How to Give a Sacrament Talk with Impact

Here’s some ideas on how to prepare to talk in church. The LDS Church is unique because we don’t have paid ministry. We are the ministry. It’s up to us.

Remember a sacrament meeting talk is a sacred opportunity. Take it seriously, but don’t get too stressed out.

In addition to these points you may want to review this Forbes article that helps me and my colleagues remember what is helpful from a worldly point of view:

Remember you will have a little help you may not have in a business speaking opportunity:

1- Prepare yourself. Pray for the spirit. Pray for those who listen to know how much Heavenly Father loves them. Get a blessing. Fasting is probably the most powerful way to prepare yourself of all you can do. If you receive inspiration or revelation about your talk you will have done the most powerful thing you can do to prepare both yourself and your talk.

The Holy Ghost, if present, will help you speak with the tongue of an angel. Angels speak by the power of the Holy Ghost. Read 2 Nephi 32: 2-3.

2- Outline your ideas early.  Then you can be thinking of powerful ways to make the topic impactful. Decide your purpose. What do you want to accomplish? You will notice things and remember things in the days and weeks prior to your talk. Choose the main point and a few key sub points. Brainstorm first, then edit content later.

3- Think and pray about the specific needs of your audience. You may mention you are speaking specifically to the youth, or the singles, or the women, or the older high priests (who may be sleeping.) Go with the spirit. You may feel to change your approach. Don’t be afraid to do so.

4- Be passionate and enthusiastic. The word enthusiastic means “infused with spirit.”

5- Open up and share who your are. Give some of your “backstory” about your human side and how you overcame or grew. You don’t need to share specifics of past mistakes, but you can share things others can relate to.

I love this short video from my friend Lindsey Stirling who shares her own backstory of how she overcame anorexia as a teen:

Don’t be afraid to be real.

Be yourself.

Here is good pattern to use from God’s four aspects of communication.

Dr. Chauncey Riddle, of BYU teaches us that D&C 4 says we should love God with all four aspects of us: Heart, Might, Mind, and Strength.

Heart is desire or emotion. Might is influence or results. Mind is understanding or thought. Strength is the capacity of the body for action. Heart and Mind are your spirit. Your spirit and your body are your soul. Every thing outside of your soul is your Might or impact in the world. It is still part of you, but outside of the physical or spiritual you.

A good approach for any talk is to start with the Mind. This includes questions, ideas, scriptures, quotes or observations. Then move to the Heart with stories and testimony. Your personal testimony is when the Holy Ghost will come. Then go to Strength with a call-to-action and a specific challenge or take-away. These together will drive impact, influence, results or Might.

Mind is belief or thought. Heart is hope or desire. Strength is faith to act. Might is the end result or charity; the pure love of Christ. There is nothing greater.

How to start your talk:

1- Ask a question or share a compelling quote. Get people thinking quickly. Grab their interest.

2- Read a short, relevant scripture.

3- Make a relevant observation.

4- Comment on talks before you. This is usually the High Councilman technique where he congratulates and summarizes the talks before him. It is a kind thing to do and it works and it shows you were listening. This can be overused though, so watch yourself if you speak often so this doesn’t become a crutch.

5- Tell a story. President Monson and the Apostles are masters of telling stories. The Master Himself would craft a parable or story that had impact on several levels. When in doubt, use one of His or theirs.

President Thomas S. Monson is a master at telling stories

President Thomas S. Monson is a master at telling stories

6- Share an allegory or object lesson. This is often the most impactful thing you can do. Others will remember this and retell it if it is hard hitting and relevant.

How not to start your talk:

1- Don’t throw who assigned you the talk under the bus. Don’t go through how you were assigned the talk and how they just told you about it a few days ago. It makes both you and them look bad.

2- Define your topic. The dictionary is there for people to look up faith on their own. This is an old, worn out approach. We get it.

3- Don’t admit you are scared or nervous. All your credibility goes away immediately. You’ll be ok.

4- Don’t tell how much you don’t want to be there. Have faith you will have help. Faith and doubt can’t reside in the same person.

5- Don’t say “you don’t know me, but…” Just introduce yourself if they might not know you.

How to make your talk very interesting and relevant:

1- Teach something very compelling. Don’t just talk.

2- Don’t read the whole time. If you need to read, which is ok, pause and look up to your audience and say things or summarize in your own words occasionally. Practice in front of a mirror. If you are going to read, practice the words also so that you won’t struggle. Get some help if necessary. Help is ok.

3- Have a “quotable” one liner that is memorable. This is what your audience will probably share with others.

4- Teach something you are passionate and knowledgeable about. This is probably the single most important rule of great public speaking.

5- Make sure there is a call-to-action or take away. Give practical ideas that people can use.

6- Use humor sparingly, like President Hinckley or President Monson.

