Speaking by the Numbers: Enneagram Wisdom for Teachers, Pastors, and Communicators, By Sean Palmer
Speaking by the Numbers
  • Length: 192 pages
  • Dimensions: 5.5 × 8.5 in
  • Published: May 10, 2022
  • Imprint: IVP
  • Item Code: 4166
  • ISBN: 9780830841660

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It's not just what you say, but how you say it. Good communicators know this, but it's often easier said than done. Teachers, leaders, and speakers are often left bewildered, wondering why the content that was so carefully planned and delivered seems to fall flat with the audience. The art of communication requires more than the transfer of information; it both connects with and engages the hearer. To communicate well, speakers must understand both their audience and themselves.

Speaking by the Numbers offers a strategy that combines communication principles with Enneagram wisdom to help leaders, pastors, and teachers understand how to convey content in ways that both inspire and connect with their audiences. Using the Enneagram wisdom of triads and stances, communicators can learn insight into the ways that various Enneagram numbers receive and process information. Sean Palmer draws from his extensive experience as a public speaker to develop communication strategies that lead to connection, transformation, and mobilization of audiences. Providing real examples of speeches and messages he has given, Palmer shows how he uses the Enneagram to craft a message that connects with his audience.

A healthy marriage of Enneagram wisdom and communication skill can help us speak with clarity into the heart of where people live, love, and experience life.

"Speaking by the Numbers is the book you need to learn to make the most of any opportunity you are given to share your thoughts, ideas, knowledge, wisdom, desires, hopes, and dreams. I hope you will read it from cover to cover and then return to it time and again, knowing that you will learn something new every time."

Suzanne Stabile, from the foreword

"I want to put this book in the hands of every speaker in my life, and my only frustration is that it didn't yet exist when I was fumbling my way through my first few years as a very rookie speaker—every audience I stood in front of would have benefited from my reading this wise and helpful book. The brilliance of Sean's mind, the crackling intensity of his personality, and his passion for both the Enneagram and the craft of public speaking leap off every page."

Shauna Niequist, author of Present Over Perfect

"Sean gets it. The most effective motive for any communication is compassion. Compassion puts the focus back on the receiver by aiming to ensure the receiver's uniqueness and needs are taken into account. The Enneagram is a tool that helps us address the uniqueness of every human heart and make certain that the good news of God's kingdom is best received. I highly recommend this work for preachers and teachers who seek to expand their capacity to reach people through words."

AJ Sherrill, Anglican priest and author of The Enneagram for Spiritual Formation

"Sean's robust experience in public speaking and storytelling, combined with his mastery of Enneagram wisdom, gives readers a helpful guide to communicating more effectively. Sean's shared wisdom is a gift for speakers of all kinds. His humor and candor make this book an accessible and meaningful contribution to the larger body of Enneagram writing."

Hunter Mobley, Enneagram teacher and author

"There's a big difference between Enneagram information and Enneagram wisdom. Sean helps us cultivate much-needed wisdom with practical insight on how to effectively engage all nine types and connect with each effectively. This is a great resource for those who speak, teach, or communicate with groups on a regular basis."

Drew Moser, author of The Enneagram of Discernment and cohost of Fathoms: An Enneagram Podcast

"Seeing the world differently will help you speak more effectively. The Enneagram helps us recognize how we and our hearers see the world, and that recognition can sharpen our speech. Well-aware of the pitfalls and promise of the Enneagram, Palmer artfully distills and demonstrates insights into speaking to three different kinds of listeners who see the world in three distinct ways. Whether you're speaking at a board meeting or preaching to thousands, this book will make you better at understanding how others think, feel, and function, which will, in the end, not only make you a better communicator but also a better human."

Glenn Packiam, associate pastor of New Life Church in Colorado Springs and author of Worship and the World to Come

"To call Sean both a peer and a friend is a joy, and this book is evidence as to why. A book on speaking that consistently honors the needs of hearers, the inner makeup of the speaker, and the Spirit behind it all is a true and timely gift. Sean's honesty, grit, and grace are inspiring no matter where or how you communicate. This book is a truly helpful resource for communicators of every sort and style."

