Focus Your Magic

Focus Your Magic

Making Speaking Magical is all about focus

If you don’t know what you’re focused on as a communicator then your audience doesn’t stand a chance remembering what you said. You need one idea to get across, not 7, not 3, just 1. If you don’t have your one focused idea there is no amount of Magical Tricks that will help your audience be transformed by your message.

Connect Them

Connect Them

Connecting them is all about building up your credibility with the audience. 

This trick, like Captivate Them and Teach Them, is rooted in the great work of Aristotle. He clarified the best ways for a speaker to persuade their audience of anything is to include Pathos (emotion), Logos (logic), and a strong dose of Ethos (credibility). You don’t get to control this one, it is completely on the audience to determine whether the communicator is trustworthy and credible

Show Them

Show Them

The brain loves visuals. 

Since our goal is to transform our audience, we have to be able to get an idea to stick in their mind - to go from short-term memory into long-term memory and hopefully change the way they live.  I believe it is up to you, the communicator, to help this one talk stand out in their memory from all the rest.

Pictures help ideas stand out. 

Ask Them

Ask Them

Time after time the people would come up to Jesus and ask him a question only to have him ponder it, then throw the responsibility back on them to answer. 

Jesus seemed to find joy and purpose in asking questions so the people could express what they already understood about their lives. 

Are you able to do the same with your audience? 

Teach Them

Teach Them

Teaching them is an immediate grounding technique.

Communicators shy away from attempting to teach any logical facts because they are not ‘experts’ on the subject they are talking about, or alternatively, they are experts and feel like it is in everyone’s best interest to dump as much information on the audience as possible in the time frame. Neither one of these approaches makes for a particularly memorable moment. 

Surprise Them

Surprise Them

Surprising them is all about creating a extra-ordinary moment together

We never forget the moments that surprised us most. These were out of the ordinary so our brains took a snapshot to remember it. The moment captured in a single frame. It might just be one specific picture you have, but that picture helps you retrieve the rest of the moment at will.

Now, what if it was possible to harness that power as a communicator? How can you intentionally capture your audience’s attention for a single moment causing a significant memory to stick?

Involve Them

Involve Them

Involving them is all about inviting your audience into the process of discovery

Our brains can retain information when delivered audibly, but the amount of that retention skyrockets when the brain has had to participate in some way to understand the information. When this happens our brains create new connections & pathways to make sense of what it has experienced; the brain can literally be transformed by good communication.

Captivate Them

Captivate Them

Good communication means telling a good story. Stories engage the mind, creating incredible activity as the brain attempts to build the scenario in our imagination; but more than that, stories engage the heart and soul. 

Captivating them is all about emotions. If you can get your audience to feel something, you're creating something magical.

Thoughts That Cling

Thoughts That Cling

As a speaker, you can use memory to your advantage: you can help the audience recall an emotional experience (which we will discuss in the next post, Captivate Them), or more importantly, you can communicate with the intention to create a new memory for them. Consider the weight of that - you have the opportunity to plant an idea in their mind that was not present before you came along. 

Saying 'NO' is Liberating

Saying 'NO' is Liberating

The best no is said with confidence. 

This is not based on insecurities or disillusionment but because the thing you're facing is simply not what you're made for. You say 'no' to that fast food, another night of binge-watching Netflix, or spending another moment in an place or relationship that is destructive. You are starting to get an idea of what you ARE made for in this life, so you begin to say 'no' to anything distracting you from that.

Teamwork - Together and Alone

Teamwork - Together and Alone

I couldn’t do the ‘alone’ thing forever. It works best when I know that there IS a team with me, somewhere, that I can call on for help and support. And I bet that’s how most of us really are. Regardless of how you perform at your best, whether that’s with a team or on your own, you need to know that at any given moment you can be just you, or you can be part of this team, listening to, learning from, and laughing with others to create something amazing.

Today is a great day for something new!

Today is a great day for something new!

Rhythm, and routine - action, rest. Some of us build such a routine into our lives there is no room for something new. In fact, we freak out when something new is added to the routine, like a line of ants marching to the hill we move around the 'thing' and keep the line going. 

