Make sure you know your theme statement.
Every sermon needs a big idea, and if the sermon is driven by that idea, it will be easier to listen to and more compelling of our listeners response.
First, make sure that your theme is a complete sentence. You need a subject and a complement – what the sermon is talking about and what it is saying about what it is talking about. Only then will you have something to proclaim. Until we have proclaimed something, there is nothing for us to fight over or contend with. Without proclamation, we haven’t really preached.
Second, having understood the theme, we need to make sure that it is driving the sermon. Once you know your theme, you can create a story that will invite people to listen to it. With the establishment of a solid theme, we know what to call people to respond to. Without the theme, application will not make any sense.
All of this assumes a strong connection to the biblical text. If the theme does not describe the intention of the biblical passage, then it will lack authority and it will not be worth preaching.
You may already be well into your preparation. Stop now for a moment and check yourself. Do you have a theme that proclaims the intention of the text and that drives the sermon forward? If not, you know where you need to put your efforts.