5 Brain-friendly Tips to Enhance Your Presentations

It’s all about the brain. When you preach a sermon or make presentations and want to maximize your impact with your presentation, keep the brain in mind. More than anyone else, cognitive psychologist Richard Mayer has studied the link between learning and multimedia. In his experiments, those exposed to his learning concepts recalled details more accurately and problem solved better, what we hope happens when we preach, teach, or present. Here’s a summary of his findings with practical tips you can easily apply in your next Powerpoint or Keynote presentation.

How to enhance your presentations.

  • People learn better when you use words and pictures versus words alone.
    • Application: include applicable pictures in your slides, not just filler type pictures.
  • People learn better when you simultaneously use words and corresponding pictures rather than using them successively.
    • Application: include words AND pictures on the same slide.
  • People learn better when you place the words and pictures close to each other rather far from each other on the slide.
    • Application: make sure you keep your words and related picture close to each other on every slide.
  • People learn better when you exclude extraneous material.
    • Application: keep your slides simple, the fewer words and pictures the better.
  • People learn better when you use animation and narration rather than animation and on-screen text.
    • Application: when appropriate, sprinkle animations into your presentations to illustrate key concepts. SermonSpice is a great resource for churches.

What have you discovered that has helped make your presentations more sticky?


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E-mail Etiquette for Busy Leaders

We’ve all gotten emails that either wasted our time, took us off task, or stirred up our emotions because someone just dumped on us. Email is both a blessing and a curse. One study discovered that we waste over eight hours a week from the distraction caused by emails [1]. Yikes! If you’re a busy pastor, ministry leader, or business professional, we can probably help each other by incorporating some simple e-mail etiquette pointers.

E-mail etiquette:

  1. Keep emails brief and to the point. Put the key message you want to convey right up front.
  2. Limit emails to one main subject. Try not to mix several subjects into one email.
  3. Don’t ‘Cc’ everybody. If you need to copy your email to another, make sure it goes only to the person who needs to get it, not to everybody that may have received the initial email.
  4. Don’t email messages that are emotional. If you need to communicate something emotional, criticize someone, or give negative feedback, pick up the phone and speak to the person. Or better yet, talk to them face-to-face. It’s easy to take an emotional email the wrong way.
  5. DON’T USE ALL CAPS. IT SOUND LIKE YOU ARE YELLING!
  6. Avoid the power play game by copying the email recipient’s boss. Sometimes it’s appropriate to copy the boss for information purposes. But if you’re trying to coerce the recipient by leveraging the boss’s influence, that’s not fair.
  7. Include your contact info in your signature.
  8. Re-read your email before you press “send.”

Any email tips you’ve discovered that make emails more useful?


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[1] www.drthomasjackson.com/pdf/Bad%20Habits.rtf

5 Benefits of Working Outside the Office

Although I’ve been a pastor 35 years, only in the last few years have I discovered the value of studying/working outside my church and home office. I’ll either go to McDonalds (cheap food) or when I lived in Chicago, Panera (good atmosphere and the place I preferred). Both provide free Wi-Fi. While I don’t advocate spending all your time working outside the office, I’ve found that doing so once a week benefits me and the ministry in these ways.

5 Benefits  of Working Outside the Office

  • Productivity: Less interruptions from others.
  • Creativity: A different environment spurs it.
  • Focus: Less distractions help me concentrate better (like being tempted to clean up my office or play with something on my desk).
  • Energy: A different ambiance/atmosphere gives me more.
  • Stress management: I feel less of it in a neutral environment.

When I do work outside the office, I use an app I play into my sound suppressing headphones. It’s called Ambiance which offers zillions of nature sounds to listen to. I use Audio-technics active noise-cancelling headphones. They’er cheaper than Bose and about as good.

If you can, try working outside your office a day or so a month and see if it benefits you as it does me.

What other advantages of studying outside the office have you discovered?