Maybe that disruption in your life is there so you can discover something new today. 

Obliterating My Reading Goals (Books 1-8)

Last year I decided that I wanted to read more.  Because I have lived with the assumption that everyone else reads more than I do, and sometimes absurd comparisons like that can lead to positive life changes. So, I'm gonna read. 

I ended up reading more than 12 books (13 to be exact), which is more than I've ever read in a calendar year in my 32 years of life. 

THIS year I chose to set a goal. A goal that would push me further, but also a goal that I could absolutely obliterate if I really wanted to.  And also, I suppose, in the process of demolishing my goals I would get to read a lot of really great books that help my brain be better and stuff. 

The goal - Read 18 books. 1.5 per month.

Or, more likely, 2 for the first ten months and 16 through November and December. 

In January I finished 6 books!  (full disclosure, two of them I began reading in 2015, but this is my goal, and I'm excited, so shut it!)

Since then I've managed to find space to read and listen to some books that I have wanted to dive into for quite a while now.  I think there are two reasons this is succeeding, and they apply to just about any goal you might have:

a) I have to choose [reading] instead of other activities.

Which include but are not limited to: watching Brooklyn Nine-Nine, watching baseball, sleeping, scrolling Instagram, giggling at Jimmy Fallon vids, and staring aimlessly at the ceiling.

b) I have been rewarded by [reading] in ways I didn't know I could be. 

Which include but are not limited to: reading to my wife (Harry Potter), learning how to talk about the Bible to my kids (Telling the Story), and growing a passion for a need I was unaware of (It's Not Okay With Me).

Here's the first 8 books I read this year. 

*With a tiny review and completely objective score attached*

1. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, J.K. Rowling - (4/5), I am loving these books, and this one was really exciting with the tournament and all, but I get to the end and feel like I could've saved some time and just read the last 3 chapters to capture everything that happened that year at Hogwarts. Maybe that's normal, but it cost Rowling on my scoring system. 

2. Practicing Greatness, Reggie McNeal - (2/5) I read this for my Leadership Development class, it's another classic case of a blog post that was extended into a book. Could have been much shorter, there were a couple of great chapters, but too many words. 

3. It's Not Okay With Me, Janine Maxwell - (5/5) I don't know how to talk about this book, the stories are gut-wrenching, the challenge is immense, and a response is required. I know and care about hurting children in the slums of Kenya more than I ever have. 

4. The War of Art, Steven Pressfield - (5+/5) *Second Reading* The easiest to read, most underlined, and most kick in the butt challenging book I know. If you want to not do what you're made for, keep not reading this book. Otherwise, get it, now. 

5. Flesh, Hugh Halter - (4.5/5) A great way to look at how we think about Church. Halter is bold and seems to be the real deal, living out what he's talking about. He almost has inspired me to be a bi-vocational pastor...not yet though. 

6. Telling the Story, Peter Enns - (5/5) I'm so very thankful for this book at a time when we are trying to figure out how to talk to our kids about the Bible in a non-fundamentalist way. Enns suggests that we start with Jesus, and always point to Jesus. It seems so obvious, right? 

7. Covenant & Kingdom, Mike Breen - (3/5) Love the practicality of reading the Bible through this lens, but he could have cut the book in half. 

8. Messy Spirituality, Mike Yaconelli - (5/5) Such a beautiful display of story and truth that speaks beyond academic knowledge to the depth of your soul.  Reminds me a lot of Brennan Manning; we are a mess and in the mess is where we find God, so deal with it.


I understand that for some of you, this is not a big deal at all. It would be like me trying to have a marathon runner be excited that I walked to pick up the mail today; it's a good start. And I agree, it is a good start. I doubt I'll ever be someone that reads 100 books in a year or more, I don't think I have to be. So, today, I'm celebrating the small goals, and the fact that I'm on pace to beat my big goal! 

Get out there, set a goal, and move towards it. 


By the way, I will post the next 8 books shortly. 

Currently I'm reading a few different ones: The Alchemist (FINALLY), Love Does, The King Jesus Gospel, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, and Show Your Work. 

What are you reading?!