Some people don’t think about writing their Groom, Best Man or Father-of-the-Bride speech until a few weeks, or even days, before the big event. I know – because many of them call me in a last minute panic.
But I would never knock the luxury of giving yourself ample preparation time to write and rehearse your speech. It’s a bit like Usain Bolt’s winter training. It will enable you to maximise the chances of hitting the ground running on the day itself.
Here are some of the things you can start to think about and work on in those quiet months:
1) Research stories. This may involve contacting the bridesmaids for anecdotes about the bride, or parents for childhood memories about the groom. This type of research can take longer than you think. People (particularly parents) don’t want to be rushed when asked for this sort of information, so it is worth getting your email and phone requests in now.
2) Liaise with the other speakers: With any wedding speech there is a risk of covering ground that will be repeated in the other speeches. I would strongly recommend that however original you think your speech may be, you have a quick chat with the other speakers to work out who will thank who, and which areas you will each be covering to ensure there is no awkward overlap on the day itself.
3) Check out the venue: You might want to find out where you will be standing. Will there be a microphone? Will you have a lectern? This information will all come in useful when you start writing and practising.
4) Create a master document: This can be used for collecting all your thoughts along with everyone else’s. Even if it doesn’t seem so at the time, this process can end up being extremely useful in creating an overview, structure and theme when it comes to writing the speech itself. At this stage don’t worry about what’s interesting, what’s funny, or what’s off limits. Put everything down!
5) Keep an ear out: Particularly for quirks, quotes and snippets of potentially relevant information and jot them down in your master document.
6) Don’t just start writing: Put a structure in place first. Plan how the speech is going to flow, and what your key message and theme will be. That way the writing becomes much easier.
7) Call now! If you’re thinking of using a speech writer, then now is a good time to call. You’re likely to get more personal attention from me now than in those busy wedding season months, and you’ll be giving yourself a good month or two to rehearse your speech once you’re happy with it. Good preparation can make the difference between a good speech and a great one.
Some of the above may seem obvious, but the worst speeches are written in a rush. A speech is nothing without content or context. And they are best achieved through careful planning. Be aware though that however prepared you are, it is important you adapt your speech if something topical crops up nearer the time (e.g. Volcanoes in Iceland, World Cup results). If anything it will make your well planned speech look off the cuff and relevant, ensuring more respect and praise from your audience.
Very best wishes
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