By Kinohi Manning
Squirming children, sleep ridden eyes and wandering thoughts often plague those watching general conference.
From Primary conference-bingo to post-conference Ensign reading, people approach conference differently.
“It”s a personal thing,” said Cynthia Doxey, assistant professor of church history and doctrine. “For me I like to sit down with a notebook and write down my thoughts, feelings and important statements that they have said.”
Note taking is a part of many people”s approach to conference.
“My mother would take notes during conference, then write up a list of all the things she learned to do and a list of things she was told not to do during conference,” Doxey said. “Then she”d have it up on the bulletin board in our home.”
Preparation for conference is also something to consider.
Reading previous conference reports, fasting, prayer and knowing something about the brethren all help in understanding the current speakers better said David Boone, assistant professor of church history and doctrine.
Also important in preparation however, is a good night”s sleep he said – a common plague of conference watchers.
In effort to stay awake when he was younger, Matthew Richardson, assistant professor of church history and doctrine began taking notes hoping to focus his thinking on conference.
“I don”t just write down what they say,” Richardson said. “I write down thoughts, questions and things that I feel. I”ll take notes of the experience I”m having personally.”
Note taking for Richardson has taken on a personal tone and is no longer simply a method to stay awake.
“Personally, I try to prepare before conference starts,” said Richardson. “I will think of questions that I have and personal answers that I”m seeking for, then I try to prayerfully consider them before it begins.”
Making conference more personal is a common tactic for many in note taking.
“I just take notes on what I think, not what they think, because I get the Ensign anyway,” said Melissa Eaton, 20, a sophomore from Cedar Rapids, Iowa, majoring in English.
Some even apply the talks to university studies.
“I like to think about the syntax and word choice of the speakers,” said Mike Pope, 20, a sophomore from Newark Del., majoring in Classical Civilizations.
Notes however, are not an option for children still learning to write, leaving desperate parents entertaining thoughts of duct tape and rope.
Even with its difficulties, educating young children on the importance of listening to conference is important Doxey said.
“When I was growing up it was always part of our family activity,” she said. “We didn”t always enjoy it. Sometimes we”d have our dolls there, but we knew that is was very important to watch and to listen.”
Though unable to write, young children can still draw pictures of speakers or talk topics.
Parents should also bring conference topics up in conversation and family home evening several assistant church history and doctrine professors recommended.
Professors also agreed that whether simply listening to conference, reading the Ensign later or taking notes, everyone participates in a different way.
“Because we believe that we have continuing prophecy coming form the prophets and if we sustain President Hinckley, his counselors and apostles, as prophets seers and revelators, we should watch conference,” Doxey said.