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 was delighted to be quoted in the Metro New York newspaper on August 20th regarding the new trend of dinner party apps. Read the full article here!
Broken shards of glass, pools of water and a fire hazard are not exactly the hallmarks of a dream wedding day. Experience has taught us that cylinder vases filled with water and a floating candle lining your ceremony aisle are a disaster waiting to happen. Chances are that one of your excited wedding guests will knock over one of these vases while finding their seat, fidgeting during the ceremony or while applauding during your recessional. The mess created is not only hazardous, but could interrupt your ceremony in a very bad way. Just one easy, pretty and safer candlelit alternative? Try lanterns hanging from wrought-iron shepherds hooks!
We’ve all seen those incredible photos of couples exiting their ceremony or reception with sparklers, bubbles, confetti or rice. What you may not know is that those moments have usually been carefully orchestrated behind-the-scenes! Here are a few tips:
Every bride and groom dream of a great party at their wedding reception, and in most cases, that dream includes a packed dancefloor. Keep the dancefloor full by planning your reception start time with sunset in mind – this is especially important in the summer months when the sun doesn’t go down until around 8:30pm.
Think about it: your favorite club doesn’t have fluorescent lightbulbs or natural light streaming in because people prefer to dance in darker, ambient atmospheres. Too much light makes people self conscious and shy, and your dancefloor will be anemic as a result. Also, any candlelight you’ve used in your decor won’t have any impact if your reception space is flooded with natural light. If your venue has any kind of windows, use this sunset calculator to determine when the sun will go down and schedule your reception accordingly.
Photo courtesy of Italian Weddings.
I recently partnered with Pier 1 Imports to help transform a bland Brooklyn loft apartment into a party paradise! With food and drinks by chef/mixologist Yvan Lemoine, these three lucky ladies had an amazing home makeover and transformation. Watch episodes 1-4 below and see what tips and tricks you can learn for hosting a fabulous party in your own home this holiday season.
Take a table runner, mix it with a hydrangea centerpiece and you get this spectacular idea. Clean and simple but has a huge visual impact without obstructing the view across the table. Genius!
Today’s post is courtesy of my secret speech-writing weapon, Victoria of The Oratory Laboratory. She is the master at creating perfectly funny, yet heartfelt speeches written in your own voice, and will coach you so your delivery is the icing on the (wedding) cake.
The Unspoken Truth of Speaking. If you’d rather fly over the Atlantic on a sofa with wings than speak in public you’re not alone. 75% of the population are terrified at the prospect of speaking before an audience and that probably includes your maid of honor, the best man and yes, even your father.
The internet provides tips galore about what to say and what not to say at weddings but seldom do you see any good advice about the delivery. Everyone has their own strengths and weaknesses, but here are a few common pointers that you may want to gently pass on to your wedding party.
1. Don’t try and memorize your speech. Do you think Obama doesn’t have twenty transparent teleprompters in front of him?? A speech is a contrived and well prepared form of expression- the audience are expecting you to take notes up there with you.
2. Don’t rush. This is a story and you’re telling it for the first time to the people listening. They want to join you on this little journey so give them time to take it all in.
3. Don’t just read the speech; connect with what you’re saying as you’re saying it. If you’re telling a story about your childhood, take yourself back and there and think about all the small the details, how you felt, who was there etc
4. Practice your speech as if you were reading it to a room full of five year olds to find the playfulness in the text. Jump up and down on your bed while shouting it, read it in a bad Scottish accent if you want. Once you have fun with it you can always rein the crazy back in.
5. Keep your feet hip-width apart. Your bottom half should feel solid and grounded so that you’re free to gesticulate without falling about the place. If you’re leaning or swaying you lose the energy and presence that stillness creates.
6. Before you start, take a couple of seconds to take in the room and your audience. Take a breath and begin only when you’re ready. This will ensure the audience are 100% with you from the start and you’ll feel more in control.
Call it a chuppah, call it a mandap, call it a canopy or an arch…this is downright dreamy!