This piece is primarily for preachers, but I think it is also applicable to any time someone is speaking in front of a group. Whether it be children in Sunday school, in classes, or to adults, the following is nice to keep in mind.
Sin cannot be taken out men while they are fast asleep. The must be awake, understanding what we are saying and feeling its' force, or we might as well go to sleep too.
"If I see anybody turning around, whispering, nodding, or looking at his watch, I judge that I am not up to the mark, and must by some means win these minds." - Spurgeon
Compel them to stand still awhile and hear what God would speak to their souls.
You must drive the mosquitoes away and secure your people's undistracted thoughts, turning them out of the channel in which they have been running for six days into one suited for the Lord's Day.
1. Always say something worth hearing-give them something striking.
2. Clearly arrange the good material that you give them.
3. Speak plainly.
4. Do not attempt to speak without previous study.
a) People need messages that have been prayed over and laboriously prepared.
b) Vary your voice and its speed.
c) Shift your accent--avoid sing-song.
d) "The glorious doctrines of grace should not be slovenly delivered"
5. Keep the introduction short--make the introduction like a town crier: give notice that you have something for the people to hear; be alive from the very start.
6. Do not repeat yourself--"let there be something fresh in every sentence"
7. Do not be too long--"To shorten sermons, study them better"
8. Lead your people by the Spirit of God into an elevated and devout state of mind.
9. Be interested yourself--"The heart of preaching, the throwing one's soul into the message, is half the battle of gaining and maintaining attention".
10. Supply a good number of illustrations in the message--Avoid overused illustrations and let them grow out of the subject itself.
11. Use "surprise" power--astonish your listeners with something they are not expecting.
12. Use the "pause"--"Give the cradle a jerk, and sleep will flee".
13. Make the people feel that they have an interest in what we are saying to them.
14. Be yourself clothed in the Spirit of God, and then no question about attention will arise.