By the LifetimesMAG Scribbler...
"And now I would like to introduce the best man."
Those are 10 words from the toastmaster that will increase the heartbeat of even the most confident of individuals. Lots of us have been there - The Scribbler included.
And don’t forget about the father of the bride, the maid of honour or indeed the bride or groom – all of whom are often called upon to offer a few words to a captive audience on the big day.
The Scribbler fondly remembers being told as a child, waiting to take to the school stage and squeak out a single sentence as part of the Christmas play, that if nerves took hold, simply imagine that everyone in the audience is naked. Talk about stage fright...
However, having taken to the floor to regale anecdotes at several weddings over the years, The Scribbler always swears by the following two basic rules:
i) As long as you aren’t too nervous, nerves are actually GOOD. They keep you sharp, and the sharper you are, the less sloppy you’ll be when you are speaking – and the better the speech.
ii) DON’T GET TOO DRUNK. A glass or two is fine; but take it easy with the ‘Dutch courage’. If you’re sloshed, things can go south very quickly. The Scribbler has seen it happen with others. It isn’t pretty.
But that’s enough of The Scribbler’s petty ramblings. What about some proper advice from an expert?
The Scribbler asked renowned speech writer Carole Spiers of www.theweddingspeechexpert.co.uk to offer her thoughts. Here are Carole’s top tips:
1. Prepare! Prepare! Prepare!
“There are no short cuts to this one and if you think a best man speech or a groom speech is going to take you a half a day to prepare, the chances are that you may need to double this! Your wedding speech needs to have a beginning [opener], a middle and an end [close].”
2. Smile and engage
“As you stand up in front of the microphone, everyone will be looking at you, so smile and look around the whole room. Where you will be standing is your stage and you need to take ownership of it – much as an actor looks stage-left, centre-stage and stage-right, so must you when you engage with your audience.”
3. Use a well-rehearsed ‘opener’
“Practice makes perfect. If you know exactly what you are going to say as soon as you open your mouth, it will give you an inner confidence. Then, by the time it is appropriate to move onto the middle section of your speech, your adrenaline will probably have taken over and you will feel back in control. Your ‘opener’ can comprise a question, a story or a quotation. Remember you want to grab your audience’s attention so think about this one very carefully.”
4. Repeat your words for emphasis
“This is ‘really, really’ important and will reinforce your words in the mind of your audience.”
5. Voice tonality
“Your voice needs to go up and down so that you bring expression to what it is that you are saying. Never speak in a monotone unless you want your audience to fall asleep! Use your voice to attract your audience so that they actually listen to what you are saying.”
“This technique is one that takes practice but is one that makes all the difference. When you read a book, it has commas, full stops, and paragraph breaks. It should be the same with your speech. Pauses, used correctly, will give you and your audience time to reflect on and absorb what has been said.”
Many thanks to Carole Spiers.
Carole is a popular speech writer and author of three best-selling books. As a writer, she understands that writing a wedding speech is surely one of the most difficult challenges anyone can face – especially before a wedding when there are so many other things to be attended to.
Realising that writing for such an important occasion is tough for many people, Carole set up the Wedding Speech Expert five years ago now. Since then, she has provided hundreds of wedding celebrants with great speeches. Visit www.theweddingspeechexpert.co.uk for more information.