How To Speak To Teenagers

October 17, 2012 — 1 Comment

A couple of weeks ago at Saddleback Church, we had Doug Fields and Duffy Robbins (easily the top two youth ministry communicators in the world) and give an open presentation of their workshop of “Speaking To Teenagers”. This was a workshop that was basically picking their brains, getting an inside look in their heads on how they go about communicating to teenagers. It was open to any youth pastor who wanted to come and it was awesome to see and hang out with 170 pastors and youth workers and volunteers come and learn. I thought I would writ down some of the points we went over to share with you all.

Question: How do we communicate warmth and likability to a roomful of kids in the middle of a talk?

  1. Use their names in illustrations, in referencing common memories- anyway you can.
  2. Use humor. We never laugh with our enemies.
  3. Avoid profanity and vulgar language  Research has shown that “people who casually use profanities and vulgarities to pepper their speech are often perceived as abrasive and lacking character, maturity, intelligence, manners, and emotional control.”
  4. Draw references to what you in common with your students.
  5. As often as possible, when you’re using rebuke, correction, warning or accusatory type language, speak in the first person plural. 
  6. Stand as close as possible tot he group and if feasible speak from the same level as your students.
  7. Be conversational.

Doug and Duffy are not only the best communicators, they are also some of the funniest people on the stage. I’m talking hilarious. They gave some tips on how to use humor in a message. Here are some notes on that:

  1. Exaggeration: Any kind of overstatement related to people, places, sizes, the way people feel or act, and personal experiences.
  2. Surprise: Making use of unexpected or unusual feelings, events, etc.
  3. Absurdity: Using materials that are illogical in thinking or in language.
  4. Human Problems: Situations in which a person appears foolish or is simply the victim of everyday life (bloopers, candid camera, etc.) Doug and Duffy both said to try and use our own faults and mistakes as much as possible. It makes for better illustrations and makes it more personal.
  5. Sarcasm: Teasing or bringing attention to someone’s faults (this is the lowest hanging fruit on the humor tree).

One response to How To Speak To Teenagers


    Great stuff! I have read most of their book on this topic and refer to it occasionally. Thanks for sharing some practical tips of teaching students.


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