One of the best object lessons I’ve ever seen was when I was in 10th grade. The speaker was talking about what sin does to our lives. He used a clear jar of water to represent us and some black chemical to represent sin. As he talked about sin and the different sins that take hold in our lives he put more and more of the chemical in the water until it was completely black.
Later he talked about how, when we let Jesus come into our life, He sets us free from the power of sin. Then he poured a yellowish chemical into the blackened water and it became clear again. He used this to symbolize how life is better with Jesus in it than when He’s not.
His object lesson really stuck with me. In fact I use it from time to time with the kids in my ministry today. I’ve seen many speakers use it since then. Looking back his illustration showed me what people who give memorable talks do well:
They use symbols, stories, and scenes to make their talks more memorable.
This past summer we took over 100 5th & 6th Graders to camp up at Forest Home. Our speaker was talking about doing what’s right even when it’s hard. She shared a story of when she was in 8th grade and how some of the cool girls in her school were picking on a less popular girl. Our speaker knew it wasn’t right but never did anything to stand up for the other girl.
One day, when the popular girls were going to steal some of the other girl’s art supplies, our speaker stepped in and stopped them. She was worried she would lose her standing with them and feared they’d turn and start picking on her. But in that moment, when she saw what the bullying was doing to the other girl, she knew she needed to take a stand.
Our kids still talk about that story. They don’t remember our speaker’s name but they remember how she stood up to a bully and why it’s important to stand up for others.
And that’s why our speaker told the story, because stories make talks more memorable and the more memorable your talk is the more doable it becomes for your audience.
Scenes from movies and TV shows also make talks more memorable.
A few months ago I did a talk on selfishness and what it looks like for a person to be selfish. I showed our kids this clip from Willy Wonka and The Chocolate Factory (normally I use newer movies but this is an older one I knew they would be familiar with):
While most movies aren’t written from a Christian perspective they usually illustrate values and principles that are shown in the Bible.
Hollywood has a HUGE budget, why not use it?
The thing you have to keep in mind about using symbols, stories, and scenes is the same thing you have to keep in mind at a buffet. There are more options than you (and your audience) can take in at one sitting. So you’ve got to pick and choose what you’re going to use to season your talks and what you’re not.
One week you may throw in a scene from a movie. And on another week you might share a story from your life instead of doing scene. Then the next week you could use a symbol instead of a story or a scene.
Like leaving out the seasoning in your food, just talking in your talks makes it taste bland. Find the right ingredients that will make your talks more savory.
What scene, symbol, or story can you include in your next talk to make it more memorable?