Unaccustomed as I am… The Wedding Speech Made Easy

PackshotAll wedding types will be catered for: big, small, religious, second marriage, atheist, straight, same-sex, church, field…

All speakers will be addressed: bride, groom, father, mother, best woman and literally everyone in between…

All eventualities will be planned for: mic failures, drunk guests, missing brides, smashed glasses, weeping FOBs, forgotten words…

All of which will be delightfully and wittily illustrated, with a mix of little-known wedding facts and a whole host of inspirational (or not) quotations.

 

Unaccustomed as I am… The Wedding Speech Made Easy is published on November 3rd, and is available for pre-order today on Amazon

THE ACTOR AND EMOTION

Unlike actors who benefit from a script by, say, Shakespeare, most speakers or presenters have to write their own words. This can lead to a common error among the less experienced of getting so caught up in getting the words right that they ignore the emotional connection they must make with their audience, whether one or a hundred.,

When we watch a play we expect to be engaged in an emotional experience but sometimes forget that an interviewer or conference delegate ‘audience’ also expects a level of emotional engagement. Professional actors know how to play on our emotions. This is how one answered some questions

Where does the emotion come from, the script or the actor?  cute-doggy

Emotion is a difficult word. It’s quite ambiguous. I looked up the definition and it says ‘A strong feeling deriving from one’s circumstances,’ which I think is the perfect answer. It is neither the words, nor the actor, but the circumstances of the script that will evoke emotion in the actor, if the actor allows them self to be available to emotion. The given circumstances include: what kind of environment the character is in, what they are doing, what they want in the scene, etc.

The script tells the actor where the actor is and what kind of emotional dilemma they have, and then it is the actor’s job to find a way to make the emotional dilemma and the given circumstances truthful. So the answer is both. It is a marriage of the two.

Can you fake emotion?

You tell me. If you can fool your audience you are a very good actor. I can’t. Maybe Judi Dench can. I can only try to be truthful. I’m not very good at the craft of pretending but I respect those who are. I think usually my way is to focus on what I want in the scene and let the emotion happen naturally, for example: I want to get my dream job.

Now I think about what is at stake if I don’t get my dream job: I will feel like I have never reached my full potential, I will not be able to express something I need to express, I will feel complacent and cowardly for not trying, etc. If I think about this, I start feeling all kinds of emotions – passion, excitement, fear, inspiration, and joy. But it happens naturally. Focus on what you want and why you want it. Make it personal to you!

People try to be emotional in their performance, rather than just trying to get what they want and to affect their audience or fellow actors. Sometimes you don’t have to show any emotion, but you can make people weep, just by saying what you are saying simply and clearly with commitment and conviction.

“Only connect! Only connect the prose and the passion.” E.M.Forster

UNACCUSTOMED AS I AM – THE WEDDING SPEECH MADE EASY

 My next book, out November 3:

All wedding types will be catered for:  big, small, religious, second marriage, atheist, straight, same-sex, church, field…

All speakers will be addressed: bride, groom, father, mother, best woman and literally everyone in between…

All eventualities will be planned for: mic failures, drunk guests, missing brides, smashed glasses, weeping FOBs, forgotten words…

All of which will be delightfully and wittily illustrated, with a mix of little-known wedding facts and a whole host of inspirational (or not) quotations.

You can order on Amazon now.

THE ACTOR AND PREPARING TO PERFORM

Generally pitches and presentations do not suffer from a lack of effort and hard work- research into the subject and the audience, development of an idea, a proposition and the supporting argument, a storyline or script and the visual aids/charts.

PREPARATION---compass  A lot goes on but, generally, at the expense of time spent in preparation for the performance at the end of it all, the performance, the way everyone comes across, which will determine success or failure . Professional actors perform for a living. Here is how one actor answered questions on preparation.

How do you approach preparing for performance?

Every actor has their own way of working. After time you find what works for you. There are two types of preparation for me: preparation that happens in the lead up to, and over the rehearsal period, and preparation that happens in the hours before the play begins.

During the rehearsal period my own private preparation work includes a lot of research and daydreaming, reading the script quietly to myself repetitively so that I become familiar with it.

Before I go on stage my warming up preparation includes doing a relaxation, stretching my body out, warming up my voice, and then going through my lines quietly to myself.

How do you handle the different demands of a script?

I break up my script into sections, or units, based on when my character changes tactic in a scene. This helps me focus on smaller sections of the script so that I can work on giving a more detailed, less generalised performance. Each unit is like each point in a speech.

At the beginning of each unit I write my intention, for example: to convince, to charm, to seduce, to make someone understand me, to inspire, to excite, to calm, to reassure etc. When I have worked out what my intention for each unit is, I focus on using my words to land my intention.

I underline key words to give more gravity to what I am saying.

How do you make the role your own?

When I start to read my script aloud I tend to move around a lot, or go for a walk. I physicalize what I am saying with my hands and my body, sometimes even in an overly exaggerated manner. I sometimes even stomp as I am learning my lines. All of this gets energy moving through the body, helps me lose any tension, makes me feel relaxed, and gets me out of my head.

The more embodied your script is in you, the more ownership you have over it, the more it is you. To me, performance is ownership of what you are saying and doing.

What steps do you take to connect with your audience?  

I try to say my lines as many different ways as I can so that I don’t get stuck in a habit.

I try to find a need to speak – I think of my lines as a need to communicate, rather than just a pre-prepared speech. No-one wants to hear something prepared. People want to feel like you are saying what you are saying to them and only them for the first time.

What do you look to get from rehearsal?

Emotional connection and clarity in what I want and what I am saying. To be comfortable with any blocking (movement on the stage) so that I don’t have to think about it – this comes from repetition. The more you can say your lines and do your movement over and over again in rehearsals, the more you can be free in performance.

Can you rehearse without an audience?

Yes. It is good to take time working on the script without the added pressure and nerves of rehearsing in front of an audience. You can get familiar with the script on your own.

However, it is then very helpful, if not essential, to have someone to rehearse with – to speak to, so that you stop thinking about how you sound, and you start focusing on how you are affecting the person you are speaking to. The most engaging actors are those who are focusing on who they are speaking to, not on themselves.

 “An ounce of performance is worth pounds of promises.”
Mae West