Well...wedding season is coming up again and consequently I'm coaching a couple of lovely best men. They have both come to me with similar concerns, particularly with regard to the delivery of the speech so I thought it might be useful to have a blog post with some key points.
When writing your speech, having a good structure is key. This will help you remember it, and also help to make the audience feel save in our hands.
I would recommend having an intro covering the key things - how beautiful the bride is looking, thank yous to the family etc. Following that have three short stories with a beginning sentence, a description in the middle, and a summary or link to the next passage at the end. Finally the summing up and the toast.
The good thing is, no one will expect you to remember the whole thing. Most speech-makers at weddings either have the whole thing typed out, or prompt cards.
I would recommend having prompt cards - just the key points you need to hit on a card, so that if you lose your way, it's easy to get back on track. If you follow the structure suggested above, you'd have the top line summary of the intro, three key stories, and the summary written on the card.
How to Practice
Preparation is key, however going over the speech in the same way, over and over again, is likely to make it boring to you, as well as the audience.
Here's some top tips for practicing:
- First, mark in your breaths. Put
little ticks on the copy all the way through, when you're going to breathe -
then have a read and see if that works for you. If you need more, then add
- Second, practice it like a primary school teacher! One of the most common problems with first time public speakers, is that their voices can get stuck in a 'pattern' - this can, on occasion, be hypnotic and send the audience into a trance! To avoid this, practice the speech as if you were a primary school teacher or CBBC presenter - this will make you vary your vocal tone in a new way. You don't have to stick with this, but it will help you engage your vocal range.
| |- Third, play with pace. As well as a 'tonal rut', new public speakers can also get stuck in a 'pace rut'. Decide which exciting parts of your speech could do with building in pace, and which parts are serious and require....more....weight.
- Fourth, play with character. If each of your paragraphs were a character, who would they be? The wise old owl giving sage advice to the groom, the cocky successful best mate, or the bookish led-astray friend of the trouble-seeking groom? Each section can be different and thinking about this will add an element of fun and keep the audience engaged.
- Practice. Once you've thought about all of these things, it's time to practice. Do one paragraph per day and once you've been through them, practice one link between paragraphs per day. You'll soon have it licked!
- Record it. It's always a good idea to record yourself doing your speech - this will tell you whether you're rushing, skipping over words, or whether the pace needs changing a bit.
If you can visit the venue or look at it online, do. That way you'll be able to visualise yourself delivering your speech in the space, as well as know roughly where the bride and groom, and anyone else you might refer to, will be sitting.
It's not about you!
This is actually quite a nice way to think about it. Take responsibility for communicating your message to the audience and giving them a nice time. People want to be there and to hear what you've got to say, so just go for it!
Sometimes a coaching session or two can really help you to nail your speech and feel confident on the day. If you'd like to book in, just click here and contact us.
Lobsters can be found everywhere; in relationships, jobs and homes. What’s good about them is if you gradually increase the pressure on their situation, they tend not to notice. Like a lobster.
In order to cook a lobster you don’t put a live lobster in a boiling pot. They’re not stupid, they’ve got reflexes and would jump out. What you do is you put them in a pot of cold water and gradually turn up the heat until they’re cooked. This way, they don’t really notice. However if they’d known about the end situation at the beginning, they wouldn’t have got into the pan.
How do I know if I’m a lobster?
There’s a simple question to test whether or not you’re exhibiting lobster-like qualities:
‘If I had known it would be like this when I got into it, would I have done it in the first place?’
For example – if you’d known that your whole team at work would be gradually made redundant and their work given to you, would you have taken the job?
If you’d known that on the flip side of a passionate man you’re dating was an increasingly bad temper, would you have gone out with him at all?
What’s wrong with being a lobster?
Lobsters are often ‘putting up with’ a situation that they’re not at all happy about (being cooked). If they had been dumped in that situation their reflexes would have told them to get out, but having had the heat turned
up gradually, they’re numb to it.
| |Is it fair?
If you have identified yourself as a lobster, you might want to ask yourself whether it’s fair. Given you’d have jumped straight out of that situation had you known in advance, is it fair to expect yourself to endure it now?
Look after yourself
Once you’ve recognised that you’re now in a pot of boiling hot water that you definitely wouldn’t have got into in the first place if you’d known, it’s important to get out. It may be as simple as recognising the situation as unacceptable and walking away, or you may like to have some coaching/support to put together an action plan. Either way, it’s time to get out of the pan.
It’s strange how, as we get older, many of us develop irrational fears of one sort or another. Fear of heights (technically called acrophobia) is, apparently, the commonest and Dr Wild, a clinical psychologist from Oxford University was quoted in this week’s
Stylist as saying, “The majority of people have a fear or heights. The older we get the more ingrained it becomes”. But it doesn’t have to!
Having had no fear as a child, as I went through my 20s and 30s I developed an increasing terror of heights. However, I hated the fact that it limited me and the family and would force myself to climb buildings, towers, walk along cliffs etc. It was often my children who had to use all their innate psychological skills to get me down from exciting expeditions to the Whispering Gallery in St Paul’s or the Cologne Cathedral spire – going up tended to be more or less OK but coming down was definitely not as my legs turned to jelly and panic set in! It came to a head in China on my own when I struggled to get down from the Great Wall, which is extremely steep in places, and stepping out from the lift on the Oriental Pearl Tower in Shanghai – onto a glass floor 350 metres up! That, I decided, was my last venture up anything higher than a step ladder!
Challenge by Choice
However, a few weeks later I was on my first NLP course in the New Forest – part of which is an afternoon on a high ropes course. “Challenge by choice” was the phrase our instructor used, and we were, of course safely
roped up with a colleague on the ground managing a belay rope. Supported by other
delegates, and my newfound NLP state
management skills, that first day I climbed a tree and walked across a log suspended between two trees – a long way off the ground!
On my second course I did that again, plus several other more challenging tests culminating in climbing up a tall pole onto a very small platform with another person and jumping together onto a trapeze somewhat out of reach... from which the only way down was to let go and let the belay rope bring you down! It wasn’t easy, but the elation at having conquered my fear was intense, and never left me. I’m well aware that I need to keep challenging myself or the old fear can re-establish itself, so wherever I go I’m always the first to go up the tallest building, up the steepest mountain road etc – can’t wait for The Shard to open!
NLP coaching can assist with all sorts of irrational fears in very few sessions, by helping you manage your mental state, or in some cases by carrying out a fast phobia cure.