If you are new to giving sacrament meeting talks, this article isn’t for you.

This article is for those who have already given many talks, who feel comfortable giving talks, but who want to take their talks to the next level.

The suggestions in this article are designed to help you make your talks more meaningful, engaging, and enjoyable.

Start Off Well

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Psychologists disagree about how long you have to make a first impression. But what is clear is that whenever that first impression takes, it is tough to turn around.

Unfortunately, many of us start our talks by apologizing, or telling the story of how we were asked.

I spoke with Susan Cunningham, a public speaking professor at San Antonio College, and occasional LDS.net contributor about improving our sacrament meeting talks.

She suggested we take our cue from general conference. Speakers start by either referring to something earlier in the meeting or introducing their subject. Stories can be particularly useful ways to start a talk.

Cunningham also warned, “it’s in bad taste to introduce yourself after you’ve been introduced.”

Authentic Emotion

Emotion Masks

It is nearly impossible to fake emotion. Even most acting schools tell their young actors not to try to fake emotions.

But that doesn’t mean being emotional in a talk cannot help your listeners understand the importance of your message. The key is to make sure that the emotion is authentic to your experience.

This means that when preparing a talk, you need to study and apply the topic enough that it will affect you. When this has had an actual impact in your life, then that lived experience will come out in your remarks.

Cunningham tells me that emotion comes out in the voice. We should usually avoid grand or demonstrative acts to try and show that we have been emotionally touched.

Keep in mind that not every great talk is emotional. If you’ve been asked to speak about a topic, at the last minute or that you do not have personal experience in, focus on these other pieces of advice and your talk can still be engaging and memorable.