Step Three: Phone a Friend
C. S. Lewis and J. R. R. Tolkien critiqued each other’s work during their writing phase. If an extra pair of eyes helped them, imagine what it could do for us. Reach out to a writer friend (or a friend who loves to read) and ask them to read your message and give feedback.
If it’s a biblical message, consider calling on a trusted theologian friend to check it for sound doctrine. I once accidentally wrote a modalistic statement about God in an article, but a wise friend caught it. (That’s when I learned what modalism is, to be honest. I won’t get into that topic in this article—even though it’s a worthy one—because it’s outside the main point of my message.)
Ask your friend(s) to read your message and give feedback on the following:
- Is my opening paragraph engaging and fitting to my main point? Did it feel like it took too long for me to get to the meat of my message?
- What would you say is my main point? (If they get it wrong, you likely weren’t clear or you offered too many main points.)
- Are there sections or sentences that confused you or felt awkward? (We know what we mean to say, but we don’t always convey it correctly—or say what we thought we said.)
- Did I make it clear how to respond to this message? Is my call-to-action obvious and doable?
- Do you have any thoughts and/or suggestions about my message?
(Feel free to share this note from me with your critiquing friends. It might ease their minds if they feel hesitant to critique your work: Writing is hard, and writers receive feedback best when it’s wrapped in encouragement on both ends. As you critique your friend’s piece, share what you love about her piece, followed by what might make it better, and then end with something else she did well. Her heart will thank you.)
To the Chopping Block
After your friend has offered their feedback, go back and edit your message. Here are two particularly helpful editing tips:
- Print it out. There’s something about seeing your message on paper that highlights needed changes.
- Read it out loud. There’s also something about hearing your message read out loud that helps us catch mistakes or recognize better ways of phrasing our ideas. I often ask my husband to read my articles out loud to me.
Prep Your Work and Work Your Prep—God Will Take Care of the Results
Eventually, the time comes to proclaim The End. Resist the urge to edit your piece to death. Swallow your pride, pray again, and send it out into God’s care and providence. However your efforts turn out,don’t stress. God is at work, and He always accomplishes exactly what He intends. He’s the One who changes lives—not us or our message. He never fails.
The next time someone asks you to share a spoken or written message, you now know what to do. Pull out your template (don’t forget to download it below) and feel the icy fingers of fear fall away—or at least lessen their grip—as you prep your work and work your prep. God will take care of the results.