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Nine Moons » Blog Archive : You Need To Speak Better. I Don’t Know, You Figure It Out. » You Need To Speak Better. I Don’t Know, You Figure It Out.

You Need To Speak Better. I Don’t Know, You Figure It Out.

Rusty - July 19, 2010

I love top-5 lists as much as anyone, but this post only serves up the problems without offering any practical solutions. So let’s pretend that part of your stake calling is to strive to improve the quality of speaking in Sacrament meetings across the stake. What do you do?

A few points to consider:
- You hold no authority over the speakers nor those whom are primarily responsible for the quality of Sacrament meetings (bishops/bishoprics).
- Generally (those who are willing) adult members each speak around once a year.
- This isn’t about music, it’s about speaking.
- This isn’t about teachers, it’s about speaking.
- The wards are diverse in culture, language, age, knowledge, experience, and speaking ability.
- Bishops/bishoprics aren’t necessarily the best speakers in their wards.

Ideas? Solutions?

45 Comments »

  1. So, start with the bishops/bishoprics.

    Encourage them:

    To make assignments earlier.

    To assign the broadest possible topic. (The handbook FWIW says that the bishopric is to assign topics. We comply by asking people to “preach the gospel of Jesus Christ.” And then we ask them to find out what the Lord wants them to say. And we counsel with them about that.)

    To stop giving copies of conference talks to people assigned to speak. Just don’t do it!

    To use “preach” instead of “give a talk” when making the assignment.

    To remind those called to preach of their responsibility to preach by the spirit–see D&C 50.

    Once you’ve got bishoprics moving in the right direction, then you can work on details with the members.

    Comment by Mark B. — July 20, 2010 @ 3:58 am

  2. I might try the opposite of one of Mark’s points, and that is to assign a very narrow topic. When the bishop assigns something as broad as “Faith,” you get three talks on the most elementary aspects of faith: definitions from Webster and the Bible dictionary, and the same three scriptures that were memorized in seminary. But narrower topics that emphasized a personal element could elicit more personal, and better, talks: “How faith in the atonement helped me prepare to go to the temple” or “How faith that Christ understands my sorrows helped me overcome a weakness.”

    I might also ask bishops to spend a little more time (yeah, I know, they don’t have any) with talk assignments. Instead of a quick phone call saying “Would you and your wife talk on faith in two weeks?” call and ask them to think and pray about what they topic they feel inspired to address, or that they’re passionate about or have special recent experience with. Make a second call in a few days to discuss their answer and settle on a topic. (That’s risky, maybe, because they might occasionally have to field a choice of “I feel inspired to talk about why I should be elected to the city council,” but someone who is outlandish enough to propose something freaky would also be outlandish enough to turn an assigned talk on faith into whatever he wanted.)

    If this is a stake calling, you’d likely have the support of the stake presidency to work with the high council and teach them principles of better speaking. Assuming they’d consent to learn, they would make frequent and good models of better speaking in the wards.

    Comment by Ardis E. Parshall — July 20, 2010 @ 4:26 am

  3. This may sound heretical, but I would lean towards letting people speak on topics they actually know something about and are interested in. The chances of their talks being interesting, I find, go up dramatically.

    Comment by joe — July 20, 2010 @ 4:59 am

  4. As Mark said above, step 1 is to stop assigning General Conference talks to speak on.

    Comment by Ben Park — July 20, 2010 @ 5:51 am

  5. My parents’ branch makes preaching assignments by handing the speaker a letter about two weeks ahead of time. That letter:
    1) explains the topic and requested duration,
    2) includes a few references to recent Conference talks or scriptures,
    3) emphasizes what specific goal the bishopric is trying to accomplish with this talk (ie. inspire people to develop their faith/go to the temple/seek inspiration through the scriptures),
    4) outlines how and when personal experience should be used,
    5) reiterates that they do not want a mere summary of a Conference talk, and
    6) gives a telephone number for the speaker to contact if they have any questions.

