The Big Moment Arrives...
The wedding ceremony is out of the way, the photographs have been taken and all that stands between you and two weeks on a beach is the most important speech you’ll ever make in your life. For the Groom it is the one major task of the whole event, get it right and it will be an experience that stays with you forever. Get it wrong and it will also have the same affect. Here are my top ten tips to getting it right.
- Rehearsal – you’re never going to pull it off unless you’re confident with what you’re saying and that’s not going to happen unless you’ve been through it enough to get to know the flow and the content. It might sound obvious but as a groom speech writer I speak to an awful lot of Grooms who keep putting it off until the last moment. And avoid doing it in front of friends or relatives, they only tend to hinder the process with unqualified thoughts. Only you will know what really works for you and what you want to say.
- Print out – Rehearsing is one thing, doing it right is another and there’s one basic tip: print the speech out. If you simply read it to yourself from a smart phone, tablet or laptop, you’re never going to spot the mistakes or awkward phrases. Print it out and speak into the hairbrush.
- Microphone – always use one if it’s on offer. Nothing is going to grind the guests down quicker than not being able to hear the speeches. Everybody looks forward to them and they want to be able to hear everything. Wedding venues, whatever design they might be, usually have poor acoustics, so if there’s a way to amplify your voice, take it. If not you’ll have the attention of the table right under your nose and other guests visibly straining to hear whilst the rest talk amongst themselves. In my life before booming a groom speech writer I was a broadcaster and I know there's nothing harder than trying to talk to a crowd without amplification. So avoid.
- Pace – a slow measured pace works wonders. You could pretty much read out the menu for the day and if it’s done with enough thought, calm and a steady delivery, you’ll have people in stitches/tears. You want everyone to get the jokes, you want everyone to hear the thanks, so remember to constantly reign yourself back in and keep it super relaxed.
- Alcohol – this is the same advice that I give to Best Men, a little is better than none and a lot is the worst idea ever. Abstaining from booze on the day until you’ve made your speech sounds highly laudable but it’s actually not that bright. Most Grooms will be gasping for liquid refreshment and giving it a miss until the speeches is just another prompt for trying to get things over as soon as possible. Have a couple of drinks in the hours running up to the speech and you’ll feel more relaxed and less inclined to attack the speech like a rhino.
- Shakey hands – even if you’re not feeling a bit nervous your hands are going to a bit more wobbly than usual with all that adrenaline pumping through your system. If you’ve got something to lean on like a lectern, steady yourself with one hand on it leaving the other hand to gesture – like Obama. If there’s nothing to help you out, mount your notes on a clipboard or something stiff that’s going to hide the nerves.
- Look up – this is vital and will only really work if you’ve practiced enough. If you’ve got a good idea in your head about what the next bit in the speech is, use the prompt card to set you off and then deliver the lines looking into the crowd. Even if you skimped on the rehearsal never go more than two lines without pausing and looking up and at the guests. A groom with his head buried in a bundle of notes is painfully dull.
- Water – one of the most debilitating effects of nervousness is having a dry mouth, and one of the most uncomfortable things to listen to is somebody…with a dry mouth. But having a glass of water here is no huge revelation. There is, however, one trick: make sure it’s a big heavy glass of water and not some little tumbler. You’re nervous and with shaky hands I’ve seen Grooms who can barely get it to their mouths without it looking like there’s some sort of earthquake. A nice big, heavy pint glass hidden away for a few well deserved sips is the perfect remedy to both problems.
- Use the crowd – they’re animated, on your side and want to digest everything you’re saying, so they are also the perfect barometer of assessing how things are going down and also good fun to engage off script with. If you can see tables of guests looking pained or talking amongst themselves then something – almost certainly the sound - isn’t working. Don’t plough on: this is a once in a lifetime opportunity. Stop, ensure that everyone can now hear and off you go again. Nothing winds up suitably refreshed middle aged wedding goers than straining to hear if they’ve been thanked or not.
- Mental game – Put yourself in the right frame of mind. It may be the biggest speech you’ll ever make but it’s also by far the easiest and you’ve got to get your head around that before start. Put it to yourself like this: you know what you’ve got to say, you know there are some belters in there and you’re looking forward to thanking people who mean something to you. That is a great position to be in. Enjoy it.