Toastmasters - A guest post

So excited to be inviting someone to guest post on the blog today. Shane is on the IT team at the company Nicole and I both worked at for quite some time (when Nicole isn't on Mat leave, she's technically still there), and he's hilarious and incredibly intelligent. In fact, don't tell my current IT department (or his boss), but I still hit Shane up regularly with computer problems. He also has a dog named MJ that's blind and adorable.

Shane and MJ

Shane has to give a speech at his brothers wedding and he's been doing research on how to give successful speeches. He's here today to share some of these insights with you, as well as to make you laugh and probably reminisce back to other wedding speeches you've heard and loved.

Think you don't ever have to make speeches? Think again. This is great for if you have to speak at a wedding or some other large event, maybe your parents 50th wedding anniversary or a friend's graduation party. But even if you're not making real-full-blown speeches, these tips can help your writing, they can help you lead meetings, they can help you somewhere in your life. So don't miss it! Shanes speech for Toastmasters follows in all its glory. Also - look up Toastmasters

  • We are gathered here today…

These words have an effect and they put you in a certain state of mind. They are words you might typically hear at a wedding – which, coincidentally, is the reason for this speech. No, I’m not getting married but my brother is, and he and his fiancée asked me to officiate their wedding.

Which scares the shit out of me.

An officiant needs to give a speech and be confident and clear and concise. They can’t stand in front of everyone and say ah’s or um’s.

I’ve discussed some details with them about it. They don’t want the cut and dry speech you hear in movies or that a pastor who knows nothing about you might say. They want something moving and personal.

Have I told you I am scared shitless?

I love my family, I love my brother and I think his fiancée is going to make a great addition to the family (hell, she’s already family). So I have no shortage of experience to pull from or love to pour into the speech.

I’ve even dabbled in writing. I’ve written several short stories, poems and even attempted a couple of books.

But a speech, I feel, is a different beast. In a few short minute’s you have to remember your talking points and pull from memory or use cue cards, and I don’t want to use cue cards.

This is an important day and the last thing I want is to be talking into cue cards. I want to be able to look the couple in their eyes as I wed the two of them. I want to look at the audience and laugh with them as I tell a funny story (probably trying to embarrass my brother, how many chances do you get to do that in front of an audience?!?).

So, I have started looking into speech writing. And here are some pointers I’ve found on writing a speech:

  • Have an idea of what you’re going to talk about. (Marriage. Nailed it)
  • Use short sentences. They’re easier to commit to memory.
  • Read your speech aloud to make sure it sounds natural.
  • Use concrete examples. (Like - cement is made of limestone.)
  • Simplify and rewrite.
  • It’s okay to use other speeches as inspiration for yours, do research and see what others have written.

I also figured it’d be a good idea to pull inspiration and help from people who do speeches on the big stage – presidents.

  • Use metaphors. I know I said to use concrete examples but it looks like metaphors, analogies, similes, whatever you’re inclined to use as a central point is important to have. But put it towards the end of the speech.
  • Don’t be afraid to be afraid. Speeches are hard and talking in front of people is hard too, but own it and be okay with being uncomfortable. (Just remember to wear deodorant)
  • Repeat yourself or a theme.
  • Keep it short
  • Check out a public speaking course at a local college or join a Toastmasters chapter

I don’t know yet what my speech will contain or how it will go over. I do know that I intend to work hard on it and to write and rewrite and to modify it until it’s as good as I can personally make it, and then to practice until it’s committed to memory and I wake up quoting lines from this speech years later. The only thing I can say for sure is that I intend to kill it.

And I’ll probably start with “We are gathered here today”

So A. is Shane going to kill it? I have total faith that he will. and B. Did you enjoy this guest post? I was amazed at how little tweaking his speech for Toastmasters needed to become a blog post and I think that's probably a good thing. Shane likes to write so if you enjoyed this, let us know so we can keep having him back! 

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