At Speechy, we reckon delivering your speech without notes is like ‘doing a wheelie’; pretty cool but, ultimately, unnecessary.
Yes, there’s a joy in witnessing someone’s spontaneous thinking (even if that ‘spontaneity’ has been scripted and memorised), but unless you are very experienced at public speaking, going freestyle isn’t for the fainthearted.
And, even if you are a highly capable speaker in a business context, a wedding audience is unlike any other you’ve presented to, so we would still recommend having notes to hand.
Notes are not a sign of weakness, it’s simply evidence that you’ve prepared. And why, if you’ve spent weeks perfecting your speech, would you just aim to deliver a sloppy version of it?!
As public speaking expert, Alan Berg, says ‘I’m never impressed by a waitress who doesn’t write the order down. Write it down. Get it right.’
HOW TO PRESENT YOUR NOTES
Paper, cue cards, or tech?
It comes down to personal preference but our recommendation, every time, is old-school A4 paper.
Mobiles and iPads are increasingly being used and they will inevitably become more prevalent, but we’re not convinced. Tech may be what you expect a modern speaker to use but it looks overly casual and sends out the wrong message.
How many of us get annoyed when our loved ones get lost looking at a screen? For many of us, feeling frustrated is an inherent reaction when someone looks at their phone in our company.
Devices are excluding and they imply you’re in another world. And, although many people assume a device is easier to handle than pieces of paper, in my experience it’s clumsier. You end up scrolling too far or accidentally flicking on to another page.
I suspect we’ll always prefer cue cards and paper. And paper trumps. Less flicking necessary.
We advise buying good quality paper that’s slightly thicker than your standard office A4. Ideally something between 120-140gsm to help reduce paper-shake.
HOW TO LAY OUT YOUR SPEECH
Bullet points or word for word?
Some people use bullet points so their speech comes across as more natural and they can focus on establishing good eye contact with their audience.
A good idea in principle but test it out.
Are you good enough to deliver all those wonderful anecdotes and insights in an eloquent way whilst also remembering that punchline and where exactly it goes? Do you wander off track and add unnecessary waffle? Crucially, are you delivering the speech in a way that sounds genuinely natural, or is it obvious that you’re struggling to remember your lines?
The danger of using bullet points is, instead of looking like you’re reading your speech, it looks like you’re trying to remember your speech; delivering it like a terrified bunny, eyes wide, devoid of the actual emotion intended.
So, I recommend that you print out your speech word-for-word.
- Lay it out on A4 so that the bottom third of the page has no text. This means your eyeline doesn’t drop too low.
- Ensure the page turn is at an appropriate point i.e. after a story has concluded, where you’d expect laughter or if there’s a natural pause.
- Codify your speech. Use bold or italics to help you remember emphasis. Use ellipses (the 3 dots) to pinpoint where you should pause. Add regular reminders (even just a coloured asterisk) throughout the speech to ensure you are still smiling (honestly, people often need reminding).
- Use a symbol. Ampersands (&) work well as a reminder to add an ‘ad lib’ – i.e. a line that you’ve scripted but memorised so you deliver it ‘off script’. This is a great technique that ensures you seem spontaneously witty and more relaxed than you may feel.
- Use page numbers. In case you drop the speech.
ANY CLEVER CUE CARD TIPS?
Sure. The best trick is to make your wedding speech cue cards seem part of the speech. Could your notes be the ‘prosecution’s evidence’, or could they be the groom’s job application to become the new Bond? It’s easy to ‘legitimise’ reading your notes as long as you introduce them right.