SALT LAKE CITY — We've all been there. You're sitting in sacrament meeting and you look at the clock with a mere five to 10 minutes to go and there is still one speaker left. Whether you're a member of the audience or the concluding speaker, it presents a bit of a conundrum, if not frustration. Either you're in for another several minutes of an already long meeting or you've got to trim your talk down to merely nothing.
To think, all this could have been avoided if the opening speaker had made a few minor adjustments to his or her talk. And with sacrament meeting now lasting just 60 minutes, it is more important that members know how to give a talk that is not only inspiring and informative, but also concise. Here are some tips how to do that.
1. Don't begin with a complaint
It seems a common intro for many talks to go something like this: “When the bishop called asking me to speak, I didn't want to answer the phone …” followed by a few more minutes complaining about your public speaking plight. While it may get a few chuckles, it wastes precious time telling your listeners that you don't want to be there, setting the stage for an inattentive audience.
Just don't do it.
2. Prepare, prepare, prepare
“If ye are prepared, ye shall not fear,” is a phrase used by many church prophets, stemming from Section 38 of the Doctrine and Covenants. While it is used in reference to preparing for the unexpected, it can easily be tied into given a talk.
Prepare your talk entirely so that your thoughts are not scattered, and so you can deliver your message with confidence. Preparation includes research in the scriptures and approved church material as well as prayer to know what thoughts of your own you might share. All of these things should either be written out entirely or in an outline to refer to during your talk.
3. Time yourself2 comments on this story
Part of the preparation also includes timing your talk. Rehearse your talk several times prior to delivering it to the congregation, timing yourself each time. Doing so will allow you to make adjustments based on the time you've been allowed to give your talk.
4. Be aware
Sometimes things don't go as planned. Maybe you ended up taking a detour in your talk that was important, and as a result, you’re unable to use all you have prepared. That's OK, but you need to be aware of the time, and wrap things up where you can.
If you do these things, you can deliver a talk that engages your listeners in a way that will invite the spirit and teach, while allowing time for the other speaker or speakers to do the same.