As a professional speechwriter the boundary lines of good taste are pretty clear to me, but if you are writing a best man speech and are a little unsure about whether you have crossed those lines, let me make them crystal clear.
These are your no-go zones. Do any of these and your speech is destined to be a stinker.
In summary keep your content family friendly. Ask yourself this: what would grandma or the bride’s parents think if they heard your speech? If it leaves them feeling sorry for the bride because she appears to be marrying an absolute douche then you have your answer.
If all else fails, remember the golden rule: if in doubt, leave it out.
Last night I was invited to be a guest on 2UE's Talking Lifestyle program, chatting to Nick Bennett and Kayley Harris about how to write the perfect wedding speech.
You can listen to the podcast here.
I was asked to be a guest on 2GB 873 - Sydney Talk Radio's Weddings, Parties, Celebrations segment on Sunday night. You can listen to the podcast here. I start at about the 35 minute mark.
Traditionally it's always been one (or both) fathers, the groom, and finally the best man who give a speech at wedding, which stems from the days when women were generally seen and not heard at weddings.
But the winds of changes are blowing through weddings and more and more women are grabbing the microphone to say a few choice words, making a nice change form the all male line-up.
One of the great things about that is that without any traditional roots or official ‘duties’ to deliver, the format and approach for women is pretty flexible. Having said that, a blank canvas can sometimes be a little bit challenging, so if you're not sure where to start then read my advice on How To Give A Great Bride's (Or Bridesmaid's) Speech At A Wedding in the Huffington Post.
Very chuffed to see the great write up about my business in today's Sydney Morning Herald and The Age about unusual small businesses. You can outsource anything these days!
As a professional wedding speechwriter, I’m often asked for tips on delivering a great speech. There are so many great ones but here are my favourite six.
1. Practice but don’t memorise
Don’t feel you have to memorise your speech because you will only trip yourself up if you try. That’s not to say you shouldn’t practice. You should – a LOT. The trick is to know your speech well enough so that you only need to refer to your notes to jog your memory. The more you can look up and connect with the audience the better.
2. Turn nervousness into excitement
Remember it’s a privilege to get up and tell the people you care about how important they are to you so try to look forward to it. You’d be surprised at what a different this change in mindset can make. When you think about it, anxiety and excitement feel very similar — butterflies in your stomach, sweaty palms, increased heart rate. Don’t try to squash the feeling just try to refocus the nervous energy.
3. Resist the urge to start speaking right away
This one is a great tip from Simon Sinek, one of the TED’s most-watched talk presenters. He says, “A lot of people start talking right away out of nerves. Take a deep breath, find your place, wait a few seconds and begin. It may feel excruciatingly awkward but nobody notices this and it helps you gather your thoughts and shows the audience you’re totally confident and in charge of the situation.”
4. Slow it down...a lot
When you’re nervous there is a tendency to speak too fast. Your heart is usually racing and so your words follow suit. The problem with this is when you don’t leave any pauses in between your sentences you make it really hard for your audience to follow what you’re saying. Make a conscious effort to slow down and don't worry, you’re not speaking as slowly as you think you are.
5. Make eye contact with audience members one by one
Richard Branson once said that when you need to speak in front of a crowd, close your mind to the fact that you’re on a stage with hundreds of people watching you and instead imagine yourself in a situation where you’d be comfortable speaking to a group. He likes to imagine he’s in a dining room telling a story to friends over dinner. He works his way around the room making eye contact with each person so it feels more like an intimate conversation.
6. Remember that the audience likes you
Remember, at a wedding everyone in the audience is there in high spirits and full to brim with good will. They aren’t there to heckle you and they’re not expecting a perfectly polished performance. They want to hear from and want you to do well so try not to be too hard on yourself. Relax and enjoy the moment.
What about you? Can you share any great tips that have worked for you?
I can’t tell you the number of times I've inwardly groaned (and sometimes outwardly when I haven't been able to stop myself) when someone has told me they are going to wing their wedding speech. It's almost always a terrible idea.
I think most of us will agree that what usually follows the words: “I’m just going to ‘wing it’ and see what happens” is often disastrous and leads to embarrassment and regret – not just for the speaker.
Even if you are a master at public speaking on the fly and thrive under pressure, it's always a good idea to give a good amount of thought to your speech.
If you're still thinking about winging it then perhaps you'll reconsider after reading my guest blog on Polka Dot Bride.
Recently I was interviewed by the lovely people at the Brisbane Wedding Weekly. Here's a copy of the article they wrote.
The wedding speech. Three words that strike fear into the hearts of grown men (and women) everywhere.
True, there are some enjoy it and love the buzz that comes from being the centre of attention, but for a great many the thought of public speaking combined with the pressure to come up with a heartfelt and entertaining speech causes nausea, sleepness nights, panic attacks and extreme anxiety.
If this sounds like you, or someone you know, then a professional wedding speechwriter, like Anita Stevens, might be your saviour.
Anita, who helps people (mostly men) find the right words for the big day, says that people often assume everyone can write a great speech, but the reality is that not everyone can – for the same reason not everyone is a handy man or a good cook.
“Some people simply cannot turn what’s swirling in their head into something eloquent and meaningful on paper. Others simply don’t know what to say or can’t find the words to describe how they feel,” she says.
And that’s where Anita can help. Anita translates their thoughts, feelings and stories into a well-written speech they can deliver with confidence.
While most people agree her service is a great idea, Anita acknowledges that there are some who need a little extra convincing.
“I have had a small number of brides tell me they would be very upset if their groom hired a speechwriter and they consider it cheating - but they usually come around after I explain the collaborative nature of the process.
“Essentially, I combine my clients’ words and stories with my writing skills so it still comes from the heart and they still sound like them – only better.”
Anita says her process also has the added benefit of drawing out the words that many brides long to hear but may not have, had their groom been left to his own devices.
“What kind of speech would you prefer? One where he gets up says “Yeah she’s great”, offers a few lame jokes about his best man and then sits down, or one where he talks bout what he loves about you and why you’re The One? Working with a speechwriter can provide an opportunity for brides to hear something unexpected and really beautiful.”
Need some help?
If you, or someone you know, is struggling to find the right words for the big day, why not get in touch with Anita at Write It For Me on 0418 120 551.