The often-forgotten art of table numbers! We love it when our clients let us get creative with the details of their wedding, these clients were no exception.
Best Man, Maid of Honor, work conferences, meetings — we all know that there’s nothing worse than a boring or unprepared speech. I’ve given talks in front of hundreds of people at industry conferences but the toughest and most important speech that I ever made was as Matron of Honor at my sister’s wedding. These tips are for anyone giving a speech or presentation of any kind. Click on the video at the bottom to see if I managed to hold back the tears during my Matron of Honor speech.
Did I miss any public speaking tips? Let me know in the comments.
1. Tell a Story. Everyone loves a great story and it’s much easier to remember a story than a list of facts and figures. Interweave the facts portion of your speech with parts of a compelling story or a series of compelling stories that illustrate your point. Here’s a good example from Malcolm Gladwell.
2. Practice. I find it offensive when people “wing it” at wedding speeches. It’s a special day for your loved one and you will have the attention of more people than you may ever for the rest of your life. Maybe that sounds harsh, but I’ve seen far too many awful, train-wreck or downright boring speeches. It’s also frustrating when I attend a conference or event and it’s clear that the speaker hasn’t rehearsed.
3. Stand in 3 Places. It’s distracting to wander around the stage and can become a nervous habit. Choose up to three landing points on the stage and move between those three. Sheryl Sandberg does a decent job of this here.
4. Intonation. Use different tones of voice. Vary your pitch up and down. Mix it up with some loud parts and some almost-whispers. You’ll feel like a fool practicing it but it’ll make for a more engaging presentation.
5. Words on Slides. Don’t do it. Instead of words, use just images. You know why TedTalks are so engaging? Because they don’t read bullet points off of slides. When you have words on the slide, viewers are reading the words instead of listening to you. Let’s hope this applies only to conference-type speeches and not wedding speeches.
6. Better yet…no slides. Seriously. Try it.
7. Memorize It (maybe). For smaller-scale, emotional speeches like a Best Man or Maid of Honor speech, you should read from your notes. But for a large conference-style speech, you need to know it from memory. Here’s my memorization process:
+write out the speech and interweave stories that I tell that I already know by heart (no new memorization required for that part)
+practice reading it a zillion times: to myself and out loud
+write down the first sentence of each section on an index card
+practice going start to finish without stopping using just the index card…regardless of if I make a mistake
With this approach, I know the order of things, and once I get started with the section, I remember what part of the story I’m telling. When I’m nervous, I tend to go blank at transition points, so having the first sentence of each section reignites my memory.
8. Technical Difficulties. There are bound to be technical difficulties with any presentation. Always travel with your own adapters, arrive super early to test your slides, and don’t rely on a solid internet connection – save your presentation and any audio or visual onto your desktop. When something inevitably goes wrong, do like Steve Jobs and have a funny story to stall while the tech team fixes it.
Food is always a crowd pleaser. Here is just a sample of some food highlights from our recent clients.
Pretzels with labels that said “Kim and Bill tied the knot,” jars of locally made honey with tags saying “Love is Sweet,” a giant periodic table of macarons and test tubes with candied sunflower seeds for a couple who work as scientists and gourmet ice cream sandwiches with edible labels.
I’ve appeared on a ton of television shows like The Today Show, Good Morning America, CNN Headline News, ABC Nightline, 20/20, TLC’s Cake Boss, Pix11, Anderson Cooper and even did a hosting gig for Pier 1 and a pilot for the Bravo Network. Some of these segments went wonderfully, others were just shy of a crash-and-burn (at least in my perfectionist mindset). Here are a few of the things that I have learned along the way that I wish someone had told me before I did my first tv appearance.
1. What to Wear: Part 1. Wear solid colors. Patterns, especially small ones, are tough to look at on camera and lines (like pinstripes) become wavy lines. Stick with a solid color. Ladies, make your style statement with a necklace or earrings.
