Ever witnessed a bad wedding speech? A toast to the bride that kind of flopped? A toast to the groom that quickly descended into jokes that should have stayed with “the boys”? A welcome to the family speech that just…wouldn’t…end?
Any DJ that has spent any time at all working with weddings has witnessed a few of the above (if not all of them). For many people speaking at weddings, this is the first time they’ve had to write a speech or toast like this. Remember that surveys commonly show fear of public speaking, also known as “glossophobia,” sitting at the top of list of worst fears. It’s no wonder that weddings play host to so many bad speeches, but fear not (see what I did there?!), you can play a massive role in changing that.
Before I present you what I am about to share, realize that you’re not going to turn everyone into a public speaking rockstar. But with a few proactive steps, you will greatly increase the odds of quality speeches and toasts being delivered at the weddings you’re hired to work with. This will, in turn, help you to create more successful events which will translate into more success for your DJ business.
First of all, you’ll need contact information for all of the people speaking at the wedding. In my part of Canada, the people that are usually speaking consist of wedding party members and the parents of the bride and groom. Prior to the first planning meeting (5 – 6 months prior to wedding – blog post about planning meetings coming soon), my couples are instructed to login to my planning website (powered by DJ Event Planner) and fill in three contact forms. Those contact forms are “Family Names & Contact Info,” “Wedding Party Names & Contact Info” and “Wedding Vendor Names & Contact Info.”
During the first planning meeting, a lot of discussion takes place around who will be presenting the toasts and welcomes. I do my best to learn about why they’ve chosen these people and what type of speakers they might be. If required, I will offer other suggestions about who they might choose (a favourite aunt or uncle, siblings not included in the wedding party, all of the bridesmaids together, etc.).
Following that first planning meeting, I await for the bride and groom to confirm with each person speaking that they are, in fact, planning to speak at the wedding. Only after that confirmation do I proceed with the next step.
Around 3-1/2 months prior to the wedding, I email all of the people that are confirmed to be speaking. They each get an email that contains an introduction from me with a couple of sentences explaining why I am getting in touch with them. Also included in that email are links to a couple of documents to help with the composition and presentation of their speech.
The first document contains of series of “speaking at weddings” tips and pointers that I’ve assembled over the years. It discusses how long their speech should be, tips on font style and print size, basic microphone techniques, etc. I also outline where they will be standing for their speech, provide them with some YouTube links to videos about speaking at weddings and I suggest that they email their speech to me for backup purposes.
The second document is a PDF version of the book “Wedding Toasts Made Easy”. This book contains a wealth of knowledge for assembling a wedding toast and the author, Tom Haibeck, makes a limited number of electronic redistribution licenses available to mobile DJs. This arrangement with Tom has been of great value to my company and any DJ that is interested in providing this to the people speaking at their weddings should get in touch with Tom here.
Lastly, I also suggest some basic talking points and offer to proofread the speech for the person being emailed. I have had a surprisingly large number of people take me up on proofreading (each and every speech for some weddings!) which has provided me greater insight into the order the speeches should scheduled at the wedding (based on humour, overall quality, energy, etc). In conversation with my brides and grooms at our final planning meeting (1 – 2 months prior to the wedding), I’ll often ask them who the “best” speaker might be. It is always my goal to have the speeches being presented build in energy and quality, as opposed to the other way around. Having the speeches to read ahead of time takes most of the guesswork away.
On the wedding day itself, I make a point of going around during dinner to review microphone technique with each person scheduled to speak as well as the order and location of speeches being delivered (generally speaking, speeches take place after dinner in Canada).
With all of that, the quality of speeches I experience at nearly every wedding I work with has gone way up. Many times, the people I am emailing for this purpose are thrilled that someone with experience (me) is available to help them. They feel more confident, are less intimidated by the task ahead of them and of course, I’ve started developing rapport with them well ahead of the wedding which might have numerous side benefits for my work in the future.
With the close of 2016 just around the corner, this is a great time to begin putting new systems in place for your 2017 wedding work. Create the email content you’ll use and what types of speaking tips you want to provide to fit the weddings in your region.
If you’d like to see exactly what my emails for this look like and what my “Speaking at Weddings” tip sheet looks like, check out my companion post to this one, My Solutions To No More Bad Wedding Toasts.
Thank you for reading.
Thanks for reading!
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