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.