Thursday, October 27, 2011

WW Part VI: Practice Makes Near Perfect and Speech Therapy

“Mine’s all,” brags the hubs as I sit hunched over near the computer screen, surprised at my hesitation in word flow as I attempted to throw together my sisterly speech for the rehearsal dinner. “Pffftt – mine is going to kick your little speech’s butt,” I said in a doubtful tone, trying to make it a competition for a little inspiration. But yah, that didn’t help so much either.

I’ve always been envious of those that can create beautiful phrases in their head and then repeat them in a front of a crowd, especially when there is intense emotion involved such as marrying off your adorable little brother and welcoming a fantastical sister. My attachment to words, attention to detail and the will to get it just right for the receiver won’t let my soul venture toward that direction, so jotting it down it is. Even for my role as a facilitator in my daily life, I prepare each agenda with paragraphs of what I may say, rehearse in front of a mirror and hope for the best when the meeting actually arrives. And being a journalism major, pressure and deadlines always help too, so 10 minutes before we had to wake the little dude for our flight to the wedding, the words came in a flurry, and a page and a half of content I was mostly satisfied with was prepared for the bride and groom.

If you find yourself in this dilemma in the future, here are a few tips that may help:

1. Create drafts. There’s nothing wrong with revisions as long as you’re not obsessing, and at a wedding, there’s no shame in toting that piece of paper up there with you so you can be polished and meaningful.
2. Choose a theme our outline. If you narrow your focus instead of trying to cram 25 years together in one speech, it helps keep you on task. For example, mine was on gifts, which could then translate into gift opening and the gifts the two of them are in life and why.
3. Speak from the heart. Funny is fabulous, but the most memorable also includes love and cherished memories.
4. Stay focused on the couple. So many times speech givers are using the word “me” or “I” and making it all about them as they tie to the bride and groom. It’s their day…make that obvious of why that’s so special.
5. Keep it short and sweet: ok, I’m always totally rogue this, but if you can keep it to two minutes or less, that’s fantastic. After all, that is generous given our adult attention spans of today, particularly those with iPhones.
6. Don’t shy from a bit of emotion. You’ll be shocked when you actually get up there in front of family and friends how different it is than public speaking to colleagues or clients. Prepare for choking up and maybe even a bit of tearing and chalk it up to sentiment. People will get it and be moved.
7. Drink adult beverages, but not too many. If it helps calm your nerves, take a swig of the red. But good Gah, don’t get up there and slur your words and sway around as if the reception has already taken place…your credibility and reputation is announced in that moment of poise. Unless that’s something you’re comfortable with, than all the power to ya…acceptance is a beautiful thing.
8. Speak clearly, slowly and loudly. You’ve got killer things to say…make sure they’re heard!
9. Hug and toast at the end. It gets the room involved and ties a bow on your speech, making it clear when to initiate clapping.
10. Send a copy to the bride and groom. If it’s not caught on tape, it’s a great sentiment they cherish from their big day.

And if this isn’t enough for you and you’re still on edge: call me up. If you give me enough detail, I’ll write it for you. I love it, it’s a blast and it helps you out, so I’m in and the bride and groom never have to know. Don’t think it hasn’t been done before…

Speaking of speeches, the Maid of Honor and Best Man did incredible jobs implementing the tactics above, and each even brought me to tears:

The rehearsal was a blast from start to finish, from the ring bearer leaping off the stage time and time again, in total non-compliance with instructions, to the viewing of the get-away car filled with a trunk of beer, to the girls preparing their trek down what felt like a mile-long gravel path, to a I-don’t-know-where-to-park-but-when-we-find-the-restaurant-it-will-be-amazing situation, to tummy-happy delicious food, from embracing family we don't see nearly often enough, to meeting a wonderful family soon to blend with ours, laughing it up with the bride and groom’s super sweet friends and experiencing all the joy and love wrapped up in the happy couple.

Practice made for near perfect…and what a perfect day it turned out to be.

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