I went to give a talk the other night at a ward Relief Society. Because of my schedule and being a mom, I normally can’t accept ward invitations. This isn’t for any reason other than not having enough time to accept all the speeches I am invited to give and needing to cut back somehow. So I can accept two stake events per week. But I had an open time and a ward RS president invited me to come so I got to come!
I knew that this would be a smaller group than what I normally speak to and I was excited. I always write my talks based on the themes they tell me, but then I change what I say depending on how the Spirit leads. Before I spoke at this ward Relief Society evening I prayed and told Heavenly Father that the group was very small and I knew that through His help He could use me to send a specific message to each sister in attendance. I tell stories and I have so many that I mix and match for each theme I speak on so I had plenty of stories to choose from, but I needed God’s help to know which ones to share and God’s help to tie them altogether in a cohesive talk.
I began by telling the sisters the first few stories on my talk that I’d written, but then my talk went wild. My talks usually focus around one to four specific messages. I can tell stories to teach one to four specific points of doctrine (John F. Kennedy said that “Public speaking is the art of taking a two-minute idea and lengthening it out with a two-hour vocabulary.” Yup.) It is good to keep focused on just one to four points. For this Relief Society talk, I’d originally written a message on just two points – following the promptings of the Holy Ghost and service, but as I spoke the stories the Spirit told me to say I talked about prayer, then individual worth, then repentance, then prayer again, then keeping the commandments, then reading the scriptures, then prayer again and getting answers to prayer through the scriptures, then eternal marriage, then individual worth again and God’s love for each of us, then family history, then service, then acting on promptings, then angels love for us, the God’s love for us, then keeping the commandments again, then stories of the Savior from the Bible..
And I am sure I don’t remember all that I even said.
Afterwards, a sweet old lady approached me and said that she had the “best seat in the house” (she was right in front). She told me that she had heard me speak before and she was so impressed by how I always give such great, cohesive talks that teach so many things.
Many people afterward told me that my talk was “just for them” and I said things that answered their questions and helped them through their current trials. I am not able to take credit for doing this – at all. When I identify myself as a “speaker” that is exactly how I see myself. A speaker.
And if I am careful and if I am listening, I can project a message much more powerful than anything I could write on my own.