Saturday, November 22, 2008

The Dreaded Wedding Speech

In this article I am going to offer a little advice from seeing literally hundreds of wedding speeches over the years. But giving advice is often regarded as a bit overbearing.
Oscar Wilde, a proficient and experienced advice giver, said: "I never give a woman advice. In fact one should never give her anything she can't wear in the evening."
And now a howler from a child's exam paper: "Socrates was a great Greek teacher. He went around giving people advice. They killed him."
Despite the possible perils of following in Socrates' footsteps, I still feel inclined to throw in my two cents worth.
Why Plan?
Some people do ask themselves the question: "Why should I plan my wedding speech?" But some people don't even consider planning until it's too late. Which group would you rather be in?
You may have heard the saying, "Failing to plan is like planning to fail". A truer word has never been said.
You might feel able to "wing it", or you might feel that planning a speech is easy and quick. I have had a staggering number of grooms call me over the years, a week and less before the wedding, who have suddenly realized that they have no idea what to say or how to say it.
Planning a speech is not generally something quick and easy unless you are an expert or have access to one.
When deciding if you are going to plan in advance, consider the following issues:-
1. People do remember the speeches. Even if they don't remember the words used, they will remember if the speeches were good or bad.
2. One very potent reason for planning is that the majority of weddings these days are videoed, and who wants their failures to be immortalized on film? I am reminded of the Irish wedding where the father of the bride's wallet was stolen at the reception. The mystery was solved when the video was processed: the best man was seen nicking it. Obviously things like this won't happen to any honest and conscientious best man, but there is a lesson there to be learned: your performance may be around to haunt you or to support your self esteem for years to come.
3. Get the right sort of help. You wouldn't take on a plumber to fix your TV, or a mechanic to fit a carpet. So if you need help and advice on making a public speech, it must make sense to turn to a professional public speaker. If you can’t afford to pay for professional help think about who you know that has experience in public speaking or someone who gave a speech that you liked.
4. Planning the speeches should be part of planning the wedding. People plan and budget for every aspect of the wedding: the church, the organ, the reception venue, the food, champagne and flowers. Every aspect, that is, apart from the speeches. Often completely inexperienced men (and women) are thrown in front of an audience who are hoping against hope to be interested and entertained. Very often though they are bored, unable to hear or, worst of all, acutely embarrassed, perhaps by the speaker's material or perhaps by a speaker humiliating himself by lack of preparation.
It is a fact that there are a number of pitfalls lying in wait for the wedding speaker, like snakes in the grass, each with their own collection of snakebites. Mostly they arise from the rattlesnake of lack of knowledge:
· Snakebite 1: What must I include?
· Snakebite 2: How do I say it?
· Snakebite 3: When do I say it?
· Snakebite 4: How long should I speak for?
· Snakebite 5: What else do I have to do?
· Snakebite 6: How formal / informal should I be?
Of course one of the most deadly snakes is the wriggling, slithering anaconda of speech content. Among its snakebites are:
· Snakebite 7: Is it interesting?
· Snakebite 8: Is it snappy?
· Snakebite 9: Is it light, without being too frivolous?
· Snakebite 10: Is it clean?
· Snakebite 11: Is it appropriate?

I have a lot of notes and information on speeches that I’ve collected over the years, I’ll get them in order and typed up for a later blog.
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