How to Give the Best Sacrament Talk of Your Life
Ready to Speak in Sacrament Meeting?
Imagine this: you’re standing at the pulpit giving a sacrament talk. You’ve lost your place in your notes, there are five minutes left for you to fill, and your knees are shaking.
For some members of the Church this is what it feels like to give a sacrament talk. But it doesn’t have to!
Today we’re going to go back to basics and learn 5 crucial steps that will help you give the best sacrament talk of your life!
Now imagine that a member of the bishopric has just asked you to give a talk on the topic of prayer. Where do you go from that point? How do you get started?
How Do I Want to Help?
For step number one, you need to ask yourself this question: “What do I want people to do after I give my talk?” Your goal in speaking shouldn’t just be to get it over with, it should be to help people change for the better. So as you prepare your talk on prayer you should begin with a goal of how you want your ward members’ prayers to change because of what they learn and feel from your talk. This will help you know how to prepare the rest of your talk!
Step number two is to ponder on stories you can share. Stories are the part of a talk that people engage with and remember the most– so spend a good amount of time thinking about them. In our imaginary example you would spend some time thinking about personal stories, family stories, scriptures stories, and even stories in literature about the topic of prayer. Keep these stories in mind as you begin to prepare your talk.
3 Main Points
In step number three you will break your talk up into about three main points. This makes talk preparation easier because you are approaching your topic from multiple angles. It also helps those who will listen to stay focused as you break your talk down into mini-topics. How do you break your talk up? A basic outline you could use for most topics is 1) why this gospel principle is important in God’s plan, 2) why we sometimes struggle with this gospel principle, and 3) how we can improve the way we live this gospel principle. In other words, you’ll talk about why it matters, why it’s hard, and how to do better!
Write It Out
Step number four is to start writing your talk. Some people like to just give their talk off the cuff, but in general it’s a good idea to plan what you’ll say in advance. Public speaking nerves can sometimes make it hard to remember what we had planned to say, so reading your talk helps a lot!
How do you plan out what to write? Your talk should include three important parts:
- First, a powerful beginning. If it all possible (and it’s always possible) don’t start your talk with an apology, a standard joke, or even by sharing your name; that part is in the printed program and the bishopric member just said it! Instead, start with a powerful story, filled with engaging details, that will immediately catch everyone’s attention.
- Second, your main points which have been filled with engaging details. Take your three main points and flesh them out with details such as great stories, quotes, or scriptures.
- And third, a powerful ending. The last thing you say is what people remember most, so end in an engaging way. For example, you could share a powerful story of how you gained a testimony of the principle you’re speaking about.
Practice, Practice, Practice!
And the last thing you need to do when planning a talk is step number five: Practice, practice, practice. The more you practice the calmer you will feel as you deliver your talk. As you practice what you’ll say, make sure you also practice how you say it by doing three important things: looking up, speaking slowly, and speaking with feeling (not in a monotone).
So there you have it! You are going to give the best talk of your life with just five simple steps:
- Ask yourself how you want your talk to help people change
- Ponder on stories you can share
- Break your talk up into about 3 main points
- Write your talk out, and
- Practice, practice, practice
And keeping all of that in mind, don’t forget this: the Spirit is the best teacher you will have. So while these tips have hopefully helped, if you feel the Spirit nudging you in a different direction, do what the Spirit says!