Think of public speaking like any other discipline – when broken down it is merely a set of skills. Just like a sport, with tutorage, those skills can be developed, and with practice and dedication, anyone, and I mean absolutely anyone can become a confident public speaker.
Within SpeechMate, I talk you through these skills one by one, as part of a bonus online course, so you are properly and professionally prepared to deliver a best man speech with humour, calm and confidence. In this article I share a handful of the tips featured in the course to get you started.
If you want to engage the audience you’re going to need to think about things like body language, your stance, your intonation, when to pause, when to sound sincere and so on. This is a lot to think about all at once and you can’t do that if you’re reading in to a piece of paper. To deliver a well delivered best man speech you need to develop your muscle memory. This means that you could be woken in the middle of the night, given a line from your speech and you could tell what’s coming next. We talk more about how you do this in more depth within the video series.
2. Imagine you’re wearing a crown (no, really)
This might sound dumb but is a good technique for ensuring you keep your head held high and your stance is nice straight. If you hold this position, it’ll help you project your voice better because of the way sound is generated from your body – from the diaphragm and up through the larynx.
3. Pace your best man speech at 150 words a minute
When we speak in public for the first time, a lot of the time we’ll talk too quickly. This is often because we want to get it over with quickly! The problem with speaking fast as your default speed is that it’s distracting – you’re speaking AT the audience not connecting with them. It’s like one of those commercials where they read out the terms of conditions. The audience won’t be able to take in what you’re saying, process the information and react to it – which is what’ll you want when it comes to gags – if they’re struggling to keep up. We talk about how you do this within the Delivery section of SpeechMate.
4. Use gesturing to accentuate your best man speech
Gesturing is using your body language to compliment your words and accentuate your message. It’s one of the most powerful non-verbal behaviours you can add to your speech and is used to great effect by some of the greatest speakers on the planet, often without you even noticing. But a lot of the time they are planned and yours can be too. There are three different types of gestures that we talk about in the course, the most powerful of which is emphatic. These are used to show an emotional state and can really you build a connection with the audience. We talk through where and how to use these within your speech to enhance your delivery.
5. Use vocal variety to convey emotion
Just like you can use your body language to exaggerate certain elements of a story, vocal variety can be used to perform a similar purpose. It helps convey emotion and signal to the audience how they should be feeling. There are a number of ways to do this but one example is if you want your audience to get serious, then you slow down just before that particular message as a cue for them to listen.
6. Pause at the very start of your speech
Research shows that you will never have more attention from an audience than at the beginning of your speech. Pausing before you choose to speak not only demonstrates confidence, it will focus the audience’s attention even further on what you are about to say. There are two other places that I recommend you pause in your speech which we cover in the video series.
7. Record yourself giving the best man speech
There’s nothing like seeing yourself on film to understand what your little quirks are, but if you can’t see yourself you won’t be aware of them. I’ll be honest with you, it’s uncomfortable seeing yourself on film delivering a speech as its not something we’re used to seeing but it really does help. This technique is used in the corporate world to help business leaders become more polished in giving presentations.
8. Do a dress rehearsal
Ask two or three people who you feel comfortable with to be your live audience and deliver your speech to them as if it were the day itself. Ask them not to interrupt you as this will put you off. Instead ask them to take notes and feedback at the end. There’s a good chance this may feel uncomfortable but I promise you, it will help you for the day itself.
9. Visualise yourself giving a legendary best man speech
Some people find this harder than others, but visualisation is a technique used by sports men and women and successful business professionals to help them succeed as it’s been found in studies to provide an edge over opponents. Imagine yourself delivering your best man speech. Hear the roars of laughter and see the tears roll when you talk from the heart. Like a number of these techniques it may feel odd but it works!