Tuesday, April 7, 2009
Groom speech survival guide
You will not find a cookie-cutter, fill-in-the-blank speech here. GroomGroove.com believes that a good speech needs to be original. Those kind of wedding speeches are Boring (with a capital B), are never funny and don't reflect that the groom gave a damn about the most important speech of his life. And if you're tempted to find some jokes to put into the speech, odds are that you won't like the jokes and that you won't be comfortable delivering the lines. That certainly will not help you if your goal is to get through the speech as quickly as possible. The worst part is that the audience will know that you didn't write them. With that in mind, this survival guide will: (1) give you the tools you need to write and present a good speech, (2) cover some Dos and Don'ts, and (3) provide all-important instructions on how to fight a case of nerves.
Aim to have a speech that is at maximum three or four minutes in length. This may seem like a long time, but it goes by very quickly, especially if you have followed GroomGroove.com's advice and prepared the speech in a couple weeks in advance. In fact, you are going to have to force yourself to slow down! That's the good news.
Prepared Text or Bullet Points but not Off-the-Cuff
It's safest to follow a prepared text or bullet points rather than deliver something off-the-cuff. Preparing the text will keep you on message and allows you to write something that is meaningful.
If you foresee getting nervous, the easiest thing to do is to read from a prepared text. This technique will certainly keep you on message, and is a good idea for those who are terrified of public speaking. As you're reading the text, you will want to make eye contact with your audience every few words or sentences.
That means looking up from your papers to the very back of the room while speaking, and periodically making direct eye contact with individuals. The key is to look up frequently and keep speaking while doing so.
Cue Cards, Paper and other Nuts and Bolts
Put your speech on cue cards or 8.5x11 sheets. Either works, but sheets will allow you to type the speech and make edits easily. It is essential that you number your pages so as to safeguard against the unfortunate event that your sheets fall off the podium. Really awkward! Make sure that you print your speech so that the lettering is large enough to read with ease. That probably means 14-16 point font. For an extra touch, try putting the text only on the top half of your sheets, which will keep your head up as you deliver the speech. Finally, put the speech inside your jacket before you leave for the ceremony. You won't have time (nor will you want to) run back to the house to get it!
Saying Thank You
If you are the groom, your wedding day will be hectic. You may not have a great conversation with anyone, not even your roommate from college who has come all the way from Boise. Speeches allow you to make a general thank you but also connect you and special guests.
By naming all or many of the places from where people have traveled, you will be drawing a virtual map in your audience's imagination and acknowledging your friend from Boise. It's a nice touch that makes people feel special.
While it is important to thank your guests, you have to remember that you're not accepting an Oscar. You should specifically name and thank only a few key people, such as your parents, your in-laws, your best man and, of course, your bride.
Practice Makes Perfect
The most important thing you can do is to write and edit your speech a few weeks in advance, and practice the delivery. GroomGroove.com suggests doing this with a work colleague or someone who might not be at the wedding, rather than in front of a mirror. They will be able to truthfully tell you if you've made an inappropriate joke or if the speech is boring or if you speak really fast.
(See also below for practicing the speech in the room where it will be delivered as a calming technique.)
Stay calm, and nobody gets hurt
Public speaking is up there with visits to the dentist, road trips to visit inlaws or college calculus exams. If you are like most people, you avoid any situation that requires you to make speech. Fortunately, there are ways to cope with the public speaking jitters and to control your nerves.
Timing is everything
Ask the master of ceremonies when exactly your speech will be so that you can mentally prepare. You don’t want to be surprised.
Take a few slow deep breaths before the Master of Ceremonies calls you up, as you are getting up from your seat and before you begin by saying “Good afternoon”. Rhythmic breathing will force your heart to slow down. Equally so, go slowly at first and pause between your first few sentences. For some reason, people think they are speaking slowly, where in fact they are not.
Admit you are nervous
You can calm yourself down is by admitting to your audience that you're nervous at the outset. It humanizes the experience and if done with a bit of humor you'll get a laugh which will relax you. Remember, the audience is there for the wedding and not to critique your speechmaking ability.
Practice the speech in the room, with the mic
Practicing the speech beforehand in the room where it will be delivered, with no (or little) audience has a soothing effect. If possible, it is even more calming to practice with the microphone beforehand. If this is not possible, remember to avoid fiddling with the mic at the outset unless necessary.
Did we mention preparation?
Preparation is the ultimate key to good speechmaking and calm nerves.
So, be a man, grab the bull by the horns and start planning that speech! Good luck!