The Trauma of Giving Talks: What “The Mormons” Left Out

Any serious effort to truly understand the Mormon experience must include, shortly after a discussion of the Restoration and the Plan of Salvation, the Mormon practice of asking ordinary members of the congregation to give sermons (“talks” in LDS parlance). The experience, or rather, trauma, of giving talks is a key element of Mormonism, especially for the youth. Gratefully, the mysteries of preparing a typical Mormon talk have been revealed over at BCC (By Common Consent). I was glad to see that local Wisconsin Mormons have been giving their talks by the book, according to BCC’s useful guidelines.

Why do so many talks begin with a reference to the trauma of giving a talk? Simple – because it’s one of the experiences that mortals tend to fear most. Public speaking is one of the keys to success in life, and I think giving people that experience over and over in the Church helps many of our members do much more with their careers or education or general effectiveness in life, so please don’t shun this blessing, no matter how much you fear giving a talk.


Author: Jeff Lindsay

5 thoughts on “The Trauma of Giving Talks: What “The Mormons” Left Out

  1. A timely post since my wife and I just gave ‘talks’ a couple of weeks ago for the first time. I swore that I wouldn’t start out by talking about the process leading up to the talk, so I find it funny that you actually mention that phenomenon. Now that it is over I have a hundred things I would do differently and think it was a good experience, but leading up to ‘the event’ was truly nerve racking for the both of us.

  2. The aside about how giving a talk was less desirable than waterboarding for some people was in bad taste and has been removed.

  3. I got that sour pit of my stomach feeling reading this post, and I don’t have to give a talk! Just thinking about it is enough.

  4. You made a very good point. Besides the german equivaelt of a high school degree and a completed apprenticeship I have no formal training for my current job. It is only through the various calligns at church, on my mission and giving talks that I fell I can ably do my job and be a manager. Truth be told, a lot of what we learn hands on at church only serves to sharpen our “common sense”.

  5. A local talk show here in Salt Lake City called “RadioWest,” hosted at the local public radio station on the University of Utah campus, had a program several years ago about Homosexuality/the Gay community in Salt Lake City. One of those interviewed, who had left the church, mentioned that one of the side benefits of having been a member of the church was that it was good for being a leader and organizer in the Gay community because of all the activities involved in preparing and giving talks (plus, of course, being involved in the other programs in the church).

    There’s just no way to give all the angles and perspectives of any subject in four hours.

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