    I think it’s a great idea, and seems to be effective in their branch.

    Comment by SilverRain — July 20, 2010 @ 6:18 am

  6. I’m with Mark in #1.

    Comment by Dan — July 20, 2010 @ 6:37 am

  7. Mark B

    To assign the broadest possible topic.

    Ardis

    I might try the opposite of one of Mark’s points, and that is to assign a very narrow topic

    On balance, Ardis wins the point–a narrow topic is more likely to elicit a good talk. But I also shudder at the thought that the narrow topic I am assigned will be one I am not comfortable with (e.g., why we should use “thee” and “thou” in our prayers). So how about a compromise. Give speakers a menu of narrow topics to choose from.

    Comment by Last Lemming — July 20, 2010 @ 6:49 am

  8. Oh yeah. The premise that a stake official has no authority over speakers is flawed. Approximately 1/3 of sacrament meetings are anchored by high counselors-someone the stake president could give you limited authority over. Start with them. Please.

    Comment by Last Lemming — July 20, 2010 @ 6:51 am

  9. I’ve been thinking about this a lot since Sunday. We had a High Councilman and one of his guests speak and they were two of the most boring talks I’ve ever heard. Complete monotone, lots of reading, no passion, etc.

    I know High Councilors do a lot more than just speak in Sacrament Meeting once a month, but you’d think being able to give great (at least good) talks would a prerequisite.

    Comment by Tim J — July 20, 2010 @ 7:59 am

  10. Bishoprics need to be mindful of the program as well. Some people just aren’t ever going to be great speakers but they should still get the opportunity. But when Bishoprics put 2 or 3 weak speakers on a program together…disaster. They need to have one strong speaker at the close of the meeting.

    One other thing, I’ve done Mutual night workshops for the youth on public speaking. I took the “Church” out of it and ran it much like I would a Speech class, but then was able to relate it back to speaking in Church. “What are some cliches that we use in Church talks?” “What are some different ways other than a joke to open a talk?” etc.

    Comment by Tim J — July 20, 2010 @ 8:02 am

  11. Find good speakers and make “regular sacrament meeting speaker” a calling. Each sacrament meeting could include one of your called speakers.

    Comment by Eric Russell — July 20, 2010 @ 8:29 am

  12. Mark,
    It is true that bishoprics could do a better job of making assignments earlier. Me and you have had this conversation about broad/narrow topics. The tricky part I think, and I think others on this thread have proven, is that for some people a broad topic works better and others a narrow topic works better. How do you decide? Follow the Spirit I guess. Simple. I do like your thoughts about shifting the paradigm of what members are doing there at the podium, that they are not “giving a talk” but rather “preaching.” I like that a lot.

    Ardis,
    I’m personally inclined to narrow the topic down. When I was in the bishopric we tried to have a general theme for the day and narrow each of the three topics down to a sub-theme or a particular aspect or perspective of that theme. Sometimes this worked really well and of course other times it failed. And even though I’m pretty proud of many of the sub-themes we came up with, we could have done a much better job at making the assignments and impressing upon the members the importance of what they were doing. Like you say, there is a lot more bishoprics can be doing.

    And I probably should have been more clear about this in the post, but I’m actually on the High Council and this is part of my responsibility and I am asking for actual, practical advice on what to do. I sometimes forget that outside of Brooklyn there are stakes that have the resources to give a responsibility like this to someone not on the High Council. I should also mention that I have been working on something similar to SilverRain (#5), but would like to hear more peoples’ feedback before I disclose what I have so far.