2. Makeup. Wear it! If you can’t have it done professionally, then wear evening-level makeup at the very least. You will feel like a drag queen but if you don’t, you risk looking like a psycho on screen. Gents, this goes for you too. Side Note: never assume that the news outlet will be providing you with hair and makeup, always arrive camera-ready.
3. What to Wear: Part 2. You can’t wear jangly things. They’ll hit your mic and/or cause trouble for the sound guys…ultimately you’ll probably be asked to remove them so just skip them in the first place.
4. Practice. Imagine the types of questions that the reporter will ask you and practice answering with concise sound-bites. Pretend it’s like Miss America and rehearse the perfect 15 second answer. The reporter will never ask you the questions you think they will, but at least you will know what you want to say. Since I’m naturally long-winded, I often need to practice for at least an hour or two the night before.
5. What to Wear: Part 3. Don’t wear white. There’s a thing called white balance (learn more here) that cameras need to do. If you wear white, you make the cameraperson’s job more difficult.
6. Memory Failure. Occasionally you might be given lines to read on camera. Don’t make the mistake of thinking “I’ve got a good memory, I’ll just skim them ahead of time!”because will remember absolutely nothing once the camera turns on (and probably end up crying to your husband in a car on the way home after the shoot.) Practice those lines until you know them cold – with different intonations, different speeds, frontwards and backwards. I usually have to spend at least a few hours memorizing just a paragraph or two of lines before a shoot.
7. What to Wear: Part 4. Wear something that your mic pack can easily hook to. Avoid having the clammy hands of a well-meaning sound guy down the back of your dress. Instead, wear a cute belt or separates.
8. Smiling. You will feel like a fool, but you need to smile or have a vague smile on your face at all times. Remember that hilarious viral video about a b*tchy resting face? Trust me – when it comes to tv, you will have a nervous resting face which translates to b*tchy for all the viewers. When practicing your answers (see #4 and #6), be sure to keep a smile or generally pleasant look on your face at all times. For references, study videos of your favorite newscasters.
9. Speak in sound bites. Start your answers with repeating the interviewer’s question (see example below)…it makes the tape easier to edit. Be concise with your responses and have a defined start and end. No ums, ahs or trailing off. Practice eliminating common words and phrases that we say in normal conversation like “you know?” and “like.”
Example Reporter Question: “What is a new trend in weddings today?”
Example Response: “A new trend in weddings today is bridal mohawks because…”
10. Other Details. Live TV is just what it sounds like – no messing up. Live to tape is the same thing – they won’t let you re-do anything. For taped (aka pre-recorded) segments, they can re-do things but it’s generally frowned upon. If you’re doing a remote interview where the reporter is in a different city, you will be locked into a small, windowless room with a camera, desk and an earpiece so you can hear their audio. They will give you a warning of when they’re about to start and you’ll hear the intro for your segment. Stare directly down the barrel of the camera and blink at a regular pace so you don’t look like a serial killer.
11. Bonus Tip! Have an opinion. Whatever you are being asked, take a side. Chances are you’re not running for office, so you won’t be taken to task over your opinion. If you are wishy-washy it makes for boring television. Take a stand and stick to it.
Did I miss any good television tips? Let me know in the comments.
We’ve seen some incredible bridal bouquets over the years. Here is just a sampling of some of our recent favorites. Hint: one of these belongs to Sarah Pease, can you guess which one? Read on to find out.
Left to right and top to bottom: Lianna’s flowing, garden-y bouquet by Blossom & Branch and photo by Lauren Rutten, Sarah Pease’s colorful bouquet by Rountree Flowers and photo by Photo by Aubrey, Alena’s beachy boho bouquet by Planner1 and photo by Elizabeth Medina, Lauren’s art deco bouquet by Heather Lee and Cristina Lozito and photo by Jonathan Young, Britten’s classic bouquet by Rountree Flowers and photo by Craig Warga.