7- Back up or validate your points. Mention a clear scripture or doctrinal source, but don’t overdo the length of your sources. Mention books you found interesting.

How to end your talk:

1- Summarize the main point and key points.

2- The three E’s: Educate, Entertain, End on time.

3- Challenge to take your call-to-action.

4- Share your testimony and close in the name of Christ.

After your talk.

1- Get a little feedback. This is best from those who love you and that you trust to tell you what you did well and how you can improve for next time. Take a few notes.

If you do this, each talk will get better and better. Review your notes from previous talks and this list before you give your next talk. Save your notes and the final version of your talk so you will have it again for a later opportunity.

Just remember who you gave it to before.

God bless!

Welcome Baskets Help You Meet Your Neighbors

We moved to Mapleton, Utah nearly 2 years ago. We hardly knew anybody. We had been in Alpine, Utah for 18 years and felt like we had friends in every neighborhood.

We didn’t know where the church was, who are neighbors were, or any of the streets in Mapleton.

Then I was called to be Ward Mission Leader in a ward where there were only 5 non-Latter-Day Saints in the entire ward. What do you do?

You just go meet people. I got the ward directory, but like most wards, only about 1 out of 4 had taken time to put their pictures in the directory. So it was hard. We didn’t know where the classrooms were in Church. We didn’t know where anyone lived.

So after we found things out, we decided not to let that happen to anyone else who moved into our neighborhood.

So we made Welcome Baskets.

Welcome baskets are a great way to meet your neighbors and make it easier for new move ins.

Welcome baskets are a great way to meet your neighbors and make it easier for new move ins.

If you are a Latter-Day Saint you will like a map of the church building.

If not, you are welcome to come and see what a Mormon church meeting is like. And for everyone we have maps of the neighborhood, the city, and important phone numbers and a little history of Mapleton.

We bought a bunch of tin buckets with rope from Hobby Lobby, some tissue and plastic wrap from the dollar store, a bottle of Martinellis sparkling apple juice and some goodies like Pirouline hazelnut artisan rolled wafers, and we were ready to go. All under $10.

We soon ran out so we had to stock up 20 at a time. Now we are having fun taking them around and meeting all the new people.

Now we are going to go around and take pictures of everyone so we can finish the neighborhood directory.


Social Media Certification Great Preparation for How To Be a Social Media Missionary

The Utah National Parks Council of the Boy Scouts of America is offering a Social Media Certification program, in six levels, complete with a patch for each level. The certification program has been put together by a Social Media Certification Advisory Panel that has designed the CORE Certification program to be earned in about 2 hours and the additional levels to each sequentially be more difficult yet impactful.

The Social Media Certification program will be great preparation for LDS youth and adults to teach them How to Be a Social Media Missionary to share social and digital media tips, techniques, and best practices. The Social Media Certification is non-denominational and applies to any non-profit, church, business, or personal use of social and digital media.

The levels are:

The Social Media Certification Patch has 6 sections: Core, Coach, Curator, Creator, Collaborator, and Consultant

The Social Media Certification Patch has six sections: Core, Coach, Curator, Creator, Collaborator, and Consultant

Level 1 = CORE Certification
Level 2 = Coach
Level 3 = Curator
Level 4 = Creator
Level 5 = Collaborator
Level 6 = Consultant

The Social Media Certification program is designed for both youth and adults. The focus of this certification program is:

  • Safety with social and digital media
  • Purposeful use of social media
  • How to prepare content for your own social media
  • How to comment and connect on social media
  • How to collaborate to improve your social media exposure
  • How to create great content on social and digital media
  • To encourage sharing of your story and beliefs
  • To increase capacity to share and support scouting

President Monson Teaches Four Ways to Find People to Share the Gospel

President Thomas S. Monson shares the best way to help a member family share the gospel by helping missionaries find people to teach. Watch first minute and a half. Transcript below.

“The best way for a mission to achieve its optimum productivity is to involve the members in the process of contacting, teaching, and fellowshipping.”

“For missionaries to ask a member family, ‘do you have any referrals for us?’ will yield minimum results. However, if the missionaries in the comfortable setting of the member families home discuss the plan of salvation, this provides answers to the universal questions of the human heart: Where did I come from, why am I hear on earth, where do I go when I die?”

“Then the stage is set for the penetrating questions:”

  • “First, whom do you know who has recently lost a loved one?”
  • “Second, whom do you know who has welcomed a newly born child to the family?
  • “Third, whom do you know who has recently moved into the neighborhood?”
  • “Fourth, whom do you know who has experienced difficulty coping with their teenage children?”

“Then the Lord has provided the answers to the questions of those who have had these experiences. They are far more apt to respond favorably to the member family’s invitation to learn.”

A Ward Mission Leader We Can All Learn From

Brother Vaughn Judi of the Mapleton 20th Ward moved to Mapleton about a year ago. He moved here from Emery County and was immediately called to be the ward mission leader.

