The timing was perfect when Mary Moore asked me to share a few brief tips that have helped me while preparing to speak at a function, especially in church, because I was just asked to give a talk in our ward last week on the first three beatitudes from Matthew 5:3–5. For me, because I do it often, speaking at a fireside is much easier than giving a concise talk on an assigned subject in sacrament meeting which happens so seldom! What a great stretching and learning experience that was for me! The research was fascinating as I explored footnotes, scriptural references, and conference talks from our wonderful prophets and apostles.
As we all know, we learn much more from the talks we prepare than anyone in the audience, but here are three things that I learned from this good experience:
1. Even though the quotes and stories you find as you prepare are treasures, keep what you actually read to a minimum. Paraphrase short stories and remember that people want to know how you feel about your subject and how it has applied to your life. Don’t excuse yourself for “being personal.” Those stories are the things that will endear you to your audience and be what they will remember.