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.

Structure
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.

 
Remembering it!

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
them.

- 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.

Inform Yourself
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.
 
 
I have noticed a peculiar phenomenon in a few of my clients and friends who have got engaged. I call this ‘donning the life-long goggles’. These life-long goggles (similar to the old-school rose-tinted glasses but a slight reversal) can cause significant problems if not recognised and removed.

What is the impact of the goggles?
The goggles will go on almost at the instant of the accepted proposal (sometimes even before)– often without either party noticing. Prior to donning the goggles, things are often going swimmingly (excuse the pun) – yes, there’s the odd niggle around the loo seat being left up and taking a long time to get ready, but nothing that could possibly be a deal-breaker.

HOWEVER, as soon as the goggles go on the happy couple’s filters change.  These niggles, when viewed through the life-long goggles can become deal-breakers. Suddenly, the loo seat being left up isn’t just the loo seat being left up, it’s the loo seat being left up every day for the rest of your life. And the slightly extended time it takes to leave the house is no longer just that, instead all of the minutes every day for the rest of your life are added to make years and suddenly it’s too much to bear!

This adjustment in the way we view things can lead to arguments which blow up over nothing and sometimes even a question mark being raised as to whether the whole thing was a good idea in the first place.

So what can I do about that then?
It’s quite simple really - recognise that you’re wearing them, and take them off. Realise that something that used not to bother you at all has been blown out of perspective by you and your goggles. A good way of getting things back into perspective if you’re having trouble is to think hard about four things that you love about that person. Really get a sense of those qualities and think of specific moments when they exhibited them. Then try and think about the niggle. It’ll probably be back in its box with the goggles. 


Where else do goggles affect things?
Pretty much everywhere – we all view the world through our own pair of goggles. You may find yourself putting on the ‘it’s going to be a bad day goggles’ the first time something goes awry in the morning. These will filter for everything else that goes wrong, and filter out the potentially good stuff along the way. These enable you to label a whole day as being bad, rather than a contained incident – hmm. I have noticed a fair few Facebook statuses recently stating ‘good riddance 2012 – what a bad year’ – really? A whole year? Every day? Or was that your goggles talking? 


Thought for the Day
Think about the goggles you’re wearing and what they’re doing for you. What are you filtering for?

Happy people tend to wear optimistic goggles – the ‘what’s going well goggles’, or perhaps even the ‘rose-tinted glasses’ of yore. 



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I was very pleased when I saw that it was #Groomsweek for ‘You and Your Wedding’ on Twitter. The concerns of the male members of the wedding party are often swept under the crystal sprinkled table, whilst more important decisions, such as what colour to have the chair sashes, are made.

As an NLP coach and actor, I regularly coach grooms, best men and fathers of brides to allay their fears and give their best on the big day.

Top concerns among grooms include saying their vows, making their speech and what the best man will say in his speech. 

Here are some top tips for grooms to get the best out of their day (it is their day too you know!):


 Vows
  • Remember why you’re there in the first place. It’s about you and your future wife – you may only say these vows once, so take your time and make sure she hears them.
  • Rehearse your vows out loud – don’t let the wedding be the first time you say them – even if you’re a big ‘lad’ you might be surprised by the emotion of the occasion!
Speeches
  • When writing your speech, focus on the message. This is your soap-box moment – all the people in the room will have been chosen to be there (even your obscure uncles and aunties) – what is important for your guests to know? Write bullet points of the key things you want to say. If you think it’s important to cover these points, then the guests will too. Ask the family of the bride if there is anyone you should mention who isn’t at the reception.
  •  Rehearse your speech out loud. The more you rehearse, it will become ingrained in your muscle memory and it will be like second nature when you’re at the wedding. Mark on it where you want to take breaths – you’ll be surprised how useful this is.

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  • Take a few minutes each day to visualise yourself (on a TV screen) delivering the speech excellently. This will help programme you to expect success rather than failure. 
  • On the day, make yourself responsible for putting the audience at ease – if you’re thinking about how they feel, you’re less likely to be focussing on yourself. 
  • Take a deep sigh-breath before you start and take the audience in. This will calm you down.
  • If you are saying something light hearted, smile - that way the audience will too!
  • It sounds obvious, but read the bullet point first, then look up, take in the whole room and speak. Allow eye contact – it creates connection with the audience and you’ll feel supported by them.

Best Man Speech
  • If he’s your best-man, he’s most likely your best-mate. Communicate to him in advance what the tone of the reception is going to be, what the bride’s family are like, what you expect from him and how far he can take it. A bit of advance notice as to prudish parents is well worth it in the long run!

If you’re getting married soon, congratulations! Feel free to get in touch for some coaching sessions to help prepare you for your big day.



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Weddings are meant to be joyous occasions, however they rank as the 7th most stressful life events (below deaths, divorce and jail terms), and pretty much the only one in the top ten that we actually choose to go through.  For the bride and groom, this can be expected – it was their decision to have a wedding in the first place! However a number of members of the wedding party have the wedding thrust upon them along with the various responsibilities that come with it, and don’t necessarily have the requisite skills for the tasks that fall within their newly acquired remit.

The father of the bride is chief of those. Not only is he (in traditional circles) expected to pay for the whole thing, he has the responsibility of ‘giving away’ his daughter. And, having made it that far he is required to make the much anticipated ‘father of the bride’ speech. 

An aggravating factor is that the day is ‘not about them’, so fathers often swallow all of their concerns and nerves, further increasing stress levels and anxiety. 

Having coached fathers of brides before, we have found that anxiety about the speech is two-fold. Firstly writing it, or rather, the stress of putting off writing it. Secondly, delivering it. Some fathers have never had the experience of writing and/or delivering a speech, so it is unknown territory, which often spells fear. 

NLP coaching uses some great tools for procrastination, confidence and presenting, leaving often the most fearful public speaker cool, calm and collected. If you don’t have time for a session or two before the wedding, here are some top tips for handling your responsibilities. 



Top Tips:
-    If you are putting off writing your speech, ask yourself the following questions: 
What effect is not writing the speech having on me (stress, anxiety etc.)?
How will I feel if I continue to not write the speech?
What are the likely outcomes of me leaving this to the last minute?
What effect will leaving it to the last minute have on the wedding – my daughter’s big day?
On the other hand, how will I feel once I’ve written the speech?
Realistically, how much time will it take to do once I’ve sat down?
What’s the worst that could happen if I sit down to write it now?

How will I feel as the weeks go by knowing I’ve written the speech?
What
will other people think if I deliver a well planned, well rehearsed
speech?
Finally, remind yourself what feelings you’re avoiding by sitting
down and writing it now.
   

-      It sounds
simple, but when writing your speech, focus on the message. What is it that you
actually want to say to the guests? What is important for them and the happy
couple to know? Write bullet points of the key things you want to say, and build
out from there. If you think it’s important to cover these points, then the
guests will too. 


-     Rehearse
out loud. You’ll get muscle-memory that way and your body and mind will be used
to delivering the speech and it will be more like second nature when you’re at
the wedding.

-     Put yourself in the audience’s shoes – what
do they want to see, hear and feel when you’re doing your speech. Make yourself
responsible for putting them at ease – if you’re thinking about how they feel,
you’re less likely to be focussing inwards. 

-     Take a
few minutes each day to visualise yourself (on a tv screen) delivering the
speech excellently. This will help programme yourself to expect success rather
than failure.

If you can fit it in, two or three coaching
sessions before the big day will make a huge difference to how you perform and
how you feel about performing – get in touch if you’d like to give it a
go!
 


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