Those with authority laid on hands and the real effect was that they immediately received, and others could tell by the gifts received that the recipients had the Holy Ghost.
"...[the three Nephites] did go forth upon the face of the land, and did minister unto all the people, uniting as many to the church as would believe in their preaching; baptizing them, and as many as were baptized did receive the Holy Ghost." (3 Nephi 28:18)
"Then [Peter and John] laid they their hands on them, and they received the Holy Ghost. And when Simon saw that through laying on of the apostles’ hands the Holy Ghost was given, he offered them money..." (Acts 8:17-18)