general conference april 2013
salt lake city, ut
While preparing for this general conference, I have made a list that I call, "10 Principles of Learning at General Conference." These are a few things that for me have made all the difference in my conference experience. It is by no means intended to be a comprehensive list and over time I anticipate it will still change. But if you're seeking for ways or ideas to help conference mean more to you, maybe you can take some principle away from my list, apply it and see how conference blesses your life a little bit more.
1. Prepare. Prepare. Prepare.
This preparation happens in a lot of different ways...I'm going to throw a bunch of things out that have helped me prepare
- Writing down questions and taking them to the Lord through prayer and keeping them visible throughout conference. This is critical. If nothing else, do this. I have been working on my questions for a while now and I've been taking them to the Lord in prayer and pondering them in my heart. This has made all the difference for my conference experience.
- Frequently listen to general conference talks. Listen to previous conferences to prepare for future conference. Let the Lord tutor you in how he talks to you. You're also showing the Lord how much you treasure His word.
- In the week prior to conference, do 4 things: 1. Fast, 2. Attend the temple, 3. Serve, 4. Right a wrong. One of my former bishop's wives was in the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. She shared that this is what they are asked to do the week prior to general conference. I still remember the distinct impression I had as she shared this that this was a critical formula.
- Get adequate rest. Enough said.
- Watch as much of conference live as you can. Be where you can be taking notes. I find that the first time I listen to a talk is when I get the most out of it and if I can listen live I tend to get more out of it as well.
- Be in a clean, spirit conducive environment. I need to listen in "peace and quiet" as my sister would say. While not always possible, it is a good thing to strive for.
- Get "other stuff" done before so you can focus on conference. I like to multitask which at times has made this one hard; however, its so so worth it. Plus your mind is at rest when as much of that "other stuff" is done and can be out of your mind.
- Pray about how to get the most out of conference. The Lord will help you know how best to help yourself prepare.
- Decide how you're going to take notes at conference. For me, this is exciting because I am a lover of all things "school supplies!" Notebooks, pens, pencils, highlighters, whatever it is, I just love it. If I am starting a new study journal, one that I'm likely going to carry around the next 6 months, I usually take notes in there, if I'm at the end of a study journal and its not going to last till the next conference, I usually take notes in a small journal I can carry with me in my scripture case for the next 6 months so I can refer back to it, remember, and use what I learned.
2. Be ready to listen and learn
- Again, get enough sleep. 8 hours is a long time, and brethren, 10 hours in one weekend is a challenge. It takes some spiritual and physical endurance. For those of us who have the opportunity to watch from the comfort of our own homes, sometimes this is a blessing and sometimes it is a curse because we can watch it wrapped up in our blankets and quilts. So be well rested so you can get the most out of the time you're devoting.
- Look the part. This historically and presently has been difficult for me. I have looked to conference as a break from getting ready; however, I am a huge proponent of dressing the part. I'd dress up to take tests (sometimes*) in grad school because I wanted to look successful to tell myself I was going to be successful. I believe the same applies. I feel like I'm going to get more out of it when I look the part.
- Have snacks. Done.
- Be spiritually ready. Really here I think the biggest thing is to know how the Lord talks to you. If we are being consistent in studying the scriptures and praying, this is generally easier in my opinion. Do whatever you need to to be ready to hear and feel what he has to tell you through the Holy Ghost.
- Have a pen and paper ready. Coming from this compulsive note taker...this is critical. Write down the thoughts you have because you might not have them again.
- Go on walks in between sessions and prior. Again with the being awake concept. :)
- Turn off the stuff. We live in a society of smart phones, laptops and ipads...we check facebook automatically, instagram, pin things, whatever...leave your phone in the charging station or away from your fingers. An entire talk could have come and gone before you realize how much time you've spent communing with your phone rather than listening to the prophet. Eek!
3. Review your questions frequently.
I really like to have my questions on a note card or some place in my notebook that is easily accessible so I can review them frequently.
4. Focus on your thoughts and feelings.
Sometimes I almost transcribe the whole talk...but that's not the point. The point is that I write down the inspiration I receive. The words that they say will be posted but the impressions I have will never be published unless I write them down.
5. Note patterns and things that stand out.
One of my favorite activities is to write down summaries of each conference. What themes stood out? What recurring thoughts did I keep having? What patterns are in my notes as I review them? What was the Lord trying to tell me? What do I need to change? What does he want me to observe in myself? I then love later going back and comparing what themes stuck out to me initially and then what themes stick out 6 months later.
6. Write things you're going to do because of what you have felt and learned.
Coming from someone with a perpetual to-do list, this is key for me. I like to keep a list of do impressions as it were that I can tape in my journal and go and do as a result of conference. Sometimes, I've also called this my focus list, just things to focus on over the next 6 months.
7. Re-read, re-listen and re-view.
Never be afraid to go back and ask the Lord, is there more? Even after studying talks for 6 months, I still learn new things, different things still impress me and even now sometimes I think...do I remember this talk? Because different things will end up standing out to me. I love that we can go back, that I can dial up a talk and listen to it while I drive, while I get ready in the morning, anytime. Its an easy way to fill my life with good things!
8. Keep your commitments.
If there was a change you felt prompted to make, make it. If you felt like you needed to do something as a result of what you heard or felt, do it. Remember that the Lord blesses us by what we do with what we are given. And where much is given much is required. If it was right on Saturday afternoon during conference, it will still be right on Monday evening.
9. Keep conference in your heart.
Review your notes. Its also always a personal goal of mine to re-read every conference talk by the following conference. This time I'm going to try to watch, read, or listen to a conference talk everyday between conferences. And before you discredit this...in a world of technology and smart phones, its SO easy to listen to talks as we exercise, garden, commute (that's what I do), get ready, shower, prepare meals, etc. There are so many ways we can keep conference in our hearts, just find a way that works for you to do it.
10. Express gratitude to the Lord for living Prophets and Apostles. Pray for them for the following conference.
These good brethren need our prayers. I can't imagine all the time, effort, labour and diligence they put into preparing these talks, and for the first presidency to prepare two, even three talks...I just can't even imagine. They need our faith and prayers! Also it is so important to thank Our Heavenly Father for what we have learned, for living prophets and for the blessings that come into our life as we listen and learn from latter-day prophets.
Now it's your turn. What works for you? How do you prepare for general conference? What is something new you will try to prepare for this general conference?