Today we’re joined by Wedding Celebrant and Speech Coach Janie Lazar! Janie is a pro when it comes to nailing your wedding speech, providing professional speech coaching on a one to one basis. She also runs group coaching where anyone from the Best Man or Groom to the Father of the Bride can learn how to craft their speech and how to deliver it on the day. Today she’s sharing some great tips to help you get started. Over to Janie…
Fast forward. It’s your wedding day. You stand up. Look out across the room, your heart begins to race. Your mouth goes dry. Your mind goes blank. There’s nothing more terrifying than standing up in front of a room of people you know, all waiting for you to start. Will it be short, long, entertaining? Will the words make sense? Will they tumble out as you want them to? Will they be what you and your partner want to hear? Speech making on such an important occasion can be stressful, daunting and yes, exhilarating too – it just takes a little work!
Weddings are days full of emotion. Filled with moments that will touch everyone you’ve invited. Somehow when the speeches begin, time really does stop as our hearts open wide to share thoughts and feelings all too often rarely voiced. People care and want only the best, only joy, love and laughter for the couple whose day is being celebrated; they may not remember everything that is said but will always remember how they felt as heartfelt words wrapped themselves around friends and family.
Speeches can be emotional rollercoasters. They have the power to play with us, offering simultaneous moments of joy and sadness, especially for a parent who now fully realises from this day on, their son or daughter’s own journey of a lifetime has really begun. So how to create that Wedding Speech Magic? How do you go from ‘Page to Stage’?
It’s easy to say speak from the heart – but that is the starting point and here are a few general top tips to think about before speech writing and delivery itself.
1. Start with the end in mind – by this consider what you want to say in the time you have to speak. What can you talk about that will be of interest to everyone and be memorable for all the right reasons!
2. Speak Succinctly – every word, every sentence has to earn its place and less really is more. Maybe your emotions will take over and you’ll go off at a tangent and that’s ok as long as you don’t waffle. It’s a big day after all. There’s merit in sticking to the key points and making each word matter – and be heard – there’s nothing more irritating than not being able to hear someone or listening to someone d r o n e o n ! Save cracking jokes that only a select few will ‘get’ for the party afterwards.
3. See your speech as having a conversation – a speech is just a conversation – with everyone. A great speech makes everyone feel included.
4. Every speech needs structure – no matter how short it is structure is essential and three key points interwoven between a strong opening and close usually works well.
5. How you speak – the three P’s, the pitch of your voice, is it too high in places or too low, is the pace too fast or slow, have you given yourself and your audience time to hear by using pauses in the right place. Considered use of Pitch, Pace and Pause will impact speech delivery.
6. How your body ‘talks’ – bringing your speech to life with gestures, facially and physically
7. Congruency – quite possibly the most important point. When your voice and body work together, this is when your words come to life appropriately and really connect you with your audience who will be willing you to do well as they hang on every word! V
8. Video and/or record yourself – the more you get to know your speech, the easier it will come out on the day. It’s better not to learn it word for word because if you ‘get a blank’ and ‘go off script’ it can be hard to recall what comes next. You only need to know the key points so you can recall them from personal memory. Remember, no-one but you will know what you’ve left out or forgotten, so knowing the key points and how to link them together will keep you on track. Recording it on your phone is a good way to really ‘hear’ what works and where to make changes. The trick is to stay calm!
A Few Practical Tips For the Day Itself
1. Hydrate well. Drink plenty of water before you speak and make sure there is a bottle or glass of water close at hand. Sip water slowly before you speak and regulate your breathing. Make time to do some simple vocal exercises on your way to the wedding, or if you can vocalise/practice your speech in the room before everyone arrives.
2. Stand Tall – when you stand, take a moment to settle yourself, spread the weight evenly on your feet, it’ll help you feel grounded and more prepared.
3. Breathe and Smile – Before you begin, look out across the room, smile and make eye contact with a few people and breathe. This is a vital part of ‘relaxing into your speech’ and will bring everyone’s attention to you.
4. Prompt Cards – can be useful with a few key words on each and are easier to handle rather than rustling sheets of paper. Even if you don’t use the prompt cards, it’s reassuring to know you have them.
5. Look out not down – sound travels in the direction you hold your head, so if you’re looking down at notes, down is where your voice will go. If using notes, raise them up.
6. Using a microphone means you can talk normally – familiarise yourself with its range with a practice run beforehand. This will help you relax and you won’t need to worry about being able to project your voice so everyone can hear.
Finally, really great speeches come from the heart. We listen with our ears and our eyes and speeches really are much more than words.
P.S. Looking to perfect your speech with a pro? Janie is running a Wedding Speech Workshop on March 10th. Find out more here!
Main photo by Tomasz Kornas
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Pamela enjoys writing about all things decor (she loves buying it too) and has a not so secret addiction to stationery.