What Should We Look For in General Conference?

This evening is the annual Young Women’s meeting (which I always associate with General Conference), and General Conference itself begins next week. Over the past few years I’ve come up with a few things that I focus on as I listen to each Conference, in addition to the messages, and I’m now wondering:

What do you listen for when you listen to Conference?

A couple of years ago I started looking for book references and quotations in Conference talks, and I’ve compiled lists after each General Conference. I also started looking for new terms used, trying to catch the next Standing for Something or Lengthen Your Stride. I try to incorporate the terms I find in the Mormon Terms project.

Of course, there is also a lot to look at in the content of Conference addresses. I know that they are indexed and organized by subject, and General Authorities each have their own styles, but I’d be interested to know if the addresses could also be categorized by some kind of sub-genres. I may try to look for that this time.

So, What things do you listen for when you listen to Conference?

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10 thoughts on “What Should We Look For in General Conference?”

  1. I listen for guidance from the Lord regarding his whole Church. It is nice to hear the prophet give us major revelations from time to time, although we do not always need it.

  2. Sean, that’s already understood.

    Are you telling me that you, as a person, don’t notice a well-turned phrase or an unusual term when you listen to a discourse?

    I assume that most reading this blog have an interest literature, and therefore listen beyond just the straight content you describe.

    Are you saying that you don’t do that? Or that you turn it off somehow for Conference?

  3. Th, do you go to the chapel for the sessions of General Conference, or o you watch/listen at home?

    We usually are at home, listening over the Internet. I find that there I have less problems with the kids when we are at home. [However, I’m sure my children are older — one just came home from his mission, the other two are almost 16 and just turned 7.]

  4. I guess I must process things a bit differently than you do, Kent.

    In fact, since — sadly — I prefer off-the-cuff speakers of old like LeGrand Richards or Jacob de Jaeger, in this staid age of ridgidly-pre-screened correlation I have to purposely disconnect my inner editor, otherwise I chase away the Spirit with my grumblings and murmurings.

    If I started _actively_ looking for clever turns of phrase, Katie bar the door! I’ll start feeling like I’ve just been trapped three hours in an elevator with a Living Scriptures salesman!

  5. .

    My oldest is six. We do listen at home, but basically what that means is that it is easy for one adult to listen.

  6. Lee said “I guess I must process things a bit differently than you do, Kent.”

    Probably, I’ve been accused before of being weir…, uh, of thinking differently.

    “I have to purposely disconnect my inner editor,…”

    Hmmm, I’ve never really been successful at doing that.

    I do understand where you are coming from. There is plenty of what is said that I would like to reword.

    Perhaps your potential feeling that you are trapped simply means that you are a better editor than I!!

  7. After President Hinckley died, I went back and reread all of his conference talks from the past 20 years. His style was so distinctive that I could actually hear his voice in my head as I reread the old talks.

    I don’t know the rhetorical styles of our current apostles and presidency as well (with the possible exception of President Monson’s love of the passive voice), so maybe that’s something I’ll listen for.

  8. I listen at home too. Lately, it’s been over the internet instead of TV (we’re lucky enough to have several options, what with KSL and all). Although this time we might try the new digital HD signal from KSL. The old one (from the antenna) was just too noisy to be worth it.

    I’ve taken a great interest in the increasing number of video vignettes that have been prepared to accompany the talks. It used to just be the text of quotes, but lately we’ve seen a lot more photographs, other graphics, clips from Church films, or even specially prepared reenactments of some of the stories.

    Apparently the Brethren have decided to add the visual arts to the many languages the messages are presented in, so I look for ways in which the in-talk videos or the general coverage complement the material given from the pulpit.

    For example, I’ve noticed wider shots of the speaker (those that include others on the stand) more frequently, and also more ornate and better lit floral displays right behind the pulpit. The dark, almost colorless backgrounds used before are going away. Both of these things might be functions of logistical considerations of the new facility (although it hardly seems appropriate to call the Conference Center “new” any more), but I find them interesting nonetheless.

  9. I’ve never really linked it to an interest in literature before, but I do tend to look out for short phrases which either sum up what the speaker is talking about really well, or are what I would call ‘quotable’.

    What really makes me sit up is when a speaker takes a subject that we talk about often, and presents it in a unique way, such as the Parable of the Pickle.

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