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Saturday, April 21, 2012

"The phone's for you, it's the Bishop..." Part I

"The phone's for you, it's the Bishop..."

Ok, quick! You hear those words, how many excuses can you come up with in 10 seconds??

I'll bet most of you would suddenly be sick in your hotel room, on vacation and not sure when you were coming home!  It's funny how such humble, God-like men can elicit such general feelings of panic and horror when they call on the phone or catch you in the hall by their office!

So what does that call usually lead to?

"We'd like you to speak in Sacrament Meeting next week..."

"Will you accept a call to..."

"In reviewing the tithing records we discovered you've overpaid and are due to receive a refund"

"I just got off the phone with the Prophet, he wanted me to let you know your calling and election has been made sure..."

Ok, the last two are pretty unlikely--probably totally out of the question--but the first two are really what freak each of us out, right?

So this week, I want to give you 8 tips to preparing a conference-caliber talk!

Consider this a "Speech Buffet", take all to want, leave what you don't!

The moment I hear I'm giving a talk, I pray and ask for Heavenly Father to bring thoughts to my mind. When I do this, I invariable get ideas at random times...like making a sandwich (true story, ask my mission buddy, Elder Busath, more than once, while making a PB&J sandwich I'd say, "Elder! I just received revelation!!").

DON'T start writing the talk right away
(unless Bishop called you Saturday night or Sunday morning...then by all means, write fast!!). I've found if I begin writing right away I will limit the thoughts and ideas I get on the subject. I will typically not actually write my talk until 24-36 hours before I am to give it.

Ask for input from friends and family
I believe one of the keys to a great talk is kicking around numerous thoughts, ideas and perspectives in your head for a few days. Getting ideas from others and testing your ideas on them gives you a good sense of how to direct the talk to benefit the audience.

Structure your talk around the Plan of Salvation
Elder Bruce R. McConkie was the master of this. Every talk I've heard of his, regardless the topic, included the pre-earth life, atonement, and eternities. Doing this provides the necessary context to drive home the importance of any gospel topic.

Write in note/bullet format
I know many of you have to write out your talk word for word, and I understand.  But if you can do it, notes and bullets are great for inviting the Spirit. Making notes or bullets instead of writing your talk out word for word will allow you to deliver the talk in your own voice, rather than sounding like you're reading an article out of the Ensign. This also allows you to skip parts if time requires.

Utilize the Church Resources
From mobile apps to the notebook function and search bar on lds.org you have a MASSIVE library of material from which to draw in writing your talk. The Brethren have provided such resources, don't miss out on their benefit.

Use the language of the Scriptures
Even if you don't quote the scriptures word for word or give the reference, using the verbiage of scripture brings the word of the Lord and the voice of the Lord to your talk (see how I did that? D&C 68:4) .  Elder McConkie and Elder Maxwell were great at this!

Determine what you uniquely can convey about your topic
 If its on missionary work and your a convert, share parts of the story. If its on the importance of Personal Progress, talk about how you're helping your daughter with hers. I believe in revelation. You were asked to give this talk because Heavenly Father knew you have something to share that only you can. Discover what that is and share it!

By following these 8 steps as you prepare your Sacrament Meeting talk you will find that the Spirit will teach you and prompt you as to what you should say.  And as we all know, the Spirit is the real teacher when we speak, so do all you can to invite his influence into your talk! 

Question: How do you prepare a talk you are asked to give?

If you are finding value in these posts, please share them with family and friends (and heck, even strangers! I don't mind!).

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