Giving a talk is a simple family home evening idea

How to Give a Talk – the Basics

Prepare a 5 minute talk for a quick Family Home Evening idea. Or teach the basics for public speaking during FHE.

Most people get nervous about speaking in public. Whether you need to speak for 5 minutes or 30 minutes, here is a simple pattern for successful talks. This pattern will allow the spirit to accompany your words more effectively. Our family uses these ideas for sacrament meeting talks, primary talks, during FHE lessons, and sometimes for speaking at school and work.

We’ve also decided it was important for our children to have more opportunities to talk and explore their testimony. We often learn more by preparing and giving a talk or spiritual message than just listening to a lesson. Every month, we try to give one child the opportunity to give a 5 minute talk for family home evening. This helps their testimony and their confidence in public speaking.

So here are the 4 simple steps to get through a 5 minute (or longer) talk:

1. Tell a personal story

Starting with a personal story benefits you and your audience. Usually people feel more comfortable telling a familiar story and will be able to speak naturally, with energy and inflection, and without reading from a paper. It helps you get beyond the initial nerves usually associated with public speaking. Telling a story is also a very effective way to capture an audience’s attention. Your story could be directly related to your topic or not. The idea is that you will eventually relate your story to your topic.

2. Introduce your topic

When discussing gospel topics, stick to true and clear principles and avoid personal interpretations. Try to use your own words as much as possible, but include short quotes from scriptures, general authorities, or church publications. Make sure the references are from a clear authority. If you introduce ideas and concepts by saying “I don’t remember where I heard this, but…” you are probably headed in the wrong direction.

3. Describe how your principle relates to your story

This is a well observed pattern from the scriptures. Christ consistently uses parables to teach principles. It is an effective way for people to relate to concepts and ideas in new ways.

4. Bare your personal testimony of the topic

Express your testimony of true principles. Try to highlight blessings associated with obedience to true principles, especially if you have personally experienced them. Be sure to use the words “I know…” as part of your testimony. Close in the name of Christ (unless you are speaking at a school or work function!)

Here are some more tips to make your talks even better

Make sure you start studying your topic early.

When you start studying your topic early, you will reflect on ideas throughout the day and begin thinking of stories that relate to your topic. I am known to procrastinate. By studying and pondering throughout the week, I can prepare effective and engaging talks even when I wait until the last-minute to put the ideas together.

We recommend studying Gospel topics from the following sources:

Resist the urge to write your talk.

Use a simple outline with key words and short quotes that can help you stay on track. Practice a few times and it will surprise you how starting with a story will help your words and ideas continue to flow.

Don’t be afraid to follow the spirit.

Don’t be surprised if you receive inspiration in the last few minutes before your talk. I’ve found lots of inspiration from people who spoke before me that I could refer to in my talk. All it takes is writing in a small reminder on your outline.

Over prepare and decide ahead of time which items can be skipped.

Sometimes a 5 minute talk actually needs to fill 20 minutes and sometimes you only have 5 minutes to give a 20 minute talk. When you narrow down your key points, you will focus on the most important ideas when time is running short.

After practicing this method you will find it is very easy to speak for 5 minutes without reading from a paper by following this pattern. If you are not careful, your story may take the whole 5 minutes. As you practice this pattern, longer talks will get easier as well.

We want to know how you are using these techniques with your family. Leave us comments to share your ideas.

These techniques were influenced by lessons taught by Dale Carnegie. For more advice on public speaking, we recommend his book “The Quick and Easy Way to Effective Speaking“.

Share your ideas or how you used ours