Category Archives: Weddings

RULES IGNORED IN BEST MAN SPEECH AT PIPPA WEDDING

Apparently Pippa (then) Middleton  ignored my advice to her, for her best man, in my last post. There are many simple ‘rules’ that would have helped him. if he saw them he ignored them. The result according to various press reports was dismal :

‘posh wedding guests squirming’,  ‘best man turns air blue with bawdy jokes’, lewd best man speech flops’,  ‘toe-curling ten minute address made several close-to-the knuckle references including likening Pippa to a dog’, ‘crude sex references’  ‘unfunny, dull, clichés,’  ‘beyond cringe’,  ‘awkward silences’ and ‘dull, disrespectful and pilfered from the internet’.

The best man is quoted in one paper as saying : “As far as I’m aware it went fine.”

On the premise that typically the only speeches that get talked about are the bad ones, then he may have achieved some desired ‘celebrity’.

However…. if he had noted these simple ‘rules’ everyone would have liked his speech, not just him.

  1. Do not embarrass anyone, particularly the couple, don’t wash dirty linen in public
  2. Tell stories not jokes, particularly off the internet. Sound false and can fall flat
  3. Don’t go on too long, temptation to hog stage. 7 minutes enough for most
  4. Don’t just talk to your peer group. Grannies will not ‘get’ your in-jokes
  5. Check your speech with the real heroes of the day, the couple. Don’t be the hero.
  6. Think about what your audience want to hear, not what you want to say.

For more wedding speech wisdom check my  book Unaccustomed As I Am… The Wedding Speech Made Easy  in bookshops and on Amazon

 

 

ADVICE TO PIPPA. PERFECT WEDDING SPEECHES COST NOTHING!

The average wedding in the UK costs upwards of £20K. Venue, food, drink, flowers, invitations, accessories, accommodation, travel- (not to forget the outfits!) What will Pippa Middleton’s cost?

023_icing_on_cakeAs she prepares for the big day, it’s worth noting that Just about the only ingredients that come free are the speeches. They will, or should be, the icing on the cake of the perfect day.

The speakers will have been chosen. However, there is advice they can be given to help ensure the memorable day is made even more memorable.

Here are six suggestions.

  1. Stick to their brief.  Whichever speech they’re making, they must find out what is expected. Who else is speaking and what will they be saying. How long should they speak? Are there any specifics to include? Anything they shouldn’t mention?

_brain_gears2. Don’t procrastinate. The  speeches may be weeks away but it is never too soon to start preparing. They should have been written and checked by now. Leaving proper rehearsal time.

The more they rehearse, the  more spontaneous they will be. The more they rehearse the more confident they will be.

3. Find a thread. Rather than a random collection of reminiscences and anecdotes, it will help if they ‘hang’ their speech around a single theme or thread. The speech will flow better and be more memorable.

4. Don’t embarrass.  It is always tempting to tell a story  that maybe hilarious to a few who are ‘in the know’ but which is meaningless or, much worse, offensive to other guests. This is unlikely in such a high profile event but it is one of the commonest errors.

040_dirty_laundry

 

 

Don’t wash dirty linen in public!

 

5. Keep it short. Make sure they stick to the time agreed beforehand. (Generally, two to three minutes for the shorter speeches and seven or so for the longest.)  Don’t let them fall into the ‘nervousness’   trap of going on and on. As Dorothy Parker said: “Brevity is the soul of lingerie.” 

6. Tell stories, not jokes.  Don’t let them feel that jokes are obligatory. The audience will lap up personal stories well told and laugh along with them. They  will be on much safer, and easier ground if they let themselves off the hook of being the next ‘great’ stand-up co061_jokermic.

My book Unaccustomed As I Am… The Wedding Speech Made Easy is in bookshops and on Amazon

 

 

A WEDDING SPEECH BOOK THAT IS “PLEASINGLY UNGENDERED”

This nice expression  captures the principles in my book, “Unaccustomed as  I am … the Wedding Speech Made Easy,” It came from Kate Willis’ review in You and Your Wedding magazine. I like it! When I set out to write, I was surprised to find that the majority of existing titles  were specific to the ‘best man’ or ‘groom’ but few if any to the bride or best woman.

Traditions are changing, slowly

This bias can be explained, if not excused, by ‘tradition’. After all the word marriage comes from the Latin word ‘mas’ meaning male or masculine. And ‘tradition’ still influences much of the ceremonial. The Anglo-Saxon father would use his daughter as a form of currency to pay off his debts, the bride standing on the left is rooted in the groom’s need to keep his sword arm free for action to prevent ‘bride kidnapping!’

Some, not all, of these traditions  continue but one which is changing is in speech making. It is no longer a male bastion.  Most women I spoke to in my research, while still less likely to speak, saw it as much their role as that of the men. However this does not mean a need for books aimed at the bride or best woman .