    So, Ardis, now that I’ve come clean, please help me better understand your last paragraph. Are you saying that the HC should be able to teach individual members principles of better speaking? (let’s look past the irony of the idea that we should be looking to HC members for advice on good speaking…) How, exactly, would you go about that? It’s something I’ve thought about, if we could only have some kind of class or some kind of workshop or whatever, but I always run into a series of questions: how do you determine which members need help and which ones don’t? And if you can figure that out, how do you go about approaching the needy ones without offending? And if you can figure that out, how do you apply those principles to the whole stake? Now, if your answer is work with the bishoprics to follow the Spirit, I agree. And when I was in the bishopric we never felt it was appropriate to single people out to teach them how to prepare better talks.

    Joe,
    Okay, so it sounds like you’re leaning more toward a broad approach than a narrow, is that correct? How do you suggest they get their topic, kind of like what Ardis said, to have them pray about it and then get back to you? And if that’s the case, do you think Sacrament meetings should scrap the idea of having an overall theme (because surely one person will want to speak on tithing while another want to speak on the Atonement)? And lastly, when members are allowed to speak on what they want there is a concern that they will choose what they are comfortable with. Which, there’s nothing inherently wrong with this, but what about learning about something new? Is there a loss there?

    Ben,
    Agreed. But I find nothing wrong with providing GC talks as resources, just not the themes.

    SilverRain,
    This is great. As I said above I’m putting something like this together for the bishoprics to use as a resource. Great points, each of which I will take into consideration.

    LL,
    Giving a menu isn’t a bad idea, but again, what about an overall theme for the meeting? Or a menu of narrow topics within an overall theme? That’s actually kind of what we did.

    What do you mean that the HC has authority over the members? In what way would the exercise of that authority change the scenario? Please elaborate.

    Tim,
    Totally agree about our need to be better speakers. Thanks for the reminder…

    I love the idea of having the youth leaders work with the youth on public speaking. Awesome.

    Eric,
    Interesting idea. In our bishopric we tried to have 4-5 people prepare generic talks that could be customized on the fly in the case of someone not showing up or bailing at the last minute (which was not infrequent). The first time we did that we exhausted them within a month. Crazy.

    Comment by Rusty — July 20, 2010 @ 8:35 am

  13. I’m not saying that the High Council has authority over the members. I’m saying that the Stake President could give one High Councilman (you?) the assignment to train other HC members in speaking (or preaching, if you prefer) more effectively.

    Comment by Last Lemming — July 20, 2010 @ 8:41 am

  14. Much of Church behavior is contagious: anemic singing spreads, talks that are read from The Ensign breed one another, teaching straight from the manual will predictably get imitators.

    I am a strong believer in the power of example. One way I have seen RS teaching turned around, for example, is to get one really excellent teacher in the rotation–everyone else steps up their game to match the increased expectations set, even if they have to start off kind of copying the good teacher.

    So, I would work on the High Council talks. They are a control group you can work with to try to inspire better speakers. Working with bishoprics to try to create powerful meetings, rather than getting everyone into the rotation. Maybe they should feel free to go through a building up period, where they ask a concentrated group of good speakers to speak more often.

    I personally want to hear people give a talk that no one else can give–I don’t want to hear one a computer can put together. And I would tell them that when asking them to talk–I think that would make people more likely to share more of themselves.

    How about giving people feedback after they talk? Generally the bishopric never addresses the talk again, but a simple “I really liked that story” or “your question about ________ has really got me thinking” reinforces good talk behavior. I know I remember comments I get after presentations, and they do affect preparations for future presentations.

    Diction is some of the problem: the word “talk” is a TERRIBLE noun. I would ask people to prepare a Sermon.

    Perhaps I am alone here, but I HATE that the entire meeting is directed at adults. I wish someone every week was at least a little child-friendly.

    Comment by ESO — July 20, 2010 @ 9:14 am

  15. Well, the high council holds church courts, so that’s a bit of authority regarding members of a stake. When someone gives a poor talk, call them before the high council and, with love, administer appropriate disciplinary action for undermining the spirituality of the stake.

