Setting Tone in a Sermon: Engaging Audiences with Oratory


This download is a single-page lesson plan.

Engaging audiences with oratory

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The cadence, timbre, and inflection natural to a preacher create a “tone” for their sermons. Identifying your natural tone, and being able to alter it, is critical for setting the homiletical mood. After all, if a preacher intends to be funny but instead sounds whiny, needy, or unironically cajoling, they will “miss” their audience and fail to produce the desired effect. Of course, naturally gifted preachers often set a tone without realizing they’re doing it; but, even naturals need to learn to set a tone, shift a tone, and be aware of the tone they are setting at all times.

All preachers need to learn to set particular tones and to shift between them in order to keep from being monotonous, sonorous, or losing their audience. This takes practice. Perhaps even more important than the practice itself, this requires awareness and intentionality. You can’t fix what you don’t see, and you won’t fix what you don’t value. But if we care about effectively proclaiming the gospel, we will absolutely invest ourselves in the cultivation and stewardship of our preaching gifts.

This curriculum will help you understand the mechanics of how to set, shift, and control your tone; cultivate greater theatricality in your preaching to more fully engage audiences and effectively present the gospel; and craft moments within sermons that inspire, surprise, and motivate congregants toward spiritual transformation.


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