Once upon at a time when I attended Especially for Youth – a week long summer camp of sorts for LDS teens – I attended a class in which the instructor told us not to try to write down everything he said, but rather “When the Spirit moves you, write down what you are going to do!” I have tried to take this counsel to heart, and now when I listen to a speaker I try not to get caught up in writing down all the principles they talk about, or the words they say (unless it’s not General Conference and they say something in a way that I want to remember – you know, like a catchy phrase or a particularly clear explanation of something). The thing is – most principles that are spoken of in talks can be found in the scriptures, or in General Conference talks. So I try to concentrate on what the spirit is teaching me rather than what the person is teaching me.
During conference, rather than try to write down what the speaker is saying I try to focus on what the Spirit is teaching me by what they are saying. I usually draw a little arrow before a note if it is something that I feel the Spirit instructing me to do. For example, in my notes from October General Conference, I wrote this:
Sunday AM Session
President Henry B. Eyring
->study the covenants I have made (baptism, sacrament, temple) Write them down
* we promised to be charitable
* we promised to be a witness of God everywhere
* bear each other’s burdens
->BE FULLY CONVERTED
endure faithfully (SERVE faithfully) to the end. Press on and live the gospel to the end.
Steps to FULL CONVERSION – faith, read the Book of Mormon, take Moroni’s promise.
->READ the Book of Mormon and take Moroni’s promise. Read the Book of Mormon every year
That is directly from my notes. Your notes are probably different. I tried to write what I felt impressed to write down by the Spirit. I went back and read this talk and looked for some of those things. What I wrote wasn’t exactly what President Eyring said, although he did talk about covenants (and the list is word-for-word what he said) and he did talk about full conversion. There have been times where I have found something in my notes from General Conference that is so beautiful to me, and I want to share it with someone, but because I am a stickler for sources I will go back and look for that quote in the conference talk and I can’t find it! That’s when I realize that what I “heard” wasn’t what was said, but rather what the Spirit inspired me to write down.
Don’t worry about getting everything down word for word – these days, the videos are available practically the same day with transcripts available within the week. If you hear a phrase that really struck you, write that down and it will help you search that talk later (the “find” function on your browser can be an invaluable tool when searching Conference talks online). Or if there was a talk that you felt particularly inspired about, make a note so you can go back and listen to it or read it after conference.
I really like the counsel given in the General Conference Notebook that is published by the Friend. In the “After Conference” section it says “Write down… what [you are] going to do because of what you learned.” This, I think, is the more important thing to get out of General Conference – what we are going to do because of what we heard.
“If you decide to take notes, keep them short and simple so you can pay close attention to the speaker and to the Spirit. Consider writing down what the Spirit teaches you or some specific things we are counseled to do, not just the exact words of the conference speakers.”
For those of you participating in #TwitterStake (Mormons on Twitter during General Conference – tweeting conference notes with the hashtag #LDSConf) this is good advice – and probably more easily followed on Twitter (where your notes are limited to 140 characters) than on paper – but it is probably easy to get distracted from the speaker and the spirit if you aren’t careful.
I will be participating in #TwitterStake this year, and I’m pretty excited. I’m not sure how I will like it, but I think it will be a great opportunity.
How do you take notes at General Conference? Do you keep your notes simple? Do you take notes at all? Do you participate in the “tweeting” of General Conference?