The first time I was asked to teach a lesson, I said, “But I don’t know anything about this subject.” I was told, “Then that must be why God wanted you to teach it.”
It can be overwhelming to be asked to give a talk when you don’t know anything about the subject you’ve been asked to talk about. However, preparing a talk is a wonderful way to learn about a doctrine. By the time you’ve done the research, you’ll know more than you can put into a talk and it will probably become the subject you know best.
Start by going to LDS.org and reading as much as you can on the subject. Then ask your home teacher or visiting teacher to talk with you about the topic, as well. They can answer your questions and make sure you really understand the doctrine.
Once you know the subject well, think about what part of the subject you’re most interested in talking about. Most subjects are too large to cover in one talk. For instance, you might be asked to talk about prayer. Prayer is a huge topic, so try to choose only one part of prayer to cover, such as family prayer.
Make a list of three or four main points you want to cover in your talk. each of those points, write one scripture or a quote from a church leader. Next, list a few points you want to make about that part of the subject. Put it all in order. You have the outline of a talk.
Tell one or two short personal stories in your talk. Don’t tell anything that should be private or that is about another person. Don’t discuss serious sins. Keep your story short and to the point, leaving out any information that isn’t important to the message. Make sure your story teaches a lesson about the subject—never tell a story just for entertainment.
Write your talk word for word. If you’re used to speaking, you can then make an outline and speak from it, but if you need to read your talk, don’t be embarrassed. No one will mind. Even experienced members often read a talk.
Because we all have to take our turns giving talks, we’re all very understanding of one another. We know what it’s like to stand there, nervous and unsure. When a brand new member does it, no matter how nervous he seems, everyone admires his courage for giving a talk. This is your moment to shine—have fun!
Terrie Lynn Bittner
The late Terrie Lynn Bittner—beloved wife, mother, grandmother, and friend—was the author of two homeschooling books and numerous articles, including several that appeared in Latter-day Saint magazines. She became a member of the Church at the age of 17 and began sharing her faith online in 1992.