The Greatest Communicator

Rick Warren is a GREAT communicator. Now no one can be called The Greatest – at least no one who is living today – but if there is one who could earn the label it is Rick, for he both speaks and writes at the highest level. That is rare indeed to conquer both mediums.

He has written the best seller of all time in The Purpose Driven Life. It has sold 30 million copies! and is still at the top of the best seller lists. He speaks many times each week, and when he speaks people listen. He has spoken at Harvard, in Congress and to the United Nations. From his preaching has grown one of the largest churches in the country – Saddleback Church in California is a phenomenon – and it just keeps on growing. But my purpose is not to laud him here – he more than anyone will say he does need nor seek fame or fortune – but to mention a few insights and teachings we can learn from someone at the peak of the communication mountaintop.

I had the privilege of experiencing the communications power of Rick a couple of days ago at a conference – he spoke in several sessions and did several interesting things. I won’t get into the content here since much was confidential or specific to the group, but it is what he did that is of interest in this post:

  • Owning The Space – Rick Warren just “is.” He never postures, does not give a speech in the usual sense, and has no affectations (except often wearing Hawaiian shirts, but it was a polo shirt this time.)  He just communicates and goes where the spirit leads him. (While being extremely focused.) For example, when he was introduced he immediately said, “It’s such a beautiful day it’s a shame to waste it – let’s take our chairs and go outside (next to the ocean.)” And 150 men picked up their chairs and sat in the sun and listened (with awe) to Rick speak without a microphone. (He has a great, natural, strong voice by the way.) Talk about owning the room as I mentioned in my last post
  • Celebrities vs. Heroes – Rick said we need fewer celebrities and more heroes. Celebrities sacrifice to gain success for themselves. Heroes sacrifice for others.
  • Get a Coach – He said you’ll never get so successful that you don’t need a coach. No successful person would think of not having a coach. (Look at athletes – all the pros have coaches, and they also get video feedback!) He also mentioned three coaches he has, who are his mentors. Everyone should have a mentor and be a mentor.
  • Quotes – Einstein said (paraphrased,) “You can be brilliant, but if you can’t explain it simply, it doesn’t matter how brilliant you are.” And Alvin Toffler, “In a world of rapid change people need islands of stability.”
  • Focus – The secret of a successful life is focus. (Thus The Purpose Driven Life of course.)
  • Persistence – A mushroom grows to maturity in 6 hours. An oak grows to maturity in 60 years. What do you want to be, a mushroom or an oak?
  • Also – no notes, no PowerPoints – but he kept everyone in rapt attention for two hours.

These snippets really don’t do him any kind of justice. Rick Warren is a complete communicator in the written and spoken word, and creates his own ‘Communication Experience.’ If you get the chance, experience him.

5 comments on “The Greatest Communicator

  1. The Wisdom of Warren

    Bert Decker of Decker Communications recently attended a conference with Rick Warren as a speaker and, in a recent blog post, shares the following nuggets and observations about Warrens lecture:
    Owning The Space – Rick Warren just is.&#8…

  2. I’ve heard speak many times. He commands the attention of his audience – whether it is 150 or 4,500. His firm conviction in his topic and his commitment to connect that – whatever it is – to his audience is a craft to learn from.
    Thanks for the post.

  3. Good point Simon.
    The interesting thing with Rick Warren was that he really had a strong voice to carry to 150 people outside for more than an hour without strain. That’s unusual – but as I said in my post – he knows himself, his strengths and limitations.
    My usual rule for microphone is over 40 people use a mic so you don’t strain. There are exceptions.
    Thanks for your thoughts.

  4. Fantastic to hear someone can speak without a Mic. I work as a presentation skills trainer in the UK ( and the number of people who come to me wanting better Mic techniques is just plain silly! They seem to forget that the Mic can only – at best – amplify what you give it. If your voice doesn’t have credability going into the Mic, it won’t have credability coming out of the loudspeakers!
    Yes, obvious I know, but you’d not believe how many so-called professionals can’t understand that!
    We spend a lot of time on our course teaching people to breathe and project, so that they can alos let people take their chairs outside! :)