Tips for Talks and Lessons #5A: The Power of Personal Experiences

There is power in personal experiences. Sharing such experiences can be:

  • Interesting
  • Entertaining
  • Impactful
  • Heartwarming
  • Moving
  • Touching
  • Spiritual
  • Enlightening
  • Persuasive
  • Memorable

            “It is admitted that statements of personal experience, spoken or written, carry more force and make a more lasting impression upon the minds of the hearers and readers than can be made any other way.” (Heber J. Grant, Gospel Standards, p. 265)

            “One of the most effective methods we can use when teaching …. is to share a personal experience and then relate it to the point we are making…. Telling stories from your life …adds power to what you teach. The events that have shaped our character and make us who we are can be tools in the hands of the Lord to help others when we use them appropriately.” (“Telling Personal Stories,” Richard Nash, The Ensign, Sep 2002)

One reason why personal experiences are so effective is that they have touched our hearts—and when we speak of things that we feel deeply, it is more likely that we’ll be able to touch the hearts of others. If you read a lesson and tell a story in someone else’s words, it won’t have the same impact. … It is easier for us to apply a truth if we can see it in action in someone else’s life. And it is easier to commit to live a truth if we can feel the Spirit through those experiences of other people.” (Gene R. Cook, See: (“Telling Personal Stories,” Richard Nash, The Ensign, Sep. 2002.)

General conference talks are models of personal experiences used to teach gospel principles. We love the stories of Thomas Monson being led by the Spirit while going “to the rescue” of others.  We relish the experiences of Dieter Uchtdorf as he piloted jets and struggled as a child in post-war Germany.

   

         Everyone has interesting personal experiences to share.  They need not be “spectacular” to make a point.  Recall, Thomas Monson based an entire talk on simply seeing a sign in the window of a furniture maker that read, “Finishers Wanted.” Remember when he wiggled his ears, or the deacons on the front row mimicked his movements on the stand.

            An added bonus, personal stories are easy to tell.  You can rely on your memory instead of your notes.  This will increase your eye contact and enhance your demeanor.

            In conclusion, “When we share appropriate personal experiences by the Spirit …  the Lord will use the gospel principles we have learned to touch the hearts of those who are listening and change lives for good. We will be able to more effectively fulfill our responsibilities as teachers of the gospel of Jesus Christ.” (“Telling Personal Stories,” Richard Nash, The Ensign, Sep. 2002.)

(www.londonedition.net)

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