I’ve been asked by my bishop to teach a class on how to be better Sunday speakers. I’m not sure if I’m being specific enough. The problem is that when members are assigned to give a speech they never seem to prepare themselves, and this is a problem because the other members never get the message and it turns out to be a waste of time. Now I need help figuring out the right steps to make an effective speech, so please if you have any information on this I would appreciate it if you send it to me as soon as you can. Thank you very much.
Respect and admiration.
That’s a pretty tall order. Different speakers have different approaches, different backgrounds and different abilities. So perhaps it wouldn’t be too beneficial to focus on topics of elocution. However, there are some general guide lines for giving a good talk in church that apply to all speakers.
First, the topic: It is important to speak on a gospel-related subject. Personal experiences and feelings generally detract from the Spirit unless they are used to support or substantiate some gospel principle.
Next, the preparation: The best preparation that one can have for giving a good talk in church is to live in such a way that you may qualify for the influence of the Holy Spirit. If we cannot speak by the Holy Spirit, the talk will have no value, no matter how prepared the speaker. We learn in D&C 68:4 that
whatsoever they shall speak when moved upon by the Holy Ghost shall be scripture, shall be the will of the Lord, shall be the mind of the Lord, shall be the word of the Lord, shall be the voice of the Lord, and the power of God unto salvation.
Also important in preparation are two other principles-
1) Become familiar with the scriptures and the words of the prophets. All our talks should be based in those concepts that are revealed to us from the Father, and they are found in the scriptures and in the pronouncements of the General Authorities.
2) Of supreme importance in preparing a talk is the spirit of prayer. If we are to teach by the Spirit, we must seek for its guidance.
And the Spirit shall be given unto you by the prayer of faith; and if ye receive not the Spirit ye shall not teach. (D&C 42:14)
I am of the impression that giving a good talk in church depends as much on the listeners as on the speakers. The listeners also should live in such a way as to qualify for the influence of the Holy Spirit, or that which is spoken by the Spirit will not enter their hearts. They will hear only empty words. If the listeners tend to be critical, they can always find something to criticize, and in so doing will lose the Spirit. But if the listeners are humble and are willing to be taught, and support the speaker by their own prayers they can always find something of value and benefit, no matter how poor the delivery.