Have you ever fallen asleep during sacrament meeting? Don’t worry, it happens to the best of us. However, you don’t want to be the one putting others to sleep while you share a message—as if you weren’t nervous enough giving a talk to the whole ward! So if you have to speak in church next Sunday and want to do it well and keep people from sleeping, then here are a few do’s and don’ts that you may want to keep in mind while preparing your talk.
Don’t for Sacrament Meeting Talks
Public speaking is one of the most common fears. We are afraid of public censure, of feeling humiliated, of boring your audience, the list goes on and on. Even though speaking in church is a low-pressure situation, for some it can be paralyzing. Here are some don’ts to remember as you prepare to address the congregation
Throw Your Talk Together
The key to public speaking is preparation. When you are writing a speech, be sure to spend time thinking about the topic before hand. Maybe do some preliminary research a few days before Saturday to get your thoughts in order. Once you’ve done some research write the talk as early in the week as you can.
I’ll be realistic—sometimes the best time really is Saturday afternoon. People get busy, and Saturday just works. Just remember that the best sacrament meeting talks are prepared with the Spirit. It is difficult to have the Spirit when exhausted after a long day of working in the yard or when stressed by getting the kids ready for church that morning. Preparation is key to having a meaningful talk.
The people you are addressing are your friends, or, at worst, your acquaintances. Both you, as the speaker, and them, as the audience, want the same thing: to feel the Spirit (and maybe enjoy themselves along the way). They want you to succeed. They are rooting for you. Keep in mind that breaking the ice can help you and the audience relax a little bit before starting your talk. This will help you diminish stress you may be feeling.
If you are still stressed out about sacrament, here is one thought that has kept me going through many a sacrament talk: the audience won’t remember what you say tomorrow. Now that might be a little unbelievable, but it’s true. Think back to the last sacrament talk you remember. Can you even think of one? Sure, you can remember who talked but not what they talked about. It’s the ultimate de-stressor.
Do’s for Sacrament Meeting Talks
You made it! You’ve written your talk, and you’ve managed to get up to the podium and speak around the giant lump in your throat and butterflies in your stomach—What next?
Visualize Your Success
The mind is powerful. Studies consistently show that those who visualize themselves rocking their interview/performance/presentation are not only more confident during said event, but they also perform better. Confidence is key. Fake it till you make it. These and other sayings revolve around the same concept: if you believe you will perform well, you will.
Take a moment the night before your talk to envision yourself giving a great speech. Your opening joke goes over well, your stories hold the audience riveted and you barely need to look at your note cards. That confidence will bleed over into how you actually perform and present yourself the next day.
Stay on Topic
Personal stories and experiences are a wonderful addition to sacrament meeting talks and show how the gospel has applied in your life. However, having tangents that take up the majority of your talking time isn’t always the best way to teach others. Be sure to consistently go back to your topic, don’t make your stories too long and make sure that those stories actually apply to the topic.
People will listen to you more easily if you are personable and natural. It is difficult to be natural when you are nervous and stiff. Remember that these people are your friends and talk to them as such. Keep your tone knowledgeable, interesting, and friendly—like you are talking to your good friend about your topic. People respond well when you open up to them.
Look Up and Speak Clearly
It is good to come prepared with note cards to look at, but it is better for the ward members to see your face. Look up once in a while. If you are looking down the whole time then not only are you speaking towards the ground (which often results in mumbling), but it looks like you aren’t very confident in your words. Look up, if not at the people then at least at the back wall. Smile, take a deep breath, and let your talk begin.