Writing and giving a speech can be a nerve wracking experience. Throw in a wedding day, where you would like to give the best and most memorable speech of your life, and the whole experience can be guaranteed to make you break into a cold sweat! This is where Mark Angus of Adelaide Wedding Speeches comes in to smooth the way with speech writing and even speech coaching. So for anyone in the bridal party who will be on ‘speech duty’ – the groom, the best man, the father of the bride, the bridesmaids – this one’s for you. Read on…..
Please describe the services you provide?
We provide a range of services designed to help people to create and deliver a memorable wedding speech, or a set of personalised wedding vows. Our aim is to help those people who don’t necessarily feel comfortable speaking in public, or those who aren’t certain about their literary abilities, to be able to approach the day feeling relaxed, confident and without fear. If we can remove one layer of stress for anyone who is preparing for a wedding, then we feel happy that we have done our job properly!
The first of our services is speech writing. We will arrange to meet with you (a relaxed, informal occasion) where we will get to know each other and where we discuss your thoughts and ideas for your speech. After this meeting, we craft a bespoke speech for you that encapsulates all that you want to say in a tone of voice that is right for you and your personality.
Another popular service that we offer is personalised vow writing. If you have decided to write your own wedding vows, or perhaps are celebrating a renewal of your vows, we work with you to help you to express your heartfelt thoughts and feelings in a way that is both clear and well-crafted.
In addition we also offer speech coaching, which is useful either if you have written your own speech, or are using one that we have written with you. We offer you advice and guidance as to how to deliver your speech most effectively, using a range of constructive and handy public speaking techniques.
Finally, we also provide speech consultations. It may be that you have already written your speech, but would like a professional to read and edit it for you, so as to give you that final vote of confidence in what you have written.
Who can you help with speech preparation?
We feel that we can help just about anybody with their speech preparation. We have written wedding speeches for all members of the wedding party – the Best Man, the Father of the Bride, the Groom, the Bride and the Matron of Honour.
We have also worked with people on their speeches for significant birthdays and milestones, and for major public events.
Our aim is always to help people to feel confident and relaxed when speaking in public, which is not always easy on an important occasion, and so we believe that the services we offer are useful for just about everybody.
How did your interest in speech writing and coaching begin?
I work as a freelance writer in a number of areas, particularly travel and business writing, but I also have a background in the theatre and in education, and so speech writing means that all of these skills come into play.
As a freelance writer, I found that I was receiving more and more enquiries from people who felt they needed help with writing their wedding speeches, and so I decided to find a way that I could help such people and satisfy what is obviously a growing public demand. There is clearly a need out there, largely because public speaking seems now to be a much neglected facet of modern life and, as our world becomes more and more interconnected online, people are required to address others face-to-face less frequently. Therefore, fewer and fewer of us have experience of writing and delivering speeches for a public forum.
My training as an actor has also meant that I have practical skills in terms of vocal delivery, posture, timing, etc., while my work in education means that I am experienced at coaching and coaxing, and helping people to maximise their potential.
All of these things dovetail rather neatly into the process of speech writing and coaching.
My favourite speech to write is….
My favourite type of speech is when I am able to help someone who is not used to expressing their feelings and sharing their thoughts (I am sorry to say, but it is usually a man) to be able to unlock what is really in their hearts. Very often, I find that people are hesitant, or lack the confidence, to really open themselves up, especially in front of large groups of family and friends. The way I work with people enables them to relax and do this, however, because our consultations are very informal, and so I am able to coax out of people their innermost feelings about what the occasion really means to them.
My experience as a writer of drama also means that I am able to successfully recreate people’s voices – that is, to write their speeches in a way that sounds natural for them, and captures the way that they speak and interact. It is in this way that I feel that I am most able to help people to make the most of the very important occasion by reducing their stress levels (people can get very worried about their speech) by writing for them in a voice that is appropriate and sounds right. This is when the process is at its most enjoyable.
My most memorable speech was…..
The most memorable speech that I have written is a favourite not necessarily because of the speech itself, but rather because of the circumstances surrounding how it came to be written.
I received a call from a Bride who was very worried about what her new husband’s Best Man (his ‘idiot friend’, as she called him!) was going to say in his speech. He was not especially known for his refinement or verbal abilities and she was concerned that the speech was going to descend into a round of off-colour jokes and lewd stories about pub crawls that would embarrass her and upset her family.
Also, there was an additional problem – her husband was very hesitant about upsetting his oldest friend by suggesting that he needed help with the speech, as the Best Man was clearly very excited about the prospect of speaking at his mate’s wedding, and had talked about nothing else for months.