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Preaching with a mini-iPad: My First Experience

I’ve been a fan of the iPad since it came out. I’ve owned the original and the iPad 2 and I began to use it over two years ago when I preached. I even wrote an e-book, Maximizing Ministry with your iPad that you can download free  by clicking this link: ipad ebook final. However, I experienced a few limitations so I purchased a mini-iPad that I thought might address those issues. I preached for the first time with it recently. I loved it. Here are some highlights from that first experience.

  • The smaller size made it easier to hold while I preached. With the regular sized one I had to leave it on the lectern or the table and had to return to it for my next point. However, I was able to hold the mini the entire time and my hand never tired. It’s like holding a slim Bible.
  • Since the back of the iPads are quite slick, I needed to improve the grip. I bought a Poetic ThinShell Back Smart Cover Partner Case that worked great with just the extra tackiness I needed. At $8, you can’t beat the price.
  • I also purchased a new stylus. I paid a bit more, but this one is great. It’s more responsive to my writing. It’s called the amPen New Hybrid Stylus.
  • Finally, I now use a new PDF markup app that is superb. It’s called Notability and as of March 18 it was only $1.99 in the iTunes store, a steal.I create my sermon in MS Word, save the doc as a PDF, transfer to DROPBOX, and open it in Notability. I then can easily highlight and mark up as needed. Simple. One pointer: play with the font size until it’s large enough in the PDF for your eyes. Since the real estate is smaller on the mini, I had to make my font larger for my eyes.

If you use a mini for preaching, any apps or tricks you recommend?


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How an iPad Improved my Devotional Life

I’m a busy pastor and am committed to developing my walk with Jesus through several spiritual disciplines. One discipline I practice is a daily time with God when I read Scripture, pray, and journal.

Before I owned an iPad, my quiet time looked like this.

  • read my bible (the paper version), often reading several different bibles to compare translations
  • read a devotional from a paper book
  • journal with pen and paper and later I journaled on my Mac in a Word doc
  • pray through my prayer list on a Treo outlining program, when I got an iPhone I began to use it

Here’s what has changed since I got my iPad 6 weeks ago.

  • read my bible on my iPad using Olive Tree’s BibleReader program (multiple versions, side-by-side comparison, ability to hi-light, take notes, and cut and paste into another program)
  • read an e-devotional from one of the best bible study apps, Logos
  • journal on my iPad using a program called MaxJournal
  • pray through my prayer list using a program called PrayerLists

How this has improved my devotional life.

  • While not feeling rushed, having these tools all in one place has saved time that I can now devote to the actual spiritual exercise.
  • Reading on the big iPad screen using BibleReader is an incredible experience as I can view side-by-side 2 translations at once, can pull up commentaries alongside the text, can copy a verse and paste in into my journal, can hi-light in one color verses I’m memorizing and hi-light in another color a verse that stands out
  • MaxJournal gives a very nice layout, the ability to search, and the ability to use the on-screen keyboard or a bluetooth keyboard. Very cool.
  • PrayerLists provides an easy way to record prayer needs and allows me to schedule them on the days I want to pray for those needs.
  • Having everything in one small package makes it more convenient since I don’t have to lug around four things-bible, journal, devotional, and prayer list.

Struggles I still face.

  • To be honest, I still feel kinda’ guilty not reading out of a paper bible. Sometimes I feel like I’m not really reading the bible though the more I read from BibleReader, the less guilty I feel. 🙂
  • It is a bit of a hassle with the current iPad os to move back and forth between programs, but OS 4.0 will allow multi-tasking.
  • PrayerLists is not yet adapted for iPad but the developer is working on it.
  • At first it seemed too ‘tech-y,’ but the more I use this system, the more I’m finding this tool to be an invaluable help in my walk with Christ.

If you have an iPad, has it helped you grow? if so, how?

In a few weeks I’ll post my experience using the iPad in preaching.

Related posts: How Pastors can Benefit from an iPad