If you’re a VIP guest at a wedding, chances are you’ll have to make a speech at some point during one of the various events. Lucky you, right? Marisa Polansky and Kristine Keller are all too familiar with the stress and anxiety that can come with this honor so they founded Speech Tank, a speech-writing service for any occasion. They believe anyone is capable of giving a great speech—some people just need a little help finding the magic words.
“I’ve waited until the very last minute to write my wedding speech. Where do I even start!?”
Take out your pen, open your laptop, or hire a transcriber. It doesn’t matter how you get started, just that you get started. Whether you like it or not, the Big Day is coming, and when they hand you the mic, you’ll want to be sure to drop it.
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WELCOME TO THE NO JUDGMENT ZONE.
What do you write? Anything. Reflect on the happy couple and jot down whatever comes to mind—funny one-liners, ancient memories, thoughts on love. There are no right answers here. If you’re still coming up blank, try this: Divide your paper into six boxes—two rows and three columns. One column is for “Stories” and the other is for “Qualities.” The row headers should be “Him,” “Her,” and “Them.” Then, fill ‘em in. Maybe she’s kind, he’s loyal, and they’re both brave. Divvy up the stories too. Try and come up with at least one word for each box. If one box is outgrowing the rest, no worries. Everybody picks favorites and everyone knows it. Just, like, hide the paper when you’re done.
WHAT DOES THAT LOOK LIKE TO YOU?
Did a pattern surface while brainstorming? Did a theme emerge? Did a story arc form? No? That’s cool. Close your computer or let your transcriber clock out. You need a little “you” time. Even if you have to give your speech tomorrow (come on!), give yourself a moment to zone out. Archimedes’ “eureka” moment famously occurred in the bathtub, and maybe yours will appear in the shower. The best ideas come when you stop fixating on why they’re not coming.
I KNOW MY WRITES!
Think of writing a speech like you’re building a case. The groom never misses a hometown team game even though they haven’t won since ’92? Your theme is his commitment to the things he loves. So, that’s your argument, and now you’ve got to prove it. Provide evidence in the form of specific stories. Personalization is what will make this not just a good speech, but your speech.
CUT IT OUT.
Never forget that you are what’s standing between the audience and the open bar. Keep it short. Shorter than you think. Say it out loud. For a friend. An honest friend! Ask him or her to notice where they get bored. Cut that part out. Yes, that whole part! And, remember, the sooner you get off stage, the sooner those guests will be able to toast to your killer speech.