How to tell a story…

Table of contents

    When it comes to preparing and writing a speech, many of us do not know where to start, where to finish, how to say things, indeed how not to say things. This is especially true when we are talking about someone who we have to speak about, someone who is the center of attention, such as the Bride and / or Groom at a wedding. For the people who have to speak about them (usually their Mum or Dad and the Bestman); this is a once in a lifetime opportunity to stand up and tell them how great, wonderful and special they are in the company of old friends…but how do you share this effectively and professionally? With a story! Yes, we talk about their personality, their achievements and what makes them unique, but many people forget to tell a story about them or if they do tell a story, it is not told in a way that the audience can understand or they don’t get it. The best stories are the simplest and we all know that an audience loves a story. It makes a speech more authentic, relevant and personable. It really can take your speech and speech delivery to a new level. When thinking about a story to develop about a Bride or Groom, it must have a true foundation i.e. this actually happened. You obviously will have been a key witness of / at the event, as telling a story secondhand most times is not as effective and will not always be told as well. You need to decide is it appropriate; will anybody be upset, embarrassed, cringe as you tell it? Some weddings have been remembered for the wrong reasons by someone’s speech content. For a lot of the bridal party, especially the Mum’s of the Bride and Groom and the Bride, this can be big worry for them, ‘What are they going to say’? So, back to the story; think about the times you spent with this person, good times, on holiday, socializing, growing up years and choose 3-5 events that you could develop stories about. As you develop and write the story, write it in the second person i.e. he did this, she did that; not you did this, you did that. As you write it, it is perfectly fine to exaggerate it a little, add things to it that may not have actually happened for effect and humour, but do not stray too much from the truth. Key to a good story is the ending i.e. developing a punch-line that is humorous, witty and appropriate. What is the message here, what is the learning? This can be the most challenging part of the speech. Put the whole story on paper and rehearse and practice it so that you will leave nothing out, because stories are never read out, they are told without notes! It is important that you as the speaker sharing the story stay calm and serious, though a smile or smirk can be effective. Pause for effect, with deflection and emphasis on key words. As people laugh with you, do not speak over them. Look now and again at the person you are speaking about, but do not over do it. And finally get really in to it as if it is happening again; bring the audience on the journey again with you. Regarding duration of a story, 3-5 minutes is good. It is great to share 1-2 stories about both the Bride and Groom if you have them and remember don’t cross the line.  

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