Are you preparing a wedding speech and wondering what to say?
I have developed three questionnaires to help the traditional speakers prepare the content that they might want to weave into their speech. My clients often use one of these to prepare for our first meeting.
I’m afraid that they are not templates for creating your speech, simply a way of pulling together all the information that may become useful.
So if you have had trouble getting through to me on the phone and want to get going, then please start here:
If you happen to be visiting the show, I will be there for all three days giving free speech-related advice to anyone who asks! If you read this beforehand, please drop me an email and we can arrange a specific time to meet.
Because public speaking is, by definition, a ‘live’ event, mistakes are inevitable. As a speech writer, I am often approached by people who have had a bad public speaking experience in the past, and with them in mind, here are a few things to avoid to ensure that you minimise your chances of something equally horrible happening to you!
Drinking too much beforehand
Forgetting that you only have two hands. This means that it isn’t easy to hold your speech in one hand, your microphone in another, and still have a spare hand to click through any accompanying slides
Typing your speech in a font that’s too small to read at arms length
Typing your speech in a colour that’s too light to read in a dimly lit room
Not numbering your cards / pages and so panic ensues when you drop them on the floor as you are about to start speaking
Not taking a glass of wine with you to make a toast at the end of the speech
Speaking so quickly that no one can keep up with the points you’re making
Speaking so quietly that no one can hear you
Staring down at your speech and forgetting that you should actually be addressing your audience
Looking glum throughout. Unless you are Jack Dee, this tends to be a real turn off.
This list isn’t meant to scare you, and nor is it comprehensive. But it is amazing how the silliest things can ruin the most beautifully written speech. As ever, preparation is key. If you know your content, have checked out the venue, and have practised out loud, then your odds are good.
Please let me know if I can help with any aspect of this.
Why use someone you have never met, who doesn’t know you and who you may never meet again to write what could be the most important speech of your life?
Why tell a complete stranger many of your deepest secrets and innermost thoughts?
Isn’t it cheating to have your own words written, or even edited, by someone else?
There is only really one answer, which is that when something matters this much to you, you may believe that you are not in the best position to get it quite right.
Most people who require professional help with a speech fall into one of these four categories:
They find it hard to put pen to paper
They find it hard to deliver words in front of an audience
They are just too busy to find the time
A combination of the above
A professional simply seeks to reduce your stress by providing the writing skills and coaching on delivery to enable you to give the best speech possible.
You may fear that getting help is cheating. On that basis, so is surfing the internet for recycled quotes. Or buying books about how to make a great speech.
Unfortunately, those two routes have been walked many times. Which means that although they may contain a lot of sense, they tend also to have been copied to death.
A professional speechwriter should guarantee you originality.
It is actually a little bizarre that people are so embarrassed about seeking help for a speech. After all, public speaking is a renowned phobia, and a professional can help provide the confidence you require to overcome it.
Huge amounts of money go into organising a big event. But unlike the flowers, the starters or the fifth glass of wine, most people will go home afterwards and remember the speeches. At a work event they can make the difference between winning and losing a piece of business. In politics they can be the catalyst leading to an election victory or humiliation.
Come to think of it, why don’t more people use a professional speechwriter?!
There is a school of thought that ‘great’ and ‘PowerPoint’ should never be used in the same sentence, and it is true that there are many other ways to engage your audience.
However, PowerPoint is a fact of business life, and it can be an incredibly impactful tool when used in the right way.
Too often it isn’t. So here are a few tips to help you prepare your next one.
Create a structure that focuses around the key point you want to make.
Work from a Master Slide (or slides) – this makes it a lot easier to change things later on.
Aim never to have more than 10 words on one slide.
Remember that a relevant image or illustration will be immeasurably more impactful than a sentence.
Let slides build with your story, rather than giving away the outcome before you have delivered it.
As with all speeches and presentations, check whether it is relevant to your audience, approaches the subject in an interesting and original way, and sets things out simply.
Don’t forget that the audience are there to watch you, not your slides. Use the presentation to back up your message, not to replace your role in delivering it.
Don’t repeat the words on the slides behind you. It is a fact of business life that most of your audience will be able to read them too.
Make it clear when you are referring to a specific part of a slide rather than just gesticulating randomly into the air between you and it.
Avoid handing out a printed version of the presentation beforehand. Your impact will be nullified if your audience know what’s coming next.
As with all speeches and presentations, speak clearly, interact with your audience wherever possible, and emphasise key words and messages.
Many of the keys to a successful presentation come down to common sense. Preparation is key. You can never think too much about original ways to entertain your audience. Nor can you rehearse too much. Knowing what will appear on each click through the presentation is a must.
I would be delighted to review an existing presentation you have written or to help you create something original and impactful. In the meantime, I hope this helps.
Your speech is written. You’re happy with the content. And you’re now coming to grips with the logistics of delivering it.
Will there be a microphone?
Will you be speaking from the table or a stage?
Should you use prompt cards
My advice for the inexperienced speaker is that prompt cards are invaluable for a number of reasons:
They break the speech up into manageable chunks
The large font is easy to read
You can highlight words that bring the speech to life
They slow you down
Each card can finish with a natural pause
Card doesn’t shake as noticeably as paper if you get nervous
I am happy to arrange for your speech to be professionally typeset and posted to you (irrespective of whether I have written it). The cost for the entire process is £20 including UK delivery.
It is summer. Wedding bells are ringing and men of all shapes and sizes are desperately surfing the internet hoping to find an instant cure for the speech they have been dreading since the date was set.
