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SECRETS OF A GOOD SPEECH...

MATERIAL

Almost everyone I write for is a complete stranger at first, so I need to spend quite a lot of time finding out about them and the other important people involved. Only then can I write a speech that will be right for that particular individual. Everyone has some good stories to tell but they have to be crafted into a good narrative.

BALANCE

In nearly all speeches it is important to achieve the right balance between humour and sincerity. A best man’s speech will typically have a higher proportion of humour than the other wedding speeches. Even a serious speech on a rather dry topic will benefit from a bit of humour here and there. It helps to retain the attention of the audience.

LENGTH

It depends so much on the quality of the speech. It is better to leave the audience wanting more than to go on for too long. Some people don’t want to speak for more than 2 or 3 minutes but that is definitely on the short side if the speech is good. A wedding speech of more than 10 minutes must be very good or the guests will become bored and restless. You can say quite a lot in 10 minutes.

STRUCTURE

Every speech needs a beginning, a middle and an end. We need to consider not only what to say but also the order in which to say it. Structure is absolutely VITAL – it is perhaps the main area in which I can help just about everyone.

DELIVERY

A poor delivery won’t ruin a good speech but a good delivery will certainly make a good speech even better. Speak clearly and slowly – perhaps a bit slower than might feel normal. Wait until audience laughter has subsided or they will miss the next part of your speech. Signal a change in section or mood through pauses. Use your voice to emphasise the key words or sentences. When I draft a speech I indicate pauses and words that need to be emphasised.

AUDIBLE

It doesn't matter how good your speech is or how good your delivery is if no-one can hear you, so you must wait until the general chatter has subsided before you start. Most people need a microphone and I would strongly advise using one if you are addressing more than 20 or 30 people. I like to start with a good opening line to get the audience's attention but it will be wasted if they can't hear it!

ALCOHOL

I know a lot of people think a couple of drinks before the speech will settle the nerves, but this can lead to disaster. A couple can easily lead to five or six and an audience can tell immediately if a speaker has had too much to drink. Much better to stick to water and then drink as much as you like after the speech!

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