I gave a talk yesterday. Like most people, I’m not enthralled with the concept of public speaking. Seinfeld famously noted that more people list public speaking as a fear than death, so people would rather be in the casket than giving the eulogy. If you were to ask me “Hey, do you want to talk to a large group of people?” my answer would be not particularly. But if you were to ask me “Hey, do you want to talk to a person?” my answer would also be not particularly. My desire to communicate is conditional on the person, or in this case, the group of people. But my ward is a group of people that I’m generally interested in communicating with/at/for.
I don’t think giving a talk is very hard. Ten minutes is not really that much time to fill. Certainly giving a worthwhile talk isn’t about filling ten minutes of time with anything that comes to mind, but the fact remains that you only need two or three points to express and then you’ve run out of time. So here is a quick guide of what I generally try to include in a talk:
1. I don’t start with “I was assigned to talk about”
2. I generally start with some sort of obvious joke. This is a general practice many will follow, but I do it specifically for my own reasons. Some people can’t tell when I’m joking, so I start with a more obvious joke so they’ll pick up that there will be jokes along the way and that I’m not being entirely serious throughout.
3. I like to have an actual thesis.
4. I try to include a scripture not from the main section I’m referencing.
5. I try not to read more than 2 scriptures verbatim.
6. I don’t quote scripture mastery scriptures, or other commonly referenced verses. I may reference them, but not quote them.
7. I’ve learned not to get too abstract. I initially wanted to talk about how we each had our own personal “wicked traditions of our fathers/selves” but scrapped it for being too nebulous.
8. I try to quote a general authority. Extra points for Bruce R.
9. I try to quote a non general authority, but never CS Lewis or Dr Seuss. This week it was Rasputin.
10. I try to throw in bit of medicine or psychology. This week I had comments regarding scorpion induced pancreatitis, behavioral replacement and decreasing drug resistance to antibiotics, but sadly had to cut them due to time constraints.
11. I tell a personal story, 2 if they’re short. I generally try to avoid mission stories (as they are more things that happened to me, rather than things I have intentionally done.)
12. I like to throw in references to the other talks given, if applicable.
13. I try to incorporate testimony into the message of the talk rather than have a whole mini-talk at the end of my talk for my testimony.
If I do all those things, I’ll run over. Which is itself a problem, but it means I’ll have a serviceable talk that just needs some winnowing.