Here are ten quick tips to help you get started:
It’s not just you. Many men worry that their speech will ruin their wedding day. And that goes for grooms, best men and fathers of the bride around the country.
Beating the nerves is all about preparation in two areas: Writing the speech and giving it.
It’s worth contacting friends and family who have known the bride and groom at different stages of their lives to gather unusual anecdotes and insights.
What will your audience want to hear? There is nothing worse for Grandma than a best man’s speech focusing exclusively on the Stag’s drinking exploits in Amsterdam dressed as Spiderman. Try to include something for everyone.
Try to map out a framework for the speech that combines a sensible balance between sincerity and humour. An over-sentimental speech can be dull. But a stand-up comedy routine can miss the point entirely.
There is no ‘perfect’ shape or style for a speech. You may want to take a thematic or chronological approach. But the key is brevity. Avoid rambling paragraphs in favour of short, punchy, deliverable sentences.
This punchy style means you’ll be able to give the speech much more confidently. Practise it out loud over and over again, reading very slowly and emphasising key words.
Get to know your speech so well that you only need to glance at your notes to remember what comes next. The slow pace will make this easy and allow you to make eye contact with your audience.
Find out where you’ll be standing, whether there will be a microphone, and if there will be somewhere to rest your notes. This will avoid nasty surprises that might keep you awake the night before.
If you are still worried, please call me. I’d love to help you write something truly original, memorable and easy to deliver.
Every speech requires different delivery. And every speaker has a different style. But these tips are relevant to pretty much everyone.
I hope you find them useful.
Talk slowly. If it takes 12 minutes, not nine, it doesn’t matter at all. Pause for effect. Your audience need time to digest the story before they get the punchline. So give them time to get it. Emphasise key words. Imagine you’re teling a story without a script. You’ll say some words louder than most. And change your inflection on others. Practise. However well written the speech, you don’t want to be ‘reading’ it. Know it well enough that it just becomes a safety net. Gesticulate. Body language is vital. If you’re addressing someone, look at them. Use your arms to emphasise a point.
Be put off by a heckle. You can pre-prepare a couple of responses to a noisy member of the crowd.
Give in to the shakes. Paste your speech onto card. Or rest it somewhere you can see it. Find out if there’s a lectern. Holding a shaky piece of paper will put you off before you get going. Get drunk beforehand. It may feel like the easy way to get through it, but it won’t seem so sensible afterwards. Just read it out. Great material is irrelevant if it’s delievered badly. You’ll be much more natural when you’re not reading straight from the page.
Even if I haven’t written your speech or presentation, I’d be delighted to arrange a session to help you deliver it. I can also arrange for your speech to be professionally printed onto A6 card and delivered to you (all for £20+VAT within the UK). Please let me know if you’d like some help.
No speechwriter in the world can get going without any content.
I have put this questionnaire together to help you gather the information to help start you off. Please be aware that this is not a template for a speech, simply a way of gathering information about you, your audience and your subject to start to make your speech truly original and relevant.
I hope it will get you thinking about what you could and should say.
If you’d like me to help you write your speech, then please give me a call before you complete it as this is a generic version and I can email you a specific questionnaire for different occasions. Ideally, we can skip this process by meeting up or arranging time for a detailed conversation over the phone.
What is it?
Where is it being held?
Do you know anything interesting about the venue?
Have you been there before?
Who is hosting it?
The context for your speech
At what stage in the event will you be speaking?
Who is giving the other speeches and what will they mainly be talking about?
What’s the order of speeches?
Who will be introducing you?
Do you know that person, and if so, is there anything humorous we can say about him or her?
How do you think he or she is likely to introduce you?
Will you be finishing with a toast? If so, who to?
Who are you principally talking about?
How do you know him / her?
When did you meet him / her?
Where and when was he / she born?
Where did he / she go to school?
Are there any great stories associated with this period?
Did he / she go to college / University? Any stories here?
What was his / her first job?
What jobs has he / she done subsequently? Any great work stories?
What does he / she do now?
Could you describe him / her physically?
Could you describe his / her personality in three words?
What are his/ her main hobbies / interests?
Can you give a brief outline of his/ her family situation?
Can you give an example of a great story or two that you’ve been involved in with him / her? (when was it?)
If there was a theme to hold your description of him / her together, what would it be?
Your second subject
(For example, if this is a best man’s speech this would be
the bride; if it’s a groom’s speech, this could be your
Is there someone else fundamental to making this speech work?
Can you give a brief outline of their life?
And the role that they’ve played in changing the life of your main subject?
Any other subjects
Who else do you want to mention and what do you want to say about
Your speaking style
What proportion of the speech would you like to be sincere and what proportion funny?
How long would you like to speak for?
Are you, by nature, shy or extrovert?
How nervous will you be when you stand up to speak?
How would you like to introduce yourself?
How many people will be there?
How many of them will know you?
Do you need to thank people who have travelled from afar or who
are particularly special?
Do you expect it to be a relatively sedate or loud atmosphere?
What can’t we mention?
Are there subjects not covered above that you know will amuse / interest your audience? Please give me as much detail as possible, particularly if we won’t be meeting up to chat this through before I start writing.
According to Google, quarter of a million people in the UK who wanted to find more about ‘speeches’ did so by typing ‘speach’ into the search engine.
Whether you are looking for help with your speech, speach, or even a speych, I’d be delighted to help.