“Technology Leaves Teens Speechless”: One More Reason for Youth to Give Frequent Talks in Church

USA Today’s article, “Technology Leaves Teens Speechless,” highlights the decreasing oral communication skills of many young people who spend hours text messaging or chatting online instead of actually talking to others. It’s taking a toll in verbal skills. For example, in job interviews many young applicants can’t give thoughtful responses to questions. Employers are noticing. I’m noticing, too.

Fortunately, many active LDS youth are given opportunities to develop their verbal skills by being asked to give short talks in Church. Given the technological speech impairment that many suffer from, perhaps these opportunities need to be more frequent. Perhaps more youth activities need to have some subtle or overt emphasis on verbal skills.

One thing is for sure: in Corporate America, the people who can’t talk well rapidly fall behind those who can. In most jobs, you can’t text message your way to success, though maintaining a network of business contacts can be extremely valuable. But the ability to talk face-to-face or the ability to give a speech or presentation before a group is vastly more valuable than your ability to chat online.


Author: Jeff Lindsay

9 thoughts on ““Technology Leaves Teens Speechless”: One More Reason for Youth to Give Frequent Talks in Church

  1. How often are youth supposed to speak? We rarely have youth speakers, maybe one every 3 or 4 months. My 17 year old has been asked to speak twice. my 16 year old once. My 13 year old never. So what are the guidelines? We don’t have that many youth so there should be ample opportunity for all.

  2. In our ward, we had a youth speaker every week (we did have a high number of youth though).

    Great post, Jeff. People using text-message acronyms in everyday speech? LOL

  3. We have a youth speaker every week, and there are only 8 active youth about. So we each give a talk about every other month.

  4. I agree. Emailing and/or text messaging-as opposed to actual conversation-allows one to manipulate the information they convey without the need for a real-time response. I don’t know if I would say that this is the main cause of young applicants not being able to give thoughtful responses to questions. I would place more blame on TV and video games for that. at least with internet, you’re still processing words. This should build one’s vocabulary, which ultimately leads to greater intelligence. But what do i know. its 330 in the morning. Nice winged-talk on sunday, Jeff.

  5. Typically this is stuff that is taught in college. But Mormons who engage in public speaking definitely have a leg up.

  6. Okay…I’m 21. I joined the Church when I was about 17, so my first exposure to LDS youth and culture was mainly among that age group. I have to say, I WAS impressed with their mostly superior displays of if not intelligence, then articulance (I think I just made up a word…) but, I also have to say, they spent as much time chatting online and playing video games as the rest of the non-LDS kids out there. I think the big difference with them is the amount and quality of social interaction they had- They spent their time with their families, at youth group, or doing other (mostly) wholesome things with friends. In all of these situations, there are two huge differences I see between what those kids do and what most kids that age do. They are thus

    a.)no drinking, drugs, or isolated boy/girl activity. All of these situations reduce the amount of (intelligent) communication needed to pass time and socialize. When a bunch of sober kids get together to play board games, there’s a lot more thinking and language development than a bunch of kids that get together to smoke pot. (as a foot note, sober/drug-free kids also do lightyears better than their counterparts in school, helping them develop their verbal skills in the most obvious setting)

    b.) these kids didn’t swear. Now, being a convert to the church, I can tell you first hand the difference between swearing and not swearing in conversation. Swearing is easier. People instantly know what you mean and they know your emotions with one word. NOT swearing is a much more rewarding way of speaking in my opinion, because you, in a way, forced to use more words and sort of translate what you would say into a much more creative sentence. I think it’s awesome, to listen to people, especially young people, have an entire animated conversation without using one swear word.

    Okay, now that I’ve ranted about that for awhile, I have another point to make; before I joined the Church, I had never given a talk in front of a crowd so large before. And certainly I had never delivered a successful speech, because I suffered from almost debilitating shyness and stage fright (I ran out of my drama class crying and quit before the first week was over, for example) But once I gave my first talk in Church… well, something amazing happened. I can only attribute it to the spirit, because not only did I manage to deliver a decent talk without fainting or wetting my pants, but I could suddenly do things like share my most personal testimony in front of a whole congregation of people without fear. Amazing. I can’t tell you how much it’s helped me in these transitional years of my life to have the Church to buoy me up that way.

    I think Latter-day saint youth have a distinct advantage over their peers for all the reasons I mentioned. I have always been impressed with how well-adjusted children from active homes are because of their opporunities to do things like give talks, pray vocally in class, and sing in front of the ward. I think another thing that helps is social activity in the ward and the very MOST important thing is the involvement LDS parents have in their kids’ education and development.

    And besides all that, nothing is cuter than a group of 5-year-olds singing “I am a child of God” at the top of their lungs on the stand each month.

  7. There should be a youth speaker EVERY week. Read the handbook.
    How often? They should be scheduled when they have their 6 month interviews with the Bishopric!

  8. My handbook says about youth speakers:
    “Members of the bishopric regularly invite youth ages 12 through 17 to speak in sacrament meeting. Youth should speak briefly (five minutes each) on assigned gospel subjects. They should prepare their own talks, though the bishopric may encourage parents to help. In addition, the bishopric may call a speech specialist to help youth learn to prepare talks and speak in public. The speech specialist is a member of the activities committee.”

    I am a High Councilor. I spoke this last week. I was told that there would be two youth speakers and so I should prepare extra material. The youth were the Ward’s Seminary Graduates. They did an excellent job. They left me 15 minutes, which was just fine. I had prepared enough for 35 minutes. Several members said that it was as good as General Conference.

    I work for a global, multi-billion dollar company. I had to give a presentation to our company’s president and VPs. Afterwards, the president asked where I had learned to speak in public so well. He wanted to have people trained. I replied that I learned in Church and as a missionary. Send them on over!

  9. I don’t know how much speaking twice a year (or less) in Sacrament for five minutes helps, but I know there are plenty of unusually articulate children in our Primary. By the age of 11 most of them have given at least twenty, and probably closer to 30, talks in front of their peers; only the ones under 8 get much (if any) help from their parents. Even the ones as young as 6 are often actually writing their own talks, which impresses me, since hardly any of the people I meet outside of church are even comfortable writing their own short papers for school. And those are college students.

    For what it’s worth, IMing and emailing generally improved my ability to speak/think quickly and coherently — but then, when I was 16/17, it was fashionable to hold 6 separate conversations on lengthy and complicated topics via ICQ, and do your homework, watch TV, and work on the latest group fanfic chapter at the same time. I also type really, really fast now. And for the record, those ICQ logs totalled 1mb or more of pure text per person I talked with, over the course of six months or so (in other words, that was a lot of chatting.) And our fanfic went well over 200,000 words, sadly enough. It was quite the outlet for a bunch of wordy, geeky people.

    Of course, we had an absolute ban on “l33t”-speak. It’s just irritating.

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