We’ve all seen it. We’ve all felt embarrassed, even though we’re the ones sitting in the congregation! Here are some points to follow to aid you while giving a talk in Sacrament Meeting.
1) Do not explain how you tried to avoid the assignment
I know we’ve all seen it. There are many who stand up at the pulpit and say, “When I saw Brother Jones’ name come up on the Caller ID, I made certain not to answer it. But later that day, he caught me in Walmart. And so Brother and Sisters, here I stand before you today.”
Blatantly admitting that you tried to avoid the assignment is an excellent way to turn others off to the information that you’re about to share. One of the best talks I’ve ever heard began by the speaker explaining how they tried to evade the assignment. You could tell that the audience automatically tuned out. But by the end of the talk, it turned out to be very motivational and uplifting. Don’t shoot yourself in the foot by starting off badly.
2) Don’t apologize for how “unworthy” or “unprepared” you are to speak
Touching the same topic as before, many people will explain how unprepared they are, or how unworthy they are to speak to such a large congregation and give counsel. It would be better to simply begin into your topic rather than ruining people’s expectations of you from the get-go. You also don’t have to mention how your palms are sweaty, knees are weak, or that you have butterflies in your stomach.
Also, it might not be a great idea to explain the amount of time spent as a whole in preparing for your talk.
3) Use humor appropriately
I once had a roommate in College who was asked to give a talk in Sacrament. The Sunday arrived and he got up and said the following: “I didn’t really know how to begin my talk, and so I asked around for some advice. I asked my friend how to give a great Sacrament Meeting talk, and he gave me the following counsel, ‘A talk should be like a bathing suit; Long enough to cover all the important parts, but short enough to keep things interesting.'” And that was said over the pulpit in the chapel. I couldn’t believe he said that. Remember, humor can be an effective part in giving a talk, but it can also kill the spirit very quickly. We have to remember that the Chapel is not a Saturday Night Comedy Club, and your main focus is not to make the congregation laugh.
4) Don’t use a definition from the dictionary
“Brothers and Sisters, this morning I’d like to talk on the subject of Faith. In Webster’s dictionary, Faith is defined as…” Please, no. Every talk does NOT have to begin with the dictionary definition. Mix it up. Do something new and creative.
5) Don’t ask for participation from the congregation
We’ve all been there when the speaker asks for participation from the congregation. I’ve seen it all from raising hands, standing, or even replying back to questions that the speaker has asked via yelling. Please, please, no. The Chapel is a place for reverent pondering and thinking.
There was once a man speaking in our Sacrament Meeting who asked the entire congregation to stand and place their hand over their heart (as if we were about to recite the pledge of allegiance). He then said, “Well, if all else fails, at least you can say that you’ve been uplifted and that your heart has been touched.” The audience gave a cute chuckle, but it should be avoided if at all possible.