Have you ever given a presentation as a missionary that just didn’t feel right?
Maybe a few people in the audience had a skeptical scowl on their face, or too many of them were looking at their phones.
I remember a time one guy was angry with my presentation. (I think, but I’m not sure.) His face was red, his arms were crossed, but he never said anything. Maybe he was mad his laptop wasn’t working—I can’t be sure. Either way, I didn’t feel good about the presentation afterwards
We all have presentations like this, and we usually give a reason for it. “I’m not a great public speaker. It’s not what I focus on in my ministry anyways.”
Or, it can seem like the presentation went okay, but then there is no good outcome from it. They don’t pray for you, and they don’t partner with you financially.
So what’s happening?
Missionaries have some misconceptions about giving presentations that need to be corrected.
#1 Misconception of Missionaries Giving Presentations.
Dispensing Information Results in More Supporters.
This fallacy says: “If I give them the right information, they will make the right choice to partner with me in ministry.”
Accordingly, the presentation is a data dump on the screen. It reveals all the statistics relevant to your ministry. I see this fallacy over and over again. Missionaries attempt to cram tons of information into a four minute presentation.
The solution? Pick one or two key pieces of information and make them “feel” that information.
For example, instead of telling listeners that a people group is only .1% Christian, tell them that if somebody wanted to hear about Jesus, they would have to ask about 1000 people before they could meet anybody who could tell them about Jesus.
You do need to give people information, but you need to give key information in a way that people can digest and “feel.” It’s best to leave people wanting for more. If they want or need more information, you can share it with them during question and answer or in another setting.
#2 Misconception of Missionaries Giving Presentations.
You MUST Tell the Story of One Changed Life.
If you give a detailed and heart-wrenching story about one person’s life that was changed, this is indeed better than giving a statistical information dump.
Here’s the problem: Every missionary knows to tell such a story.
The people listening to your presentation have heard many such stories of a life changed, and they all begin to sound the same and become almost interchangeable.
Please understand me, all those stories are good, God-glorifying stories, and since they are the work of God himself, they indeed will have the same “fingerprints” on them.
So the challenge is to tell a story of what God has done that is more than just one changed life.
Here is one way to do it: Show how this one changed life fit into a strategy than will not only change one life, but can also change a whole city or people group.
Another way is to show how one life was changed while avoiding mistakes that in the past led to only a few lives being changed instead of many lives being changed.
You must give a vision that goes beyond just one impacted individual.
#3 Misconception of Missionaries Giving Presentations.
Exhaustively Answer Questions.
When you are excited about what God has called you to, you are excited to talk about it—especially when people ask you questions about it.
The problem is that you can beat a horse to death and not know you’re doing it.
Here’s a test: make a list of the most common questions you are asked after a presentation. You should be able to easily come up with at least three to five. Then, force yourself to answer each of those questions in less than 45 seconds, and ideally in 30 seconds. Have somebody time you with a stopwatch and see if you can do it without speed talking.
It’s important you don’t give the impression you are dodging the question or being dismissive, but know that people will start tuning you out after about 45 seconds, if not earlier. If you can state something concisely, then it shows you must know what you’re talking about.
You might be saying, “Some questions just cannot be answered in that short amount of time.”
Ideally, you’re right. You can even acknowledge that fact in your answer: “It is impossible to adequately answer that question in such a short time, so we can talk more later, but let me say these three things to point you in the right direction…”
You don’t have to be an expert at presentations, and it’s probably better that you’re not an expert, but you can’t afford to waste precious presentations in front of potential supporters. To make the most of those presentations, avoid these misconceptions.
Solutions for Missionaries Beyond Presentations.
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