St Andrew’s United Reformed Church, Cheam
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St Andrew’s • Cheam

Make yourself heard

Man speaking

We have had a number of our members saying that they cannot hear clearly the words being spoken from the lectern in church. It is important that you get your message, whether it be prayers, readings or sermon, across to the congregation, so here are some tips to help you achieve that goal.

Speak more slowly. There are two advantages to speaking more slowly. The first is that more people are likely to hear what you are saying, and secondly, if they are not straining to hear you they will have the time and the capacity to think about what you are saying. As a quick test, if you read the Lord’s Prayer it should take not less than 35 seconds.

Speak up. When you speak, imagine you are talking to someone at the other side of a room. The presence of a microphone may tempt you to speak softly, perhaps because you don’t want to come over too loudly on the church sound system, but don’t let that worry you! The team at the back can easily turn you down if you are too loud, but amplifying you excessively causes the nasty noises known as feedback.

Speak clearly. This means speaking at a fairly even volume, and an even pace, enunciating words clearly and not running words together as you might in everyday speech. Don’t drop your voice at the end of a sentence as you might in normal conversation. Listen to the BBC news for good examples of people who speak clearly.

Look up. Remember that many people who are older or hard of hearing rely on seeing your mouth as you speak as an aid to understanding what you are saying. Don’t forget that you are speaking to the congregation and not just addressing the front pew. Of course you will have to look down from time to time, but try to look up at least at the end of a paragraph or verse. If you are tall, you may find it easier to do this if you don’t use the step behind the fixed lectern: it is easily moved aside.

Practice. It isn’t always necessary to rehearse something you’re going to say in church, but do make sure beforehand that you know how you’re going to pronounce difficult names and words. You may find it easiest to slow down when speaking words or names that are unfamiliar to you.

Ask for feedback. After the service, ask someone whether they could hear you clearly. You could ask a friend or someone who is hard of hearing or uses a hearing aid.