    Yesterday for home evening, my son told us a story built around his great-aunt’s effort in her stake calling to improve speaking among the youth and the response of a ward young women’s president who called her seven times in one day to denounce her plans. You have caller ID, right?

    Comment by John Mansfield — July 20, 2010 @ 9:20 am

  16. I love the idea of having the youth leaders work with the youth on public speaking. Awesome.

    Just to elaborate on this a little…

    I gave about 45 minutes of instruction with a fill-in-the-blank worksheet to accompany it. We talked about strong openings, controlling nerves, body language, how to do an outline, etc.

    After that, we actually handed the kids their upcoming speaking assignment (some were a couple weeks away, some a months or so) and had them work for 30 or so minutes right there with the help the leaders.

    It turned out to be a great improvement.

    Comment by Tim J — July 20, 2010 @ 9:22 am

  17. This post reminds me of another post I’ve been thinking about for a while – “In Defense of Priestcraft”. Or in other words – lets get some paid ministry! Not for every talk or lesson – but as a supliment.

    I guess I’ll have to get this argument together….

    Comment by CJ Douglass — July 20, 2010 @ 9:31 am

  18. On a more practical note:

    I like the idea of an instrictional class of some sort – for youth and adults. Publci speaking skills don’t seem to come natutal to most people…

    Comment by CJ Douglass — July 20, 2010 @ 11:07 am

  19. LL,
    Ah, I understand.

    ESO,
    I see that you are much better qualified to do my calling than I. These are fantastic ideas. I love the idea of communicating to members that they should give talks only they can give. Giving feedback is a toughie because it’s so natural just to say, “good job” regardless of how they actually did. There are too many issues of sensitivity (especially for the lay member who probably didn’t want to speak anyway) to give them too much feedback, or any negative (constructive?) feedback. So your approach, positive feedback about specific points like your examples, could be just right. And yes, preparing a sermon is great, though not often used within Mormonism. Wow, that is interesting, why have we walked away from that terminology and replaced it with “talk”? Amazing. And sermons directed to children would be great.

    John,
    Hilarious. I mean, you shouldn’t joke about such things.

    Tim,
    Good stuff. I will soon be speaking with the YM/YW leaders in my ward, to get their thoughts on this.

    CJ,
    For the last time, we’re not paying you for your crappy talks!

    Comment by Rusty — July 20, 2010 @ 11:21 am

  20. CJ,
    I agree that some sort of class could be helpful, but how would you go about setting it up? On the ward or stake level? By invite only? If so, how do you determine who and how do you avoid offending? If you open it to everyone are you going to get those who really need it volunteering to go to the class? Do you just pick the best speaker in the ward to teach it?

    Comment by Rusty — July 20, 2010 @ 11:25 am

  21. Ward level. Taught by a capable speaker. Then move every single member of the ward through the class over the course of a year – like a herd of cattle.

    Comment by CJ Douglass — July 20, 2010 @ 12:19 pm

  22. One simple thing to do would be to ask the bishops to devote a joint Relief Society/priesthood meeting to the subject of how to give a good talk. You might see if a local Toastmasters club would be willing to send a representative to help (or do) the presentation.

    And no speaker should be given less than a week’s notice that he/she will be giving a talk/sermon.

    Comment by Eric — July 20, 2010 @ 12:40 pm

  23. Our ward has solved this problem by essentially not letting anyone other than the bishopric speak more than twice while in the ward–once when they move in, once when they move out (maybe). All other talks are given by the High Council or the bishopric themselves. I’ve been in the ward nearly five years and have been asked to speak once. We recently had a member of the bishopric released (to be High Priest Group Leader) who moved in after we did, and bragged that he had spoken 19 times.

    Comment by CS Eric — July 20, 2010 @ 12:56 pm

  24. Rusty, ESO’s explanation in #14 is what I meant by having the high council model talks. If you could teach them to be better speakers, then the talks they give in the wards could show members what a good talk should be. That model could spread, especially if the person who spoke with the councilman, who often comes with him from outside the ward, was also a decent speaker.

