One very helpful tip my husband taught me is to be flexible when teaching a class or giving a talk. Be prepared which segment you’re going to sacrifice if you don’t have enough time to get through the whole talk or lesson. Also be prepared with something extra to add if you whip through your talk or lesson faster than anticipated.
I remember using this skill in sacrament meeting once, as an enthusiastic speaker didn’t look at the clock, and took up triple the time allotted to them. I sat quietly in my seat with my talk and a pen, crossing out a paragraph here and a story there until I’d whittled my 12 minute talk down to 5 minutes of material. It all worked out 🙂
Elder Howard W. Hunter seemed to understand the art of the shortened-on-the-spot talk when he gave an abbreviated version of his planned talk in the April 1972 General Conference, resulting in perhaps the shortest conference talk ever.
Here’s the text of the talk:
Observing the clock, I fold the notes that I have prepared and place them in my inside pocket. But let me take just a moment to mention a little incident that made an impression upon me when I was a boy. This came to my mind when it was mentioned that there are with us this afternoon a large group of dedicated people who teach our youth.
It was on a summer day early in the morning. I was standing near the window. The curtains obstructed me from two little creatures out on the lawn. One was a large bird and the other a little bird, obviously just out of the nest. I saw the larger bird hop out on the lawn, then thump his feet and cock his head. He drew a big fat worm out of the lawn and came hopping back. The little bird opened its bill wide, but the big bird swallowed the worm.
Then I saw the big bird fly up into a tree. He pecked at the bark for a little while and came back with a big bug in his mouth. The little bird opened his beak wide, but the big bird swallowed the bug. There was squawking in protest.
The big bird flew away, and I didn’t see it again, but I watched the little bird. After a while, the little bird hopped out on the lawn, thumped its feet, cocked its head, and pulled a big worm out of the lawn.
God bless the good people who teach our children and our youth, I humbly pray, in Jesus’ name. Amen. -Howard W. Hunter