Building one great talk out of another



A young friend recently wrote the following: “My bishop asked me to give a talk based on John B Dickson’s talk, “Commitment to the Lord”. I’ve studied it, watched it, and read it several times but I’m having trouble actually converting it into a talk… (This is actually my first real talk, as I was inactive the majority of my teenage years). Any suggestions? What key points would you include? What do you guys think is the biggest “moral” of the talk? Thanks so much guys, sorry for so nervous about it, I’m new to all this!”

So I threw together some advice for him on how to build one great talk out of another.

So, a crash course for you: Don’t convert THAT talk into YOUR talk. That’s not the point.

The point is to:

  1. Understand the topic of that talk.
  2. Look for what points the author makes to support and expand upon the topic. maybe quote 1 or 2 of his statements. nothing more.
  3. Share your own personal thoughts about #2. They could be in the form of anecdotes from your own life (meaningful, sincere, personal stories are the most effective way to teach Gospel Principles), scriptures, quotes, etc.)
  4. Share your personal thoughts and insights about the topic in general.
  5. Share what you think the topic has to do with Jesus Christ and how we can strengthen our relationship with Him.
  6. Teach you how to think on your own and develop your own personal speaking skills. Let that talk be a catalyst for your own thoughts…not a blueprint for what you’re supposed to say.

Here’s an easy framework to build your talk upon:

A) Introduction and opening story:

B) 2-3 major points you want to make

C) Conclusion and testimony

One final thing: please do NOT say any of the following:

  • “When the Bishop called me up and asked me to speak about…”,
  • “Webster’s dictionary defines…”,
  • “I’ve never really given a talk before…”,
  • “I didn’t really prepare…”, or anything of the sort.

Don’t tell us why we shouldn’t listen to you. Just dive right in to your material.

Do your best.

Trust in the Spirit, and be worthy of it.

Speak from your heart, for that is where God speaks to you.

You’ll do awesome.

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