    The tough part, I suspect, would be getting Stake Dry Councilmen to admit, even to themselves, that they aren’t experts at everything, because by the time they’re called to the council they usually have a long history of being In Charge. Like anything else, unless they were willing to admit they needed help, your suggestions would go nowhere.

    A couple of years ago a blogger (Ivan? I was just getting to know people then and apologize for not being sure) wrote a whole series on how to construct a talk. I asked the blog, whichever it was, to put a link to that series on their front page because it was so good that we’d want to refer to it again. Anybody know who and where that was?

    Comment by Ardis E. Parshall — July 20, 2010 @ 1:15 pm

  25. I throw my hat in with the narrower topics unless they are a fairly new member of the Church maybe. I’d also love to see an emphasis on getting rid of all the opening remarks excuses. “When Bro. so and so ask me to give a talk…” “I’m not very good at these things…” “I don’t know much about this topic…” “I didn’t have much time to prepare because…” Like Mark said, speakers are here to preach not center the 10-15 minutes around themselves and their strengths/weaknesses.

    Here are some good guidelines as well as here and here.

    Comment by Bret — July 20, 2010 @ 1:15 pm

  26. Our ward has solved this problem by essentially not letting anyone other than the bishopric speak more than twice while in the ward–once when they move in, once when they move out (maybe). All other talks are given by the High Council or the bishopric themselves. I’ve been in the ward nearly five years and have been asked to speak once. We recently had a member of the bishopric released (to be High Priest Group Leader) who moved in after we did, and bragged that he had spoken 19 times.

    That sounds…awful.

    Our Bishopric speaks far more than I would like them to. I also think you end up depriving most folks of an opportunity for real growth.

    Comment by Tim J — July 20, 2010 @ 1:24 pm

  27. Ardis, your first comment reminds me of a Catholic girlfriend I had long before I got married. After she had attended a few Sacrament Meetings, she asked me, “Is Webster’s Dictionary one of the Standard Works in your church?”

    Comment by Syphax — July 20, 2010 @ 1:28 pm

  28. CJ and Eric,
    The idea of having a class or a joint (5th Sunday) class devoted to improving speaking is an interesting one, though I’m not necessarily sold. I mean, many people already complain that we spend our worship service talking about such things as setting goals and self-reliance, should we be adding to that “be a better public speaker”? I can see maybe an enrichment activity devoted to it, because that’s outside of the 3-hour block that many consider their time of worship.

    CS Eric,
    Yes, that sounds awful. Perhaps you should volunteer to speak. I know I would have LOVED if members volunteered.

    Ardis,
    It’s funny, the problem that you refer to is likely a very real problem in most cases. But I actually think our stake doesn’t suffer from either “dry” councilmen (in their talks) nor do many of them have a long history of leadership. Almost every one of us are in our 30’s and most of the extent of our experience “being In Charge” was in a bishopric. And what I know of each of them I actually think they would likely be open to becoming better speakers. But I actually think most of them already are.

    I remember there being that series and read a couple of the posts and I think you’re right it was Ivan. Folks, I’m lazy, can’t someone find the links??

    Bret,
    Yes, I would love to lose all of those opening remarks. Especially when they mention my name and how I called them the night before to ask them to speak. That’s nobody else’s business!!! And Bret, those are great resources.

    Syphax,
    Yeah, the dictionary definition always gets me. It does not matter if the definition has anything to do with anything, some people just have to have it.

    Comment by Rusty — July 20, 2010 @ 2:31 pm

  29. I’m sticking with my recommendation that the bishopric generally not go beyond “Preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ” in the initial assignment, followed by “After you’ve thought and prayed and studied and prayed some more, let’s talk about it.” And give help as needed in narrowing the topic. Assignments given three or four weeks in advance give time for that.

