If you want to know what it looks like and sounds like when someone literally embodies their brand promise, and then delivers it with power, look no further than the sermon preached by The Most Reverend Michael Curry, Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church, at the Royal Wedding.
Three key points:
1 – The Bishop knew he would have a global audience of over one billion people. The BBC is now estimating that viewership world-wide was 1.9 billion. For those of us who are public speakers, this is a once in a lifetime opportunity that we would metaphorically kill to have.
Bishop Curry kept the message focused: the power of love. That’s it. Everything he said related back to that one point of focus. He began with it, took people on a 13-minute journey, and came full circle to end with it: the power of love.
The message, though unabashedly Christian, was all-encompassing, inclusive, and inviting. It was a message of revolution, of liberation, and of all of us as one human family.
2 – The Bishop did not change who he was to fit the occasion. Like any good speaker, he read the room, and gave people entry points to climb aboard the train, at first through his steady, measured tones, and then later, through humor. But he was absolutely true to himself from beginning to end, meaning that he delivered the sermon with complete authenticity.
3 – The Bishop let his passion shine through. In the quiet moments, and in the exuberant ones, his passion ruled the day. The passion and the fire with which he spoke could not be ignored. You understood, on a gut level, that this man believed what he said.
It was also a master class in public speaking, and anyone who speaks professionally can benefit from listening to it, regardless of your faith. He speaks at an elite level because of his passion, but also because of the depth of his knowledge. He may have had notes, but he never had to fish for a scripture or hymn to quote, because those words are literally part of him.
Voice modulation, pacing, the repetitive use of power phrases, all these techniques and more were present in this sermon. At one point near the end, sensing that some people may be overwhelmed by his style, announced “…and with this I will sit down. We’ve got to get y’all married!” Harry and Meghan laughed, and laughter could be heard reverberating throughout St. George’s Chapel.
It was brilliant. He had them back in the palm of his hand and could finish as powerfully as he began.
Asked to sum up the sermon after the service was ended, The Most Reverend and Right Honorable Justin Welby, Archbishop of Canterbury, who officiated the marriage vows themselves, said:
“This was raw God, and that’s the business.”
What will you do to connect to your passion today and then share it, with fire?