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Speaking of Weddings... 'I do's', Toasts and Presence

Being a presentations skills’ coach has many rewards. I love it when my clients make small adjustments that result in great improvements in their presentations. Being a coach also has a down side. Everywhere I go I find myself silently (and not so silently) critiquing someone’s presentation. This happens during casual conversations with neighbors, watching political pundits on T.V., and most recently at a wedding. Yes, wedding. I’m hopeless.

Recently, I was hired to help a client prepare for her Maid of Honor speech. That’s what got me thinking about weddings and what a great opportunity the wedding party has to start thinking about presence (as opposed to presents).

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been invited to a lovely wedding, been seated towards the back of the room and wanted to stand up and yell, “Speak up. We can’t hear you!”. Now I know weddings are intimate affairs but if the bride and groom invited us to witness their vows, they should make sure we can hear them. I have a couple tips for the lucky couple.

Let’s start with the “I do’s” and voice projection. You would be surprised how easy it is to project your voice when you are breathing correctly. The best thing a bride or groom could do is take a deep breath before they “Repeat after me….”. A deep breath will also reduce the tension of the moment. I suggest they speak slowly and speak up.

Now let’s talk about those toasts at the reception. If you’re invited to give a speech at a wedding, take the responsibility as seriously as my client did. Unfortunately, most of the speeches I’ve witnessed are either read to us directly from words jotted on a napkin, or they go on and on and on.

As with any presentation regardless of the venue, I advised my client to first analyze the audience. I remember only too well the off-color joke that was told at my wedding; my grandmother nearly fainted. Next, I suggested she consider thoughtfully the key points she wanted to emphasize about the bride’s life or her relationship to the groom. The audience doesn’t need an entire biography.

We limited the talking points to three. My Maid of Honor client carefully crafted the stories for each of those points, added some humor and made them short and sweet. She promised to rehearse out loud before the grand event.

Lastly, we worked out a catchy opening and a compelling close for her speech. We then focused on how she would project her voice, make eye contact and have a confident presence. The invitees applauded wildly afterwards and, more importantly, the bride was thrilled.

Basic presentation skills training permeates all aspects of life. When you are aware of how to prepare for any type of presentation, how to project your voice, how to make strong eye contact and look confident, you’ll be ready to wow anyone you are standing in front of. When you’re ready to say, “I do” to coaching, call Red Cup Presentations for support. And may you live happily ever after.


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