The first thing he noticed when he moved to Utah, as he started going to meet people who are not of our faith in his ward, was that the reception he received was often somewhat chilly, something he had not experienced down in Emery County.

He hypothesized that so many well-meaning members of the church have approached these people for so long, that they had developed a defense mechanism whereby they immediately push back when approached about the gospel.

So instead, he just loved them, and was pleasantly persistent.

Last night I got to go on splits with Brother Judi for one hour. I’m in a different ward, but I called him up and asked if he needed a junior companion. I told him I wanted to learn from him what he does that is having so much impact in his ward and our stake.

You see, his ward teaches as many discussions as all the rest of our stake put together… every week.

He replied, I don’t do anything special, I just try and love and serve and be persistent.

I asked him how often he goes out, and he said, “we’re so busy teaching discussions, that I don’t get out as much to meet new people as I used to. But as soon as we don’t have enough people to teach, I just go out visiting again.”

He doesn’t like to think about the numbers, meaning our Stake goal of having two discussions a week per ward for the full-time missionaries. He says it puts it in a different perspective than what he likes to think of. Instead, he just thinks about the people and their needs.

But it is interesting, he has more ‘numbers’ than anyone else by a significant factor… By not focusing on the numbers at all!

As I met at his home, he had us start with a word of prayer. His prayer was pretty long, and he asked that the Spirit of the Lord would proceed us to the homes of those we were about to visit.

We visited four homes in one hour.

He pulled out a crumpled handwritten list from his pocket of all the families he had been thinking about lately.

It was written in pencil, not a computer printout or anything.

The first house nobody was home.

And he kept saying, “you know Sunday evenings aren’t always the best to find those at home who are not members of our faith, or haven’t been coming much lately.”

I asked why.

He grinned and looked at me like I was just a little slow and said, “today’s the last day of the deer hunt. And if you’re not coming to church it’s cause you’re out doing something else on Sunday, and you usually aren’t back until later in the evening.”

He continued, “So I also go out one or two nights a week, and I’m a lot more successful finding people at home.”

I ask if he calls to set appointments first, and he said “only if people ask me to.” He said, “I like to just visit, because it gets me into there lives.”

I noticed he had a stack of orange flyers on the floor of the car, they talked about a ‘trunk or treat’ party coming up on Halloween night. He said he always likes to have something fun or interesting to invite people to.

This was just on a circle in a neighborhood in the ward, in somebody’s driveway, with hot chocolate and donuts. Everyone we went to was interested in coming by, and bringing their kids.

The next three homes in a row all let us in to talk for a while. In each home we sat or stood and Brother Judi just chatted and talked and conversed and showed he cared, he knew a little something about each family, and learned a lot more as he conversed.

I asked him how he knew who to visit.

He said he worked closely with the bishop and the ward clerk to learn those who needed to progress to the next saving ordinances in the Gospel. Whether it was going to the temple, getting the priesthood, or having a spouse or child baptized; he had done his homework on each family and new what they needed.

He said he also watches who comes to church and who doesn’t.

He seeks them out because he cares.

Then he just helps them start reading the scriptures, saying their prayers, and coming out on Sunday to church. Every one of the families we met with seems to appreciate him and appreciated a little nudge here and there.

Before we went into each home, he reviewed with me the names of the mother and father, and each child or young adult. He had all their names written down neatly in pencil.

I watched what he said at the door.

He said “I’m still a little new here, and would love to just get to know you more, could we come in and just visit for a bit?”

Every single family that was home invited us in.

We talked about people we knew, the family pet, whether a cat or dog, the children in the home, the schools they were going to, the things they enjoyed, the hobbies that they had, the deer hunt and how it was going, the job of the wife or the husband, or just whatever came up that was of interest.

The common thing I noted was that Brother Judi was interested in everything they said. He leaned forward on the edge of his chair and kept the conversation going.

At the fourth home of the evening, as we were about to leave, he said, “we have a great pair of missionaries in our area who have some lessons that could really help you get to the temple, could I bring them by to share those with you?”

They said yes, and he set an appointment for the following Sunday afternoon at 2 o’clock.

At no home did we stay very long, just to the point when the conversation started to lag a little bit, we would say her goodbyes, commit to visit again, and go see another family.

We always offered to leave with a word of prayer, and every single family took us up on our offer.

He said the other thing he likes to do is offer for the missionaries to come by and just bless them and their homes.

And I’m thoroughly convinced, that the second and third families will receive that same invitation to meet with the missionaries and respond the same way, when they are ready.

And Brother Judi will follow up with love, until they do.

On my way home I stopped at our bishops house and shared the wonderful experience I had just had.

Then I called our stake High Councilman over missionary work and shared the same thing over the phone.

I asked them both, what would it be like if all of us were like Brother Judi?