One of the key roles of a youth worker is speaking to teenagers. For some this is a gift that comes naturally—lots of youth workers are gifted speakers, while others have had to learn how to communicate effectively to an audience. Regardless of your skill level, these tips will either affirm what you’re already doing or help you push forward in your skills on stage.

Find Your Preferred Outline Style
Everyone has a preferred style of notes—I (Kurt) prefer a simple student outline with a few speaker notes written in the margin. I (Josh) prefer a fully written out manuscript when speaking to teenagers. Experiment with both and you’ll quickly find what works best for you and gives you the most comfort on stage.

TIP: Kurt’s style allows for more spontaneity, while Josh’s ensures what is meant to be said actually gets said!

Practice It Once or Twice By Yourself
Prepare your lesson early enough to provide time to run over the talk out loud as if you were giving it live on stage. Work on your delivery, and add new thoughts and ideas to your outline as you progress through the run-through. So often great lines, dramatic pauses, or a fresh idea come through when you’re practicing. Too often what looks good on paper doesn’t work verbally, so get the kinks out before you’re in front of your students. I (Josh) have made this a non-negotiable part of my lesson prep. Kurt, on the other hand…well, the results speak for themselves!

Ruthlessly Debrief Your Talk
There’s nothing more vulnerable than walking off stage and allowing someone to critique your message…BUT, it’s a key component of improving your delivery. Fight through the pride and let your volunteers, a key leader, or your spouse (man oh man are our spouses honest with us) help you get better each week.

You’ll improve greatly if you open yourself up for honest feedback. The truth of the matter is this: People are critiquing you anyway; why not give them permission to share their observations!

So there are a few ideas to help you teaching teens. Add one in the comments!

This post was written by Josh Griffin and Kurt Johnston and originally appeared as part of Simply Youth Ministry Today free newsletter. Subscribe to SYM Today right here.