Casey Tygrett, spiritual director and author of As I Recall: Discovering the Place of Memories in Our Spiritual Life

"The art of communication is connecting to the heart of each person listening. Between these pages, Sean teaches us how to do just that. With practical tips and real-life stories, Sean reminds us to communicate with empathy and craft each message with the listener in mind. Whether you're speaking to an audience of one or one million, this book will take your speaking and writing to the next level."

Holly Tate, senior vice president of growth at Leadr

"Sean Palmer combines his unique insights into communication with hard-earned Enneagram knowledge to bring a spectacular primer for anyone who desires to sharpen their skills. By effectively weaving narrative and instruction, Speaking by the Numbers equips communicators to tailor their message for the greatest possible understanding of their intended audience. If meaningful communication is your goal, this book is a must-read for you."

Rhesa Higgins, founding director of Eleven:28 Ministries

"Speaking well is constituted by more than being a good speaker, because if our speaking is not tuned to our audience's listening, even our most lucid and beautiful words can sound dull, harsh, or unintelligible. Using the uncommon insight gifted us by the Enneagram, Sean Palmer coaches us to become speakers who communicate in many keys, who take responsibility for both our speaking and our audience's listening. A wonderful read."

Austin Fischer, pastor of Vista Community Church and author of Faith in the Shadows

"Every speaker, teacher, and content creator needs a Sean Palmer coaching them. In Speaking by the Numbers, Sean combines the skills of a master communicator, the wisdom of the Enneagram, the encouragement of a star coach, and the heart of a pastor to equip all of us to make our biggest impact possible. This book will not only help you connect more authentically with your audience but will build up your confidence so you can give the best talk of your life."

Kadi Cole, author of Developing Female Leaders and Find Your Leadership Voice in 90 Days

"The speeches we love the most are not the ones that tell us something new. Rather they are the ones that say what we've always felt to be true but couldn't articulate ourselves. Communicators must connect not just with what they personally have always felt to be true but with what their audience has always felt to be true. Sean Palmer will help you do just that in this book. Using the wisdom of the Enneagram and his years of experience, he gives us the skills and techniques to be the communicators that the audiences we serve need us to be."

Luke Norsworthy, senior minister of Westover Hills Church in Austin, Texas, and author of Befriending Your Monsters

"If you're looking for a book about public speaking, Sean offers a clear and practical guide to help you better understand your audience and speak to people who hear differently from you. If you're looking for a book about the Enneagram, Sean provides a deeper focus on the triads and stances, and he presents a unique perspective on how one might utilize that information in a professional setting."

T.J. Wilson, Around the Circle podcast

"Good speakers misstep when we make our speech all about ourselves. Sean reminds those who would be great communicators that our speaking is about our audience—how they see the world and why they act on our words. There is no better guide for understanding the kaleidoscopically unique mind of each of your listeners than the Enneagram, and there's no better book about the Enneagram and communication than this one."

Jeff Cook, cohost of the Around the Circle Podcast and lecturer at the University of Northern Colorado

"As a preacher and pastor of a multiracial, multicultural, and intergenerational church, communicating is often a daunting task when considering the variety of cultures, stories, and realities of the community I regularly serve. Speaking by the Numbers presses us to understand why centering the diversity of our hearers is just as significant as the work of knowing ourselves. Utilizing the Enneagram, Palmer offers a practical and timely tool for any public speaker who truly wants to be heard."

Gail Song Bantum, lead pastor of Quest Church, Seattle

Read an Excerpt


Foreword by Suzanne Stabile

1. The Enneagram Knowledge You Need
2. Speaking to the Dependent Stance
3. A Model for Speaking to the Dependent Stance
4. Speaking to the Aggressive Stance
5. A Model for Speaking to the Aggressive Stance
6. Speaking to the Withdrawing Stance
7. A Model for Speaking to the Withdrawing Stance
Conclusion: Speaking to the Centers



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Sean Palmer

Sean Palmer is the teaching pastor at Ecclesia Houston, a speaker, and an executive coach. He is the author of Unarmed Empire and a contributing writer to The Voice Bible. Sean is vice-chair of the Missio Alliance board. He and his wife, Rochelle, live in Houston, Texas, with their two daughters.

Listen to him speak with Suzanne Stabile on The Enneagram Journey podcast.

Read his article on what it's like to be an Enneagram Three at Enneagram Today.