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How to Use Word and PowerPoint to Craft a Visually-Oriented Sermon Manuscript

I have recently developed a workflow for sermon preparation that places visuals as the dominant force in the communication process. This has been very helpful to me, so I would like to briefly share it with you.


this is the final PowerPoint of the example sermon described in this post.

  1. Study and meditate on the text, obviously.
  2. Think through the sermon as a series of visual blocks of thought (I am an artist, so I literally draw these things in a sketch app on my iPad. But, anyone can think through some use of image, chart, graphic that can be readily found online through a Google image search).
  3. Plot out your sermon as a series of PowerPoint slides with the key images and/or text on each slide before you write anything down. This is similar to storyboarding a film.
  4. Open a Word document and begin writing your sermon frame-by-frame, following the path of your PowerPoint. Type slide 1, hit return, and start writing. (see fig. 1)
  5. Keep the text short and concise for each frame.
  6. When you have finished your first draft in Word, check your total document word count (I preach at roughly 100 words per minute, so a 15-minute sermon should be around 1500 words).
  7. Open your PowerPoint document (because you’ve already made it, right?) and click View>Master>Notes Master (alt-command-3 on the Mac) (see fig. 2)
  8. Reduce the size of the slide image at the top of the page.
  9. Select all the text in the body and increase the font size to 18.
  10. Close the master view.
  11. Click View>Notes Page (command-3 on Mac)
  12. Copy the text from your Word document from each slide section and paste it into the notes text for that slide.
  13. Format the text to emphasize parts of the sermon for quick visual recognition while preaching. (see figs. 3, 4, 5)
  14. Print the PowerPoint Notes pages as a booklet (this is a feature on our copier/printer in the office. It will take each letter-size notes page, reduce it to a half page, and bookletize the whole document front and back. It’s like magic!).
  15. Caution: Make sure you print the Notes pages, not the slides!!!!
  16. Fold your bookletized notes, staple them in the seam if you like, insert in Bible, and viola, a handy preaching manuscript!
  17. Print the Word document for your projectionist. S/he will thank you for the clarity and ease with which to follow you as you preach.

Here is a PDF of an entire manuscript done in this way. This was printed as a PDF directly from PowerPoint. It is not the reduced bookletized form. That is done through the printer. You could skip steps 14 & 16 and work off of the 8.5×11 notes, especially if you preach from a pulpit or podium. I don’t, so that’s why I do the insert format.

Let me know if this is helpful, or just the workings of a crazy artist-preacher.

 

fig. 1 write the text of your sermon slide-by-slide

fig. 1
write the text of your sermon slide-by-slide

fig. 2 modify the Notes Master

fig. 2
modify the Notes Master

fig. 3

fig. 3

fig. 4

fig. 4

fig. 5

fig. 5

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Comments
  • Rev. Stephen L Bowie April 6, 2018 at 8:18 am

    This is very helpful, esp. to another visually (and audio-ly) oriented pastor-preacher. Thank you.

    Your graphic novel of the gospel is amazing. Is it available to dowload/purchase?

    In Christ,

    Steve

    • stevethomason April 6, 2018 at 2:53 pm

      Thanks. There is nothing for print yet available. I’ll let you know when it is.

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