General Conference is an event most members have long-lasting traditions or preparations they either do before or during the sessions.
Anne Workman, an assistant professor of religious education, said the preparation advice she would give is to buy party food. “If you’re going to sit and watch a movie, it’s better with popcorn and Skittles or licorice or whatever. The kids are always excited. We look forward to it because it’s a holiday.”
Workman said she always takes notes and jots down special marks—or big arrows—as her “to-do list” from conference.
Matthew Bowen, also an assistant professor of religious education, suggested the best way to get oneself into the correct frame of mind is by going to the temple and seeking to have a good experience.
A common theme among those who were interviewed was to go to conference with a question or series of questions. “That act of just coming up with a question you’d like to have answered is mentally opening your mind and opening your heart to receive,” said Workman. “It also keeps you watching. It keeps you focused.”
Bowen explained, “The Holy Ghost can teach us in ways that address the question or thought we want more light, knowledge, or understanding on.”
Workman advised others to pay attention to those things that may make one feel uncomfortable or irritated. “That feeling or the wanting to tune out is an invitation to work on [something]. Conference is supposed to help you improve, so pay attention to those places where someone makes you grumpy. That is your spirit’s notification to you that that is something to work on.”
Go to bed early to get some sleep, said Tj Teikanea, an undeclared freshman from Tuvalu. “When I get to sleep early and wake up early, then I don’t fall asleep during general conference.” Bowen challenges “everybody, if they can, to get up at least 10 minutes before so they’re in a semi-woken up state.”
“Be there for those opening moments of General Conference on Saturday and Sunday, because [when] we get in those sessions some of the most important things that happen.” He gave the example of how most students and members of the church remember where they were when President Thomas S. Monson announced the new missionary age.
Tevita To’ia, a sophomore majoring in biomedicine from Tonga, advised, “Pray about it, and fast about it before you go. Think about your question, because sometimes when you listen to the same talk, people learn different things.”
To’ia truly started to love conference around the time President Gordon B. Hinckley died because he said he realized he missed Hinckley’s voice and presence. His advice was to “make use of the time that you have with the prophets and apostles because one day they’re going to pass away. You will wish you could hear them again.”
When Lauren Wall, a freshman studying psychology from Idaho was young, started to watch conference, it was because something was missing, she said. Her family used to have huge gatherings when they were all closer to her in Idaho. “When everyone moved away, we wouldn’t really watch Saturday’s conference. And I feel like when I got older, I knew I missed watching all of it. It became more of a priority for me because I realized I was missing out.”
Teikanea said, “It has to do with realizing the purpose of the thing you’re doing. That purpose for me is specific guidance for your own personal life.”
Aurora Augulis, a freshman from Illinois studying psychology, said the reason she began to love conference was the snack bags she received in Primary. However, she started to appreciate conference when she was part of an organized Young Women’s project, which required her to take notes during all sessions. “I liked watching it after that.”
Bowen concluded, “I hope we appreciate what an opportunity it is to drink deeply of the waters of eternal life and to feast on the word of Christ that come to us from the words of living prophets.”