    I think that this approach makes it more likely that the speaker will be able to do what ESO says, to “give a talk [sic] that no one else can give”–I think, ESO, that you meant “sermon”. : )

    And I agree with absolutely everything else ESO said–terrific ideas! Except that in our YSA branch, there is just one child–the not-quite-one-year-old son of a counselor in the branch presidency. I’m not sure that we’ll be directing any talks just at him, for a while, at least.

    Comment by Mark B. — July 20, 2010 @ 3:12 pm

  30. Mark, if *I’m* the one being asked to speak, I sure as shootin’ would appreciate the widest possible topic, one that I could maybe stretch in a direction where I actually had something to say. Since I get asked to speak precisely once a year, and it’s always-but-always on the Sunday closest to Pioneer Day, my assignment is always just “Pioneers.” /sigh/ This year I’m trying to stretch it to something beyond the obvious by having agency (both being agents unto ourselves and agents for others in helping them do what they can’t do alone) be my real subject, but with all my illustrations coming from the work of the church’s 19th century emigration agents.

    Now if I just don’t get stoned for speaking favorably of helping people get to this country with or without the approval of the Know Nothing Party, it should be an interesting talk.

    Comment by Ardis E. Parshall — July 20, 2010 @ 3:25 pm

  31. Awesome, Ardis. Just remember that almost no on is down on immigration in the past (when all of our ancestors did it) only in the present.

    Comment by MCQ — July 20, 2010 @ 3:31 pm

  32. I love Tim’s idea.

    Comment by Andrew S. — July 20, 2010 @ 4:37 pm

  33. Yes, the series I remember was written by Ivan Wolfe at M*. Part 5 has links to all the earlier parts of the series. It’s good.

    Comment by Ardis E. Parshall — July 20, 2010 @ 5:37 pm

  34. I actually don’t think a “Be a Better Speaker” meeting would be that hard to put together. Make it a party. I think every ward has one or two or three excellent speakers that everyone recognizes as such and enjoys being around. Make it a night with them, provide child care, and substantially yummy food. Make it a discussion-based meeting that is relaxed, provide hand-outs with key points. Who doesn’t want to be a better speaker? I do!

    Positive feedback does indeed need to be more than “good job” because that is absolutely useless. It is not hard, though, to find at least one good thing in every talk. I have known of bishopric members and members who keep post cards in their scripture bags and write 3 a week during Sacrament, giving each speaker some positive feedback. It feels great to receive that in the mail on Tuesday.

    I also think that speaking assignments should be given in writing rather than verbally. If it was my job, I would type up a form letter with some specific things I want everyone to do (1–please prepare a talk only you can give, 2–please use the scriptures and your personal experiences to illustrate this gospel principle, 3–please do not exceed your time of _____ minutes, it may help to time yourself when you practice, etc etc) and fill in the details of specific assignments.

    One last thing to improve talk assignments: don’t give EVERY speaker in one meeting or one month the same topic. I know it is easier on the bishopric, but it is murder on the congregation and hard on speakers, too.

    Comment by ESO — July 20, 2010 @ 6:45 pm

  35. Good thoughts, ESO.

    I especially agree with your last paragraph.

    Elder Carmack came to my mission and gave a workshop on public speaking which was excellent. I think I still have the notes I took and will try to post them if I can.

    Comment by MCQ — July 20, 2010 @ 11:06 pm

  36. When I was called to the HC, the SP informed me that I would be trained in my responsibilites including how to give a great talk. Along with the mechanics, we were emphatically instructed to teach with the Spirit. Bearing testimony is the best way to do that. I’ve been released from the HC for over a year, but last week I ran into a sister from the stake and she thanked me for a talk I had given 3 years ago. She remembered the talk because the Spirit was there teaching her.

    We were given our topics at the beginning of the year. This allowed us to begin preparation well ahead of time. I hate being asked after Sacrament Meeting if I would speak the next week. I understand that there are emergencies, but this is SOP in our ward now.

