To Use Notes or Not to Use Notes…

We all envy the speaker who can stand up and deliver a speech ‘off the cuff’! How do they / can they do it? I wish I could do that! Yes, we all do, but chances are that they have been preparing the speech for some time beforehand and know what they wanted to say, how to say it and then deliver it. Behind closed doors they were probably practicing focusing on pulling off a great performance without notes leading up to the speech delivery.

Speakers who have no notes are rare enough though. If no notes can be seen or speaking props visible, then they know there subject really well, have delivered it before and / or they are very familiar to the audience. These are exceptional people and speakers and have to be admired.

But for us people who have to speak in public very occasionally, we need to have notes or some way of remembering what we want to say and when to say it. Our audience, especially at a social occasion like a wedding, expect to see and feel more comfortable when the speaker(s) have notes in front of them. They know that they have prepared beforehand, have a script to work from and that they won’t ramble or deviate from the speech.

If you are someone who has to speak in front of family, relations and / or friends, put everything you want to say on paper, give it structure and put onto a Word Document. Decide whether you want to have everything you want to say on paper or to put your speech onto pointer notes / cards. Practice and rehearse it numerous times. Bring it with you, let the audience see it and then use it as your speaking medium to help you deliver a great speech

A long speech or a short speech…?

You have many times, some times or will some time soon hear a wedding speech from a Bestman, Father of the Bride / Groom, Bride and / or Groom. It will be either a long speech or short speech. There is never a medium length speech and you will never hear anyone say that the speech was the perfect length. It will either be too long or too short! Most of us would error on the short, don't you agree, while some will write a speech that they think is short, but to the audience / listeners it is / was too long.

So, should you write a long speech or a short speech? Well, it depends on who and what you are writing about, though for the aforementioned speakers this does not really matter. Write down everything you want to mention and speak about as headings or sections in your speech draft. Then write about them in a way that explains how you feel about them and in a way that your audience can appreciate, relate to and enjoy the way you are explaining and feeling about them.

Write to the point and don’t overdo the detail. Don't dwell too much on one person and one thing. Have variety in the speech making it interesting. Think of the five 'W's and one 'H' i.e. Who, What, Where, When, Why and How to develop good narrative. Add body to each part of your speech and review it on paper (easier to proof read), continuing to do this until you are satisfied.

You will then question yourself, is the speech too long? You are unlikely to think the speech is too short. If you feel the speech is too long, then you have wrote too much about that particular person or that particular thing!

Rule of thumb is that your speech should be between 9-11 minutes without interruption.

Say what you want to say, it’s a once off, all of these people will never be together like this again to hear you speak about the people that are important to you in your life...

The Three Things That People Will Remember About Your Wedding…

Your wedding is over. The planning, the expense and attention to detail have hopefully paid off and your guests have had a memorable and unforgettable experience all for the right reasons. If you were to do an evaluation analysis on your wedding, like they do after a training course, what would be the responses? (There’s actually a Blog in that alone!).

Let’s make it easier; what would be the top three things that your guests would remember after one day, one week, one month, indeed one year after your wedding? They say they would remember the following:

  • How well the Bride looked?
  • The wedding venue
  • The speeches

How well the Bride looked?

The Bride is hands down, the centre of attention. All eyes are on them from once they step out into the public eye in their wedding dress. The Groom is also noticed, observed and complimented on, but not as much as the Bride whom will be told at least a thousand times how beautiful they look.

The wedding venue

Where the couple get married and where they celebrate their wedding with their guests is also an important memory for people. The grace and reverence of the wedding ceremony; the ambience, hospitality and surroundings of the wedding venue will stick long in the minds of the guests especially the quality and goodness of the meal, the availability of all types of drinks and beverages and the quality and suitability of the music.

The speeches

Your guests will remember the speeches; who spoke, what they said and how they said it. If the speeches are appropriate, humorous (not always necessary) and heart touching, guests will talk about them for days after and remember them for months after. If anything inappropriate is said that may embarrass the Bride, Groom or their families, guests will talk about it for months after and remember them for years after.

Make your wedding memorable for all the right reasons...

Preparation is key…

For anything we do in life, preparation is key. When we sit down to carry out a task, we give ourselves enough time to plan it, do it and then review it to make sure it is done as well as it possibly can be. Right?

Well, in the ideal world with time on our hands this is what should happen, but this isn’t always the case, especially for tasks that we may not be looking forward to or enjoying doing. This goes especially for tasks that we have to do where we are in the public eye, where people can make an opinion of us by what we do or indeed say.

When it comes to writing and delivering a wedding speech, we tend to put it off to the very last minute, though it is constantly in the back of our minds when we realize that a son, daughter or indeed ‘you’ are about to get married. Is this because we hope it might not happen, or that the passing of time will eventually make us to do it or that it may not happen at all? Possibly one or all three, but nine times out of ten, it will happen and the best approach is to prepare.

When the wedding is about one month away, set a time to start writing your speech and plan to finish it one week before the wedding. Treat it like a project as you would at work or at home. List down the people, things you want to mention, put them in order of priority and then add content and narrative around them (enough to give them and it just recognition). How you deliver your speech is just as important as what you are saying, so practice it as much as you can. And if you can, do a pre-run in the actual wedding venue.

With this preparation, you will deliver a great speech…

Make your Speech Great with Stories…

Whether you are a Father of the Bride, Father of the Groom and / or Bestman making that all important speech in front of family, relations and friends is a once-off occasion and daunting for a lot of people. Your audience more than likely know you pretty well, and want to hear you deliver a good speech, maybe even a great speech. Whether you deliver it before or after the meal is irrelevant (though the latter would be more preferable and indeed recommended as your audience have had their meal and are more ready to enjoy and more importantly appreciate your few words).

For the audience to enjoy and appreciate your speech, it is always a good idea to share stories about the Bride and Groom, without embarrassing them too much of course.

These stories are best researched, developed and structured days, even weeks before delivering your speech and are always better to be true stories or at least based on a true story. When they are true, they are easier remembered, easier told and the audience enjoy them more. The audience will know whether they are true or not by the way you tell them. You’re taking them on a journey, they are there and part of it with all the detail included.

It is better to tell it your way, not to copy or mimic other great story tellers that you know or would love to emulate. The audience wants to hear the real you stand up and speak to them in a polished, professional way, yet your own way. Finally, it is good too to finish the story with some form of punchline or one liner that reveals the moral of the story and advice for the Bride and / or Groom as they start their married life together.

Start thinking about good, appropriate, true stories that you mix in with your speech (two to three will suffice divided evenly between the Bride & Groom if possible). You’ll look forward to and enjoy your speech more and so too will your audience…