Have you ever been to a church, or maybe watched a pastor preach on TV or online, and wondered, “How is preaching this entire sermon without any notes?” It can seem like a very daunting task, but at the same time, preaching without notes is not impossible. It just takes some creativity, resourcefulness, and preparation.
So if you would like to get to the point where you could preach your sermons without notes, here are some tips to consider:
1) Practice…a lot. Going through your sermon two to three times is not going to be enough if you want to preach without any notes. You’re going to need to practice the sermon from beginning to end several times in order to get comfortable enough to present it without notes. But remember, you’re not memorizing it word-for-word. You want it to still sound authentic and genuine, but you want to also be extremely familiar with the content.
2) Prepare your content way in advance. In order to give yourself the time and ability to apply tip #1, you must prepare your sermons well in advance. If you’re not writing your sermons until the week before you preach them, you’re not going to have enough time to practice it enough to be comfortable without your notes. However, if you can get in a habit of preparing your sermons several weeks out, you’ll be setting yourself up for success by giving yourself more time to familiarize yourself with the message.
3) Use a confidence monitor. Any church where the pastor doesn’t use notes has a confidence monitor in the back of the room. A confidence monitor is just a large TV screen in the back of the room that the pastor can refer to throughout the sermon. The monitor will show sermon points and Scripture verses at the appropriate times throughout the sermon, so the pastor knows which part of the sermon is coming up. This monitor also gives him reminders in case he forgets part of the message.
4) Incorporate slides. If you don’t have the space or resources to install a confidence monitor in your church, but you do have screens at the front of the room, use presentation slides as you preach. These slides can show specific passages of Scripture you’re using in the message, as well as key takeaways or phrases you want your congregation to remember from the sermon. Not only does this give your audience a visual way to follow along with the message, but it gives you checkpoints to refer to throughout the sermon in case you forget something.
Once again, preaching without any notes isn’t an easy task. There’s a lot of extra work required on the front end. But if this is a goal you’ve set for your personal preaching style, I hope these tips will help you as you continue to work and prepare to accomplish that goal.