The principles of the wedding speech are constant

In twenty years of coaching presentations and speech making, roughly equal numbers women  and men, I have never needed to give, or been asked for, different advice depending on gender. As I spell out in my book the principles of speeches are a constant:

“Whether formal or impromptu, religious or civil, straight or same sex, first, second, third or fourth marriage, at the heart is a constant: the celebration of the union of a couple. And the basics of a good speech are constant too. Depending on the nature of the event and the audience – hundreds of guests in a grand ballroom or a handful outside on  garden lawn – you may tailor the content of your speech, but stick to the principles.”

If you are speaking as a bride, best woman or mother you can find these constant principles in my book.  (So will the men.)

Unaccustomed As I Am … The Wedding Speech Made Easy” amzn.to/2bEoQSH

 

 

 

HOW TO HANDLE WEDDING SPEECH NERVES-10 IDEAS

Ten things to bear in mind to help you manage nerves about your wedding speech

1. It’s natural to feel nervous. As Mark Twain said ” There are two types of speakers: those who get nervous and those who are liars.”

2. The audience is on your side. Unlike some speaking events, like a political rally, you face no hostility . They  are not in critical mood. They don’t mind mistakes. They want you to succeed.

3. Know what is expected in your speech. Which speech? How long? Who’re you toasting? Who are you thanking? What must you cover? What to avoid?  Answers early on lends confidence to preparation.

4.  Don’t procrastinate.  For some, nerves leads to delay in preparing the speech. This increases pressure on performance leaving no time to rehearse . Get your brain in gear ,

5. Master your start. The toughest, nerviest time is when you stand up, your first few words. So keep them simple, easy to say, no ‘clever’ joke. If you practise nothing else, practise the first 30 seconds. Master these, the rest will seem easy.

6. Take ‘bite -size’chunks. Don’t think of your speech as, say, 5 daunting continuous minutes. Break it down into separate short sections. 30 seconds or so. Pause between them. This will  make your delivery easier

7. Signpost notes for security.  Reading a script, eyes down, loses your audience. Prepare short ‘signpost’ notes, to keep you on track. Pause, glance at them, look up, continue talking.

8. Keep it simple. Don’t write long paragraphs , difficult to deliver, adding to nervousness, difficult to listen to. Short sentences are easier to deliver. Avoid longdifficulttopronounce words .

9. Rehearse, rehearse, rehearse. Ask a friend to ‘to direct’ you, How do you come across? The more you rehearse the more spontaneous you’ll be. The more you rehearse the more confident you’ll be.

10. Let your body talk. Just before speaking, find a private space and do some vigorous powerful movement, fist pumping ( I am the greatest! ) The powerful feeling will carry into your speech. Try it! And listen to Beyoncé:

 ” I get nervous when I don’t get nervous. If I’m nervous I know I’m going to have a good show.”

More ideas  are in my book  Unaccustomed As I Am … The Wedding Speech Made Easy    Amazon now and bookshops.

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HOW WEDDING PLANNERS CAN IMPROVE WEDDING SPEECHES

I don’t envy wedding planners!  They have the  toughest of jobs making that special day even more special.  Everything comes under their influence! They don’t make the cake but they make sure it’s the best possible.

They don’t make the wedding speeches but could they do more to make them the best possible? Here are some practical suggestions.

096_conquer_nervesThorough briefing of all your wedding speakers  Your speakers will normally have been chosen because they are family members or close friends. Not necessarily for their speaking ability. And among them, even experienced speakers will be relatively ‘unaccustomed’ to  speaking at a wedding. This is where the  briefing counts. It gives you, the planner, the reassurance that the speakers know what is expected of them. It gives the speaker answers to essential questions that they need to write their best speech,

The questions wedding speakers should ask.  Which speech – who is the subject? How long should the speech be ( Get agreement!). What is the ‘pecking’ order of speaking? Who is to be thanked, for what? Are there any specific things to cover? Are there any no no’s that must not be mentioned?  What is the make-up of the guest audience – numbers, ages, groupings, relationships, languages, nationalities, other? Where do speeches fit into the timetable (speaking to late evening festivity is different to morning alertness!) Is there a ‘theme’ for the day to be reflected in the speech?

Offer draft discussion opportunity. Some speakers will welcome this. An informed second opinion is reassuring before finalising a speech and a date in the diary is a useful ‘copy date’ to keep speech preparation on track. Reassuring to you too

Some will resist any opportunity. This might reflect  confidence and competence from your speaker. But often it’s the reaction of the last-minute merchants. Having agreed to speak, possibly overcoming nervousness to say yes, they are putting off actually doing anything. You cant insist of course, but  these are the speakers who need, and will benefit, from your intervention.

Speech Delivery and performance support. However much preparation goes into a speech it is the way it is delivered that will make it a success. As the wedding planner you can help in two important ways. Firstly make sure the speaker can check out the venue well speaking.  Can they be seen, can they be heard, does the sound system work, are they well positioned to talk without being crowded, are they too distant, do they have water/champagne to hand?

IMG_2140Second and most essential (but most will resist) suggest, persuade them to rehearse. Several rehearsals, to a ‘director’  (it might be you?) to see how they come across. Clearly, loud enough, looking up,     pausing .  Tell your speakers the more they rehearse the more spontaneous they will be, the more they, and the guests will enjoy it, the more confident they will be.

So will you.