You’ve been asked to speak in sacrament meeting. What do you do? First off, relax. Remember, the congregation is on your side, and everyone wants you to give a fabulous talk.
One of the purposes of sacrament meeting is to “provide gospel instruction” and to “strengthen faith and testimony” (Administering the Church , 138). As a youth speaker, the Lord and your ward leaders have trusted you with part of this responsibility. You have the opportunity to teach and to inspire the members of your ward or branch. So, how can you write a meaningful talk? Here are some tips and ideas to consider as you prepare, organize, and deliver your talk.
Doctrine and Covenants 42:14 tells us how to obtain the Spirit’s influence in our teaching: “And the Spirit shall be given unto you by the prayer of faith.” Start your talk preparations with sincere prayer. The Holy Ghost can “show unto you all things what ye should do” in preparing and giving your talk (2 Nephi 32:5). Ask God to enlighten your mind so you can understand what you are to speak about and how best to present the information.
An important part of this preparation is to start writing your talk as soon as you receive the assignment to give it. Elder Jeffrey R. Holland said, “May I encourage you to start thinking about and planning early for any [talk] that you are to give” (“Teaching and Learning in the Church” [worldwide leadership training meeting, Feb. 10, 2007], Ensign, June 2007, 90). Preparing early will give you more time to receive insights and inspiration.
As you prayerfully consider what to say in your talk, consider these four main elements, which can be organized in any order:
Share a doctrine or principle related to your topic.
Tell faith-promoting experiences—especially ones from your own life.
Bear your testimony of the topic and anything else you feel prompted to testify about.
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” (D&C 100:6).
President Gordon B. Hinckley (1910–2008) taught, “We must … speak out of [our] hearts rather than out of [our] books” (Teachings of Gordon B. Hinckley , 619–20). By making your own experiences and testimony a vital part of your talk, you will be more likely to speak from your heart and affect those who hear your talk.
Remember, your ward leaders asked you to speak on the topic, so don’t just rely on the thoughts and stories of others. As you follow the Spirit in preparing and giving the talk, He will help you know what to say as you speak to your ward or branch members.