However, the Bride and Groom hatched a cunning plan – we met up in a pub one night when they were having a drink with the Best Man. I arrived and we pretended that we were old friends. As time went by, the conversation turned to the wedding, and I happened to mention that I specialised in writing wedding speeches. The Best Man, in a quiet moment, then confessed that he had to give a speech at his friends’ wedding but that he was extremely nervous about it, as he didn’t want to let his best mate down. I casually volunteered that I would be more than happy to help and he was actually very relieved. In this way, the problem was solved and it all worked out well for everyone. As it turned out, the speech was a hit and the Best Man had people coming up to him for months afterwards telling that they were amazed at how well he had spoken.
This is always my favourite story because my work managed to make the Bride, the Groom and Best Man happy, and it also meant that there was one less thing for a busy Bride to worry about!
For those of us not in South Australia, can you help us write our speech, and with delivery coaching, over Skype (for example)?
Speech consultations are absolutely possible using Skype, and in fact we have recently been working with a Best Man based in Brisbane using just this method. The process actually works very well, and I am very happy to offer this service to clients throughout Australia (and beyond!). My Skype address is markangus136.
What are the basic elements of a good wedding speech?
The first thing for anyone nervous about a speech to remember is that you are standing up to speak in front of a room full of good will (and often champagne!) What this means is that everyone there wants you to do well and is willing you on. There really is no pressure – no-one is judging you and everyone really wants to hear what you have to say.
Secondly, it is important to remember to take your time. Nerves, adrenaline and the significance of the occasion can sometimes combine to produce a rushed speech, which often means that much of what you want to say gets lost. Speak slowly and don’t be afraid to pause – there really is no rush, and you want your audience to hear every word.
Thirdly, make sure you practise – a lot. In fact, I always advise people to learn their speeches off by heart, as in this way they are more comfortable with the rhythm and nuances, and can make the most of the high points and climaxes. Make sure you are as familiar with your material as you can be – in this, way you don’t ‘surprise’ yourself and you are always in control of what you are saying.
Fourth – one glass of champagne only before the speech! After you have spoken, by all means enjoy, but before the speech you need to keep focussed and have your wits about you!
Is there ‘speech etiquette’?
Looking people in the eye is extremely important. There is nothing worse than listening to a speech where the speaker has their head down in their notes the entire time. Look at the audience, embrace and include them, as a speech at a wedding is all about sharing. Further to this, if you make reference to people (e.g. you are thanking them, or paying them a compliment), address your comments directly to them. Make it personal, make it heartfelt, make it genuine.
A vexed question, particularly in relation to the Best Man’s speech, is that of jokes at the Groom’s expense, particularly concerning past misdemeanours. A couple of golden rules:
– don’t say anything about the Groom and past relationships that he would not feel comfortable talking about in front of his Bride – this is NOT the day for her to be learning for the first time about hitherto unknown dalliances in his past!
– remember that the audience does not consist of just you and your immediate circle of friends, and that there will be a wide cross-section of people at most weddings, from a variety of cultural backgrounds, ages and sensibilities. A good test is to ask yourself whether you would say the same joke, or tell the same story if you were simply talking were one-on-one with any or all of the guests (often people whom you don’t know). If the answer is ‘no’, you probably shouldn’t include it in your speech.
How important are speeches on the wedding day?
Good, sincere, entertaining and well-crafted speeches are integral to any wedding. In purely practical terms, the purpose is two-fold – they allow the members of the wedding party to thank the people who have helped them to prepare for the day, and they also mark the high point of the formalities. The end of the speeches generally signals a change in the tone of the reception and suggests to people that from here on the occasion can become a little more relaxed.
On a more esoteric level, speeches are a natural extension of the public declaration that is at the heart of marriage – a wedding is a statement of two people’s commitment towards each other, and so speeches in a public forum reinforce this idea. You are saying to everyone in public what you have long said to each other in private, and so this is why you want these declarations to be as well-written and memorable as you can.
Who inspires you professionally?
The best public speaker in the world at the moment is undoubtedly President Barack Obama. He is, of course, blessed with a naturally mellifluous speaking voice, but it goes beyond this. If you listen to him speak, he gives his ideas room to ‘breathe’ – he gives important statements and declarations time to sink in before moving on to the next point. He is not afraid of silence during a speech, and this requires no little amount of skill and courage. It is always an absolute pleasure to hear him speak, almost irrespective of what he is actually saying!
What books are on your bedside table at the moment?
I always have a copy of a PG Wodehouse novel on my beside table, as he is unquestionably the greatest comic writer in the English language. In fact, at the moment I am re-reading (for what seems like the hundredth time!) ‘Right Ho, Jeeves’, possibly his finest work, in which you can find an outstandingly memorable example of how NOT to give a public speech. When addressing a school prize-giving ceremony, one of the characters gets hideously drunk beforehand, and the consequence are disastrous. If ever a salutary lesson was needed about the dangers of mixing strong drink and public speaking, this is it!
Images courtesy of Mark Angus