How to Prepare and Deliver a Terrific LDS (Mormon) Sacrament Talk

These Basic Guidelines for the Clueless and the Competent Can Help You!

sacrament_large.jpg
A Church meeting in Ghana, Africa. Photo courtesy of © 2007 Intellectual Reserve, Inc. All rights reserved.

Everybody gives talks in Mormondom! If you join the Church, you will need to learn how to give talks. There is no need to stress. The following ideas will guide you through the process.

It is never too early to begin preparation. Start preparing your talk the instant you are asked to give it. Write down the date and topic, if you have been assigned one. Put it on notes and attach them to your mirror, refrigerator, desk, phone, computer and anywhere else to remind you.

Once you are sure you cannot forget about your talk, start the actual preparation.

Make Sure You Prepare Spiritually

Preparing spiritually is crucial. The first thing to do is pray for Heavenly Father's help. You will need it throughout the process. So, pray early and pray often. He wants to help you. You just have to let him.

Ask for help in general, but also ask for it specifically. If you are unsure about your topic or need help on what to present, just ask Him. You need help with the process, but you also need help with the content. He knows what the members need to hear. Let Him inspire you.

Thoughts and ideas will occur to you. This is His help. Write them down and remember them. Also, He will prompt you on what to focus on and where to spend your time. Just pay attention to these promptings. After all, He wants you to succeed!

Topic Preparation Should Take Up Most of Your Time

Most of your time should be spent thinking, reading and pondering your topic.

1. Decide on a topic.

If you have been assigned a topic, some of your work is done. If you have not, you will need to generate one. Inspiration is crucial here.

Find somewhere you can study, think and pray. Ask Him what you should do. Ponder and reflect on possible ideas. He will guide you to one you can feel comfortable about.

If nothing feels right, keep at it until something inside you clicks.

2. Narrow your topic

If you have an assigned topic, it is probably hopelessly broad like prayer, temple marriage, scripture study and so forth. If you picked your own, you will still have to limit it.

To narrow your topic, you will need to decide on one of the following goals:

  • Inform
  • Inspire
  • Motivate

For example, if your topic is prayer and most people in your ward are converts, you may have to educate them on how to pray properly. This is informing. If they know how to pray, but simply need to be convinced of its importance to them, then your job is to inspire. If they are slothful, focus on motivating them to do better.

Prayer is still pretty broad. Narrow it by focusing on something like time of day.  You could narrow it to prayer in the mornings or evenings or having a prayer in your heart throughout the day. You could also emphasize remembering to pray about little, as well as big, things.

If prayer was assigned to you as a topic, try and pull out of leaders what they want you to accomplish with it. They probably have the ideas in their heads, but they may not have conveyed their intentions to you. For example, they may want members to make their prayers more meaningful.

3. Read up and Study!

Start with scriptures and read everything you can find. Shift to church curriculum materials like lesson manuals and General Conference addresses. Finish up by reading church magazines.

Take notes and write down your ideas. This is where inspiration from Heavenly Father will come to you. Ideas, stories and points will leap out at you.

4. Organize Your Ideas and Narrow Things Further

Most talks are too broad and people try and cover too much. You will have to reject some of your ideas. Do not worry, you will use them all sometime in the future. No preparation is ever wasted.

A nice narrow topic could be the following:

  • How to pray about the little things throughout the day.
  • Make morning prayers easy with the following ideas.
  • Make sure all your prayers contain gratitude by thanking Him.

    Organize Your Talk to Make it Easy to Deliver

    If you narrowed your talk down to making morning prayers easy, then support that main topic idea with about three points that follow logically.

    • Pray as soon as you roll out of bed.
    • Pray before you eat.
    • Pray during your commute to work, school, etc.

    Illustrate these three points with some scriptures and stories that describe them.

    Physically Prepare Your Talk

    Once you accomplish the above, you are ready to physically prepare your talk. That means putting it in some form you can access while giving it in Sacrament meeting.

    This is not a time to rely on digital media. There are too many ways it can fail you, although a digital backup is recommended.

    Consider doing the following:

    • Print or type it in a large font, but do not use all caps. Caps can be hard to read. Lower-case is easier on the eye.
    • Use an easy to read font, one you are used to. If you are young, that means something like Ariel. If you are old, use Times New Roman.
    • Put three spaces between the lines. Single and double space can be too dense and you are more apt to lose your place while speaking.
    • Color code your paper and give yourself other visual cues like [Pause] and [End of quote]. This is very personal so use what you think you need.
    • Write it in a conversational tone. In other words, write like you speak, not like you write. It will sound more natural.
    • Stick to your time! This means timing yourself ahead of time.

    Avoid the Typical Problems

    Do not rehearse what you were doing when you were asked to speak. Do not tell the audience you are nervous and do not start with a dictionary definition of your term. These are unnecessary and just waste time.

    Besides, this is not about you. Take yourself out of it and stick to your topic. Do not draw attention to yourself in that matter. Draw attention to your topic.

    Deliver it With Confidence

    If you are prepared and have the spirit with you, you will succeed.

    Remember, you are Heavenly Father's conduit in teaching His children for this small time period.

    If He is with you, you cannot fail!