Members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints can at some point expect “the call.” No, not a calling, but a call from a member of the bishopric asking him or her to give a talk in sacrament meeting.
For many, this call can bring up all sorts of fears and anxieties. These fears can be manifested in what they say and how they deliver their talk. Author Bill Mansell provides some tips in his new book, “Yikes! I Have to Talk in Church: How to Prepare and Deliver a Great Sacrament Meeting Talk” (MindPerk, Inc., $14.95), that can help members go from panic to confidence. Here are a few:
1. Narrow your topic: Topics for sacrament meeting talks are usually broad. Narrow the topic down to a specific area you find interesting and personal. It makes writing your talk less overwhelming.
Generally, you have 15 minutes for a talk. Use those minutes to focus on an area within that topic that you are passionate and enthusiastic about.
2. Open up: Don't just give the facts. Share your unique perspective, testimony and application of the topic.
Many of the talks given during general conference include personal stories from the speaker's life. Use your own personal stories to make your talk interesting, memorable and to connect emotionally to the congregation. Do be careful about sharing experiences that are too personal or sacred to you.
3. Practice: Practicing your talk several times beforehand can help get rid of nervousness. When people are nervous, they may talk too fast or mumble through their talk. Take the time to practice in front of a mirror or in front of a small group.
Practice speaking clearly, looking at your audience and considering your body language. The key to confidence is practice.
4. Be yourself: Don't try to be someone that you're not. Don't try to be humorous for the sake of being funny if that doesn't come naturally for you. Try to be as close to your natural self as possible.
Tequitia Andrews has written about parenting and family issues for several newspapers, magazines and websites.