When I was called to teach in Relief Society, I didn't realize that preparing church lessons would drastically change how I prepare my Sacrament meeting talks.
Giving talks in Sacrament has always been stressful for me—like it is for most people. Usually, I write out the entire talk and just read it to the congregation, because a great public speaker I am not. However, this past year I did discover that I'm a halfway decent Relief Society teacher (a calling I've always wanted to try and indeed do love). I've also discovered that preparing lessons and teaching have fundamentally altered how I prepare Sacrament talks in several simple but powerful ways that I feel have made me a more engaging Sacrament speaker:
Disclaimer: There are a lot of great ways to prepare talks—do what works for your. These are just a few things I've found that have helped me get better at speaking naturally and following the impressions of the Spirit.
Ask more questions.
One of my favorite parts of teaching is being able to hold a discussion based around carefully thought-out questions that prompt my Relief Society sisters to think. Talks aren't nearly so interactive as a lesson, but the practice of thinking about questions has drastically improved the quality of my talks, too. I find the questions I craft while preparing a lesson help me explore more material and make connections that I might not otherwise have made. Asking yourself questions about the materials and pondering on the answers has deepened the connections I make between gospel principles on the subject at hand.
Come back to it.
As I prepare to teach a lesson, I plan time to read through the materials at least three times. The first is just to familiarize myself with the subject and basic information in the manual. The second is to read more into the reference materials. The third is to start piecing together the quotes I like and make an outline of the points from each that I'd like to use.
I suppose I could do these steps all in one sitting, but giving myself time to think in between sittings—even just an hour or two—lets my mind come back to the material fresh and often with additional ideas and a new perspective on what I've already gone over.