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In The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, we have no professionally paid clergy to give weekly sermons. As such, members of local congregations are asked to speak.

Here are 10 suggestions to keep in mind when preparing and delivering a sacrament meeting talk from personal experience. Ideally, these suggestions will help increase the quality of our talks and add to the spirituality of the Sabbath day meeting. There are five don’ts and five dos.

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1. Don’t give excuses

There’s no need to start out apologizing or saying, “I’m not prepared,” or “I don’t like to speak in public,” or “I didn’t start writing my talk until late last night.” The Lord revealed to the Prophet Joseph Smith, “If ye are prepared, ye shall not fear.” (D&C 38:30.) Even so, butterflies are normal. Public speaking isn’t easy, but it’s better not to give excuses.

2. Don’t announce the topic

With rare exception, those who give talks in general conference don’t announce what they’re going to talk about, they just start teaching. Theirs is a good example to follow. Saying, “I have been asked to talk about (such and such),” or “I’m going to talk about (such and such)” isn’t necessary. Just begin.

3. Don’t tell jokes

While there is a time and place for appropriate humor, even in sacrament meeting, some people may force jokes because laughter can be calming. The problem is doing so can draw away from the spirit of the meeting. Furthermore, sometimes jokes come in the form of stories that can take up valuable time that could be used for edifying and uplifting members of the congregation.

To read the full article at Deseret News, click here.