Recently in Sacrament Meeting, one of my favorite brethren in the ward gave an amazing talk. It was so good, so right, so inspiring. It was also so long. He started when he was supposed to, but after his designated 10 minutes were up, he went on for an additional 15 minutes. Small enough problem, but he wasn’t the concluding speaker: There was yet to be a musical number, and a recently returned missionary.
Here are a few tips to make the most of your Sunday speaking assignment:
1) When the bishopric member asks you to speak, always ask “How long?”
2) Prepare your talk with that time in mind – don’t forget to provide time for an introduction and a testimony at the end. Also, if you are an emotional speaker, build in time for kleenex.
3) When you have your talk written, practice it – with a timer. Multiple times. There are very few speakers out there who can accurately gauge how fast time is moving . (Yes, write it down – even if you don’t plan on using the notes.)
4) Decide in advance which parts of your talk you can skip, should you be running late.
5) If it is just impossible to fit your talk into the assigned time, put the talk away, save it for another day, and start over.
6) Before you begin speaking, glance at the clock and determine a “stop” time. It is much easier than calculating how long you have been speaking every time you glance at the clock.
7) Use the timer on your phone. (preferably on vibrate mode.)