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Preach by the Spirit

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I'm a writer, editor, and linguist. The words I choose and how I organize them are very important to me. That is why I prefer expressing myself through writing over any other method.

I also enjoy public speaking because sharing my insights is exciting. I prepare my speeches, talks, and lessons in advance so I know exactly what I'm going to say. Church talks I always write out word for word to ensure I don't forget anything and so it's coherent and cohesive. As a teen, I would practice my talks until I practically had them memorized.

Due to the increased focus on making the Sabbath a delight and sacrament meeting more spiritually fulfilling, our branch president told us he wanted us to have only an outline for our talks and to lean on the Spirit for guidance. Only once have I ever used just an outline. It was September 2006 in my college ward for a talk about how to prepare for general conference, a topic easy to expound with just notes.

Two weeks ago I was asked to speak in sacrament meeting the following Sunday (last week). I decided to try the new preparation style since the topic was simple. I read the talk several times and highlighted on my tablet the portions I wanted to read. I inserted short notes and a couple extra quotes. It didn't take me long to finish. I felt like I wasn't as prepared as normal.

I decided to fast that Sunday to be closer to the Spirit, especially since I also had to teach Sharing Time and my son's Primary class. I asked my husband for a blessing the night before as well. Once at church, I was very nervous and emotional.

I started with the disclaimer that I hadn't written out my talk, so I would probably fumble over my words. I did a little in the beginning. After that, it went very well. I never cry during talks and only rarely during testimonies, but I got very emotional this time during certain parts. I shared more personal experiences and applications than I normally do. The branch seemed to be more engaged as well, probably because I didn't sound as intellectual as usual. My approach was more relatable and inviting. I received many compliments afterward, more than I ever have in this branch.

I can't say I received any promptings while I was at the podium, and I do think you can be inspired while you write a talk. Still, it was a very unique and uplifting experience. I think I'm going to do all my talks like this from now on and save the intellectual essays for this blog.

Sharing Time: How do you like to prepare and give talks? Is there one that ended up being a meaningful experience for you?

Title from D&C 50:17-22

Comments

Anonymous said…
I was assigned to talk about a a topic from the Strength of Youth. I chose Sexual Purity. It was typed out and I mostly read it. I did look up often and used my voice to make it interesting. Afterwards, I received compliments because I handled the subject well. It was not an easy topic to talk about.
Constance
Anonymous said…
One reason for sacrament meeting (the most important being taking the sacrament and renewing the covenants we made at baptism) is to learn from the speaker and have our faith and testimony grow. I do not think may speakers prepare their talk with this in mind. I do not think many even realize that they are teaching, not just speaking. I think that giving a talk (teaching) by the spirit starts with getting organized. At soon as you are asked to give a talk and know your topic, you should begin to pray about it, think about it, and start collecting material for your topic. Pray for guidance on knowing what to choose to talk about and how best to present it. Then start writing it. These steps allow for inspiration. I think you should have at least one scripture on the subject, and a quote about it from the most current leader you can find. A story relating the principle to real life is always good, especially if it is from your own life. I think the best talks are from people that have a testimony of the topic, and speak from the heart. This allow them to end with a sincere testimony of the topic that will hopefully touch everyone.

What your branch president has suggested is good. This will help the speaker know the topic better, and be better prepared. It also lets the spirit guide.

From the October 2011 New Era: It is often better to prepare a simple outline of what you are to speak on instead of writing the talk out word for word and reading it. Reading a talk may tie you down to say exactly what is written instead of being able to adapt as the Holy Ghost gives you “in the very moment, what ye shall say”.
Mom
DAD said…
I have great love for you Cheski- you are a diamond- and Mom and Constance are priceless treasures - enjoyed all the comments and the blog- I get inspiration when I give the occasional talk from praying and searching the scriptures and the lds.org website

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