Your phone rings . . .
It’s an unknown number.
Against your better judgment you answer it.
You hear a familiar voice — a member of the bishopric.
You cross your fingers hoping you are finally going to be called as ward librarian,
but to your dismay you discover . . .
. . . You’ve been asked to speak in church.
It is natural to be nervous about speaking in sacrament meeting. Americans are more afraid of public speaking than heights, spiders, drowning, and clowns. Some fear it more than death. With proper preparation and following these 10 tips, you can gain the confidence and skills you need to give a great talk in church that is worthy of a mic drop.
*A mic drop is the gesture of intentionally dropping one’s microphone at the end of a performance or speech to signal triumph.
Tip #1: Start Preparing Early
“A well prepared speech is already nine-tenths delivered.” -Dale Carnegie, Public Speaking for Success
Think about how a meal tastes when cooked in a microwave versus one that is slowly cooked in a crock pot. Much like a good meal, a speech takes time to grow and develop. Start brainstorming, researching, and talking to friends and family about your topic. You don’t need to spend countless hours developing your speech, but take at least a couple of minutes each day to ponder about it. Pray for inspiration and guidance.
Tip #2: Make an Outline
An outline is a great way to start brainstorming about your topic. Here is a simple outline that I learned in my high school speech class that has never failed me:
Main Point #1
Main Point #2
Main Point #3
You’ll notice that when you listen to or read talks from prophets and apostles, they have a fairly similar structure to their talks.
Tip #3: How to Start Your Talk
This is a friendly reminder that you are not a comedian and we don’t want to hear how the bishop called you the week before to speak. Don’t start your talk with, “i’ve been asked to speak on . . .” There isn’t one right way to start a talk, but you can begin with a relevant story, scripture, or quotation.
Tip #4: Do Not Read Your Entire Talk
It’s important that you engage your audience. That means that you are looking at them and making eye contact. It’s okay to read scriptures, quotations, and stories, but don’t spend too much time away from your audience. If you don’t look at them, then they won’t look at you.
Tip #5: Share Stories
I hate math but here is a simple equation: Stories + Scriptures + Application = Mic Drop
Sometimes it’s hard to pay attention during sacrament meeting. Stories are a great way to maintain the congregation’s interest and help them understand the doctrine and message you are trying to convey. President Monson does a great job incorporating stories into his talks. Stories are especially impactful when they are personal and relatable to the audience.
This is what happens when you don’t share stories.
Or this (Don’t let people’s mind’s wander).
Tip #6: Speak With Passion and Conviction
You should have something that you really want to say. If you are not invested in your topic, then it will show. You don’t need to be too witty or serious, just have real conviction and share your testimony of the principles you are teaching.
(You don’t need to wave your arms and pound your fists to show passion)
Tip #7: Practice, Practice, Practice
Practice giving your talk beforehand. Rehearse in front of the mirror, with a family member, and in front of your dog. Work out your timing. Get feedback and make adjustments where necessary. Remember, “a well prepared speech is already nine-tenths delivered.”
Tip #8: Don’t Go Over Your Allotted Time
Don’t be that guy, just don’t do it.
Tip #9: Follow the Spirit
That does not mean “winging it.” Elder Dallin H. Oaks writes an average of 12 drafts in preparation for a conference address. The spirit will guide you during your preparation. Pray for inspiration and guidance as you write your talk. You are an instrument in the Lord’s hands to inspire and uplift those you will be speaking to.
Tip #10: Drop the Mic
Through proper preparation and engaging your audience, you will create an atmosphere where you can be guided by the spirit and those listening will be more likely to pay attention to your message and be impacted by it. Even though you deserve to drop the mic, don’t actually drop the mic. Most of them are attached to the podium and that would be inappropriate.