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No Notes, Lots of Notes, Brief Notes

The pros and cons of extemporaneous and manuscript delivery

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The Montagues vs. the Capulets; the Hatfields vs. the McCoys; the House of Lancaster vs. the House of York. Clan spats are not limited to literature, folk lore, or history. Homiletics has its own spat: preaching with a manuscript vs. preaching extempore. Each side has its champions, and each holds its turf with fervor.

This article tries to bring some balance to the spat by adopting Fred Craddock's stance:

Every method pays a price for its advantages. Those who prefer the freedom and relationships available to the preacher without notes will not usually rate as high on careful phrasing and wealth of content. Those who prefer the tightly woven fabric of a manuscript must … accept the fact that a manuscript is less personal and its use is less evocative of intense listener engagement. (Preaching, p. 216)

This article describes the pros and cons of each method, as well as some pointers for each. Before looking at the three methods—no notes, lots of notes, and brief notes—three ...

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Displaying 1–4 of 4 comments

DAVID Griffin

June 18, 2013  4:30pm

Really enjoyed it. Very practical advice!

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brian harris

March 26, 2010  1:56pm

I would like to see more details on how the brief notes works. What would you include and what would you exclude? I can get easily frazzled so no notes isn't an option. However, manuscripting seems just as bad. I like to make each powerpoint slide (20-30 per sermon) and keep notes on my printed powerpoint page.

Ben DeBoef

September 02, 2009  4:09pm

I tend to butcher manuscripts and am cut from the cloth of extempore. I am still trying to find my style and want to be good at preaching, but there is a battle within me between artistic word choices and quality communication via eye contact. I am not good enough extemporaneously to do both yet. What are some excercises I might do to improve my more relational type of speaking?

Kyle Lewis

January 10, 2009  10:22am

Great explaination of "no notes" and pretty good explaination of "lots of notes" despire his bias toward "no notes." Would have appreciated more on the last category, "brief notes." Overall, excellent article.

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