Direct communication is a key competency of the coaching process, and it’s a skill that’s crucial for any pastor or ministry leader. A big part of direct communication is the ability to “bottom line.” When you take a concept down to its bottom line, you eliminate any storytelling, people pleasing or fear, and just name what’s really going on.
Of course you don’t want to purposefully offend someone, but you don’t let the fear of how someone may possibly respond stop you from speaking the truth.
I’ve discussed this with several coaching clients lately, pastors who I gently encouraged to “get to it” when they were talking around what they really needed to say. What’s interesting is that this need to bottom line has shown up not only in their coaching sessions, but also by being too verbose in their teaching and preaching.
I once heard that in public speaking we should focus on delivering seven-minute sound bites, because that’s how long the average person can concentrate without a break. Maybe we’ve been trained from watching television shows and having commercial breaks? I’ve also read that with more of us active on social media sites, our attention spans have gotten even shorter!
One of the pastors told me that in his religious tradition, if his sermon wasn’t at least 30 minutes, people wouldn’t think he’d done his job. I challenged him on that, saying people today are looking for more, in less amount of time. He took the challenge and said he’d cut his sermon in half – “15 minutes and I’m done!”
I’m still waiting to hear back about the results, but I predict I’ll hear a positive report.
Forcing yourself to bottom line and say more in less time is a great opportunity to clarify your message. By getting rid of any non-essential points, you’ll deliver a superior message that will be better received and remembered.
You’re turning your message from a floodlight to a spotlight – spotlighting what’s most important. And in today’s ministry landscape there’s no time to waste on anything else.
Instead of tossing around every possible idea and then seeing what sticks, it’s about having the courage to be very clear and specific in saying, “Here’s the way, here’s what we’re doing.”
Bottom lining is a leadership discipline that is well worth the effort. Imagine the clarity you would have if you forced yourself down from 30 minutes to 15 minutes. What if you had to choose ONE goal, ONE focus or ONE action – just ONE? If you had to choose, you would really make it matter. Choose.