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5 Preparation Keys to Confidently Speak at the Last Minute

May 5 2021

As a preacher, advanced notice that you are required to speak is certainly welcomed, but can’t always be guaranteed. 

At Hillsong Church, which is a very spontaneous environment, our preaching team never knows when they might be asked to speak or even more nerve-wracking is to jump up mid-service when the “link” has dropped out.

You may have heard the anecdote about Sir Winston Churchill, who on arrival at an event remained seated in his car to the dismay of his chauffeur. When asked if the great statesman was okay he replied, “I’m just preparing my impromptu remarks.”

Here are five practical tips revealed by Ps Robert Fergusson in the Reach & Influence course material that may help you in your preparation to speak at the last moment.

1. Mental interrogation

Constantly ask yourself questions when you enter a service or meeting – such as “God, what are you doing in this auditorium?” and ‘What is happening in this auditorium?” If you have already read an audience and situation before you are asked to speak, you will already be prepared.

2. Embrace change as a lifestyle

People have got the idea if you want to give a good message it would take weeks or years of preparation. We do need preparation, but it doesn’t mean we can’t speak at the last minute. Preparing all the time is the key even when you are not speaking and change is a part of that lifestyle. 

3. Prepare simple answers to numerous subjects

This is an extension of mental interrogation – what if you were to prepare and practice simple answers for 20, 40, or 60 ethical dilemmas or Biblical subjects. Practise them so if anyone were to ask you a question at the end of a message or in a meeting, you’ve prepared exactly what to say because you’ve thought it through. 

4. Have a strategy

Robert recommends following the strategy found within Abraham Lincoln’s impromptu speech on Gettysburg Address of which there are three parts: a past event, a present lesson, and a future challenge. So next time you’re asked to speak without warning, talk about the past, say something relevant to the present and challenge people for the future.

5. Practice on any topic

One day when you are out having coffee with a friend, ask them to give you any topic, and no matter what they say, speak for two minutes with a pertinent thought. Remember to apply the previous point which is talk about a past event, give a present lesson, and finally a future challenge. 


Andy Hopper


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