for one self-evidently and self-deprecatingly inapt), 'main bit'
(usually based on scripture, directly or indirectly, and I try to put
the scripture up on the screen), and 'summary' (reinforce the main point).
Also I almost always
project pictures to go with my talk, even if they seem non-essential,
because they engage a different part of people's brain and keep them
In some settings, and for longer talks, it can be good to break for a few minutes and get people talking to each other in pairs about some related question. This refreshes concentration and helps people actively engage with the topic.
Lastly, there's nothing better than genuine passion and nothing worse then hype (and I've done both over the years!)