The DOs and NOTs of talking publicly

I belong to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. I live it and I love it. I enjoy working in the nursery every Sunday. Going to church each week really gives me what I need to get through another week. It is a light in my own life.

Latter Day Saints have a unique privilege of giving a possibly large number of speeches in their lives. I guess this could come across as being a curse to some, those who hate public speaking. But I view it as a privilege. Speaking publicly, I think, makes you better at speaking privately. Some of you may be reading this thinking "What? Speeches? I'm LDS and I've never given a speech!" To that I say, you probably have, you've just called them "Talks". I think it's funny calling them talks, but I do it anyways.

Now. I'm no pro at public speaking. Not by any means. I took an entry level public speaking class in college and that certifies me to give advice, OBVIOUSLY. Hah. I also have seen many "talks" given, and have had favorites and not-so-favorites. I think there's distinguishing features between my favorites and not favorites. I want to share them with you. Some of you might doubt the advice I'm sharing with you, saying that you don't need to follow it to give great "talks". That might be true. But look at it this way. In General Conference, you'll see that all of the "talks" given follow what I'm gonna share.

To start (this will be funny later...), the NOTs of talking publicly.

1. Never ever get up and make a joke about getting a phone call or being approached to give this talk. Everyone knows what that feels like. Everyone in the congregation has heard this joke given a million different times in a million different ways. It's rarely funny anymore. And it doesn't make much sense, doesn't give the audience any new information. No one is down there thinking "Woah wait, you mean, you weren't just divinely inspired to get up there and talk today? Someone had to ask you to do it?"

2. You don't need to start your talk with "Today I'm going to talk about...." Guess what. When you just get right into it, we know what you're gonna talk about. Your talk should be good enough that we can get the topic from it without you serving it to us on a silver platter.

3. We don't need a road map to your talk. Words like "To start..." "To finish..." are excessive. How about instead of saying "To start" and "To finish", ACTUALLY start and finish.

Now here are some DOs of talking publicly.

1. Have a strong beginning. Know what gets people hooked? Questions. Ask the audience a question. The tone of voice used in questions engages people, it is a great way of giving a topic to your talk without TELLING people what the topic is, and right from the start, people start applying your words to themselves. Other engaging things are poetry. I don't know why. The words or something. Rhyming words catch the audience and interest them. We're all toddlers at heart.

2. Do conclude nicely. Summarize your information. A pet peeve of mine is when people say "To conclude", and then give us brand new information. Wait, now I've forgotten what your talk was about. And I don't see how it ties together. Find a way to tie your information together.

3. Do prepare. Remember General Conference? How many of those fellas get up there with a few scriptures scribbled on their hand and hem and haw it from there? They have thought about what they're going to share. Some people like to say that they just will let the spirit inspire them at the pulpit. Maybe that could happen. Seems that more often, they're inspired by the fear of public speaking, thus the hems and haws. You don't need something written out word for word, and you don't need anything memorized. But consider that when you're speaking in church, you are there to teach people. The words you say may very well impact a person for the rest of their life. So prepare accordingly.

So to finish, I just want to say that we're having kale in our salad for dinner, and I'm oh so excited.

(I called this DOs and NOTs to bother people.)

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