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Q. I'm not a natural public speaker and I really want to nail my wedding speech. Any advice?
A. Laurence Bernstein says: Laurence says: For many of us, the prospect of speaking at a wedding can ruin the entire build-up, not to mention the day itself. Unsurprisingly, there's a growing demand for help from professional speechwriters. Here are my top tips:
- BE RELEVANT We've all heard a classic 'cut and paste' wedding speech and seen a sheepish best man recite jokes that he sourced online. Relevance means writing about the bride or groom in a way that could only be about them. For example, a best man wanted to talk about how often the groom got into trouble growing-up. It turned-out that he loved cartoons as a child and still wears his red and black school rugby shirt, so we suggested a theme that compared him to Dennis the Menace. That was relevant and fun – the speech went down a storm.
- MAKE IT HEARTFELT – BUT NOT TOO MUCH! Speak from the heart! Don't be afraid to show vulnerability and remember that your guests will have invested their time and money in being with you – and this is an opportunity to demonstrate that it's worth it. But please inject some humour to provide some much-needed balance.
- BE CLEAR You can write the best speech in the world but you still have to deliver it. Rehearse it out loud, becoming familiar with your words and emotions. Practice breathing slowly and looking your audience in the eye. Edit the words until they become punchy and easy to deliver. Clarity is crucial to an audience.
- SEEK PROFESSIONAL ADVICE You're not expected to bake your own cake or sew your own dress so why write the speech alone? Speechwriters take all your anecdotes and ideas and craft them into an eloquent speech that retains your voice. If delivery isn't your thing either, you can also hire a delivery coach.