    I would memorize at least the first 5 to 10 minutes so that I could look at the congregation. I also emmorized the closing. I used the teenagers as a gauge of my speaking. If they got bored, I needed to punch it up. They are the canary in the coal mine.

    Comment by Floyd the Wonderdog — July 21, 2010 @ 4:47 am

  37. An obstacle to speaker improvement is that most of us don’t do it that often, so it will take quite a bit of dedication to diligently acquire additional skills that I will be called upon to employ one afternoon, maybe nineteen months from now, and then, when that occassion arrives, to recall what those skills are.

    Comment by John Mansfield — July 21, 2010 @ 6:14 am

  38. Shorter is better.

    Comment by annegb — July 21, 2010 @ 10:46 pm

  39. My SP said “There’s no sin in a short meeting, but there often is in a long one.”

    Comment by Floyd the Wonderdog — July 22, 2010 @ 3:43 am

  40. If you were in my stake, I’d say this: Never allow a SM without at least one woman speaking. I cannot believe how many Sundays we have with no women speakers in my ward. But I never complain about it because I know when I do, I’ll be asked “Are you willing to give talks?” Which I am, I really don’t have a problem with it–except I don’t want to be asked to just because I complained about something.

    For me, there’s really only one thing people need to know to give good talks: make it personal.

    Comment by Susan M — July 22, 2010 @ 8:19 pm

  41. An earlier comment made a great point . . our meetings are way too focused on the adults.

    In my ward, our sacrament meeting is probably 50% youth and primary age kids. And, we provide very little that focuses on them.

    It would be very interesting to have at least one talk that was focused on them . . by design. It might be interesting to have a primary child give a primary talk — with visual aids. Or, a youth speaker who talks to their peers (ours are just given a regular adult-oriented topic).

    Comment by Steve — July 22, 2010 @ 10:10 pm

  42. Sorry, hit the “Add my comments” button too early.

    An adult could give the talk but they would need to have a focus on the younger crowd.

    What I see now is people often have a comment or two directed at the young men/young women. But, really having a complete talk focused on the younger set, including primary could be valuable.

    Comment by Steve — July 22, 2010 @ 10:13 pm

  43. Floyd: my sentiments exactly.

    Susan m. I completely agree. But I usually agree with you.

    Comment by annegb — July 23, 2010 @ 11:00 am

  44. I didn’t know how spoiled I was until we moved from the Studio City Ward. All those actors and industry types, giving talks “in character.” No one in Valencia sings their testimony or shows “The Greatest Story Ever Told” Beatitudes scene (with a Swedish savior) during their talk. Gladys Knight and Marie Osmond never make cameos, and Larry King isn’t kvetching to his wife in the pews during a particularly ridiculous testimony. Alas, I was once served such a delightful banquet and now I dine at the Sizzler.

    Thanks for citing that post, Rusty. It made some very legitimate points.

    Comment by David T. — July 24, 2010 @ 9:20 am

  45. I realize you can’t assign a sacrament talk on the subject, “How to Give a Sacrament Talk,” but as an alternative to a class, fireside or seminar (which many wouldn’t attend anyway), wouldn’t it be a neat trick if a particularly talented speaker gave a talk on a gospel subject, but framed it within a How to Give a Talk talk? For example:

    The topic I’ve been asked to cover is “faith.” But my challenge isn’t talking about faith. My challenge is, how can I share something with you about faith that you haven’t already heard a hundred times? So, let me talk about something you haven’t heard much about over this pulpit– baseball.

    And then he shares rules, anecdotes and scriptures while talking about baseball, when he’s really talking about faith, and it’s clear he’s talking about faith.

    I don’t know, that probably wasn’t a good example. But the idea of framing a topic within a how-to lesson… That would certainly inspire me for the next time I had to give a talk.

    Comment by David T. — July 24, 2010 @ 5:35 pm

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