Lawrence Bernstein founder of (and senior writer at) Great Speech Writing gives his 12 public speaking tips! These are based on hundreds of conversations with worried speakers around the world and summarises the advice Lawrence gives most regularly to clients.
‘Before and after’ videos
We filmed these videos before and after coaching each speaker.
The subject matter of these videos is diverse: from a very heartfelt eulogy to an internal business update. But the similarities are stark. At the heart of each is clearer, punchier and more relevant content. This enables each speaker to deliver with better pace, more confidence and greater impact.
Videos: 4 speakers; 4 subjects; 4 transformations
Video: Best Man
Video: Business Speech
Video: Client Briefing
Please call us on 0207 118 1600 or email us if you would like any help writing or delivering your speech or business presentation. Our coaching and training services are explained in more detail on our business site.
A few observations on these videos
These clips were not intended to demonstrate the perfect speech. They simply show how easy it is to transform your impact by adhering to some simple principles. As ever, we worked on two key areas in conjunction:
Whether is is a best man speech or a business presentation, speakers often fall into the trap of trying to say too much. This lends itself to detailed, impersonal content. We suggest writing down all your thoughts as ‘notes’ and then stepping away to ask some vital questions. What will your audience really want to hear? What do they already know? What will make them laugh? What’s likely to be the mood in the room when you start? What do you want it to be when you finish? Is there a theme you can use to draw these together in a memorable, engaging way?
That creates your brief. It’s now possible to look back at your original set of notes and begin to judge where they will actually add value, and how they will best work in conjunction. The aim is to be crisp, original and relevant. In each of these videos, there is a clear switch towards these.
Unless your content works, it is hard to believe in it. Without that confidence, compelling delivery is next to impossible. That’s why we always suggest starting with content. Writing it in a punchy, effective way will make it sound more impactful. There are, of course, a number of ways to get the most out of it. Watch how each speaker looks up ‘after’ their coaching session. Eye contact is vital. They also smile now and then – humanising their delivery! In every case they also speak slower, emphasizing key words. They are still reading their text (which was only re-written minutes beforehand!), but the slower pace enables them to glance at the next soundbite before delivering it to the audience.
We will write specific pieces on lessons to learn from each of these videos. But the overall lesson is clear: think first about the audience; make what you say relevant, and then deliver it slowly and with real meaning. Simple!
Watch this video if you need help with your Father of the Bride Speech
Groom Speech nerves?
There are various challenges unique to the Groom speech at a wedding. First and foremost, you have to avoid ‘listing’. There are so many people to thank and mention that, if you’re not careful, the speech can become deathly dull and lengthy.
On the flip-side, this may be the only opportunity you’ll ever have to thank your parents for their decades of love and attention; your siblings for their friendship and support; the in-laws for being so accommodating and welcoming; your best man for being such a rock; the bridesmaids for being so terrific to your fiancé. The list goes on, although it may have gone too far when you hear yourself publically thanking the waitresses for pouring the wine.
Tips for your Best Man Speech
We, at Great Speech Writing, write a lot of speeches and there’s no doubt that the best man has the hardest job of all. You’ve got to be funny but you can’t push things too far at the risk of offending any number of sensitive souls in the room.