Tips on Talking Between Songs
I had a chat earlier today with my staff worship leaders. We are incredibly blessed here at COTM to have some amazingly talented, “sold out for Christ and His church” musicians who have a heart for leading people in worship and getting it done with excellence. But excellence doesn’t come without sharpening and critiquing. So, today in our meeting I talked to them about an important part of worship leading that’s often overlooked: how to talk between songs.
I spent a large chunk of my life touring, going from city to city across America performing and leading worship. One thing I learned from those days is that I’m best at communicating through song; I’m not nearly as skilled in the art of public speaking. Doesn’t mean I can’t do it, but in a contest, music will win every time. I suspect that it’s the same for the majority of musicians and worship leaders. We let our songs tell our stories. However, there are times when it’s necessary for us to talk between songs or to exhort in the middle of a song. Those moments, no matter how great our voices are, can make the difference between a good and a great worship time. Below are a few points that I spoke to my worship leaders about today (in no particular order of importance):
**1. Be Yourself **
Don’t be a fake. You have a unique personality so use it! Be the same person on the stage that you are off. Let them see YOU. That’s what will ultimately endear them to you, and when they trust you they will be much more willing to go where you want them to go. Speak in your own words. Try not to mimic what you’ve heard others say. Be prepared for where the song will take you and…
2. Speak from the Heart
Nothing beats life experience. If a song reminds you of something great God has done in your life, use it. Are you leading a song about heaven? Allow yourself to remember loved ones whom you desperately miss but are comforted to know that they are safe in the arms of God. Are you singing about the sacrifice of Christ? Think about where you would be had Jesus not gone to the cross. Allow these emotions to guide you as you speak. I realize this is a little more difficult for younger leaders to employ, seeing as though a 20-year old probably has yet to experience the ups and downs in life, which brings me to…
3. Less Is Best
It’s a serious pet peeve of mine to hear worship leaders ramble on between songs. Say what you have to say and move on to what you do best – leading songs. I’ve painted myself in a corner so many times, or worse yet quenched the spirit in the room, by talking too much in an effort to explain why we are there and why we are singing. If you’ve planned for a scripture reading or an announcement between songs, don’t belabor the point. Remember the old showbiz adage: “Keep them wanting more.” You never want people to feel as though you’re rambling.
4. Are You Glad to be There?
Nothing’s worse than a worship leader just going through their paces. I see this so many times. Your face and body language tell me that you can’t wait for this thing to be over, or that you’re terrified that the whole service could fall apart at any moment. Your demeanor should be one of excitement and expectancy. This is the highlight of your week! This is what you’ve been preparing and rehearsing for! Even if things do go wrong, so what? We’re all here to honor God, not to get a pat on the back, which leads me to my final point…
5. Take the Pressure Off Yourself
I think this point helped my young worship leaders more than anything else. If you mess up or say the wrong thing, it’s ok. It’s gonna happen. The big thing is to keep reminding yourself that you’ll learn and grow from every service you lead. I cannot begin to count how many times I’ve blown the lyrics of a song or stumbled over myself as I led communion. But instead of feeling embarrassed (which is different than critiquing yourself later) I allow myself to realize that the congregation doesn’t expect me to be perfect every time. I blew it, they know I blew it, and it’s ok. We’ll get it right next time. With that kind of freedom I can learn to speak from the heart and not worry about whether I did it perfectly or not.
If you prepare, rehearse, and relax, you should find that those 10-20 seconds of speaking between songs should become easier the more you do it. And more meaningful…