Can You Speak At My Wedding?

Be honest. Your friend asks you to speak at their wedding. How do you react? Would you feel excited? Scared? Panicked? Would you try and find a way out of it?

  • “I would have loved to, but I won’t be in town that day.”
  • “But I haven’t even told you the date yet…”

That question FREAKED ME OUT back in the day. 

Pre-Ultraspeaking, I gave one wedding speech (for my older sister) with a full 2-page script printed out IN MY SHAKY, SWEATY HANDS. A terrifying moment, if I’m honest.

Since then, I’ve given 2 more wedding speeches without a script or word-for-word memorization. Not only were they more impactful for the audience, but they were also 1000x more enjoyable for me. More enjoyable for all three phases: the preparation, the speaking, and the post-speech glow.

Now, I’ve suffered through my fair share of terrible wedding speeches. Too long, too boring, too rehearsed, too read. But I’ve also seen a handful of fantastic ones. The ones that feel like they are delivered in the moment. Authentic, spontaneous, loving, and oftentimes funny. 

I used to wonder how they did it, what magical gene they possessed that I didn’t.

How did they make it look so effortless?!

Well, everything has changed now. I now know that that kind of speaking is within everyone’s grasp. 

I know because over the past 4 years, Michael and I have coached all sorts of people to give these authentic, funny, no-script speeches. The kind of speech that feels like you. The kind of speech people hear and think: “I wish I could do that.”

Well, I’m here to say that you can. Everyone can. All you need are 3 ingredients:

1. Your “one thing”

Every great speech has a central message. That’s your “one thing.” It’s one idea, usually one sentence, that captures the essence of what you truly want to say. 

For example, In my last two wedding speeches, here were my “one things”:

  • Amaury doesn’t see life the way you and I do, which makes life by his side a constant adventure.
  • Thomas taught me to dream the impossible, and then believe in it.

2. Your Pillars

As you think about what you want to say, you start remembering anecdotes, stories, and examples. These are small moments in time that beautifully illustrate your key message. 

For example,

  • The time I answered Amaury’s phone call at 8 on a weekday and ended up 100km away, having dinner in a one-fo-a-kind restaurant, then watching the stars lying on ancient ruins.
  • The time Thomas and I imagined organizing a recurring 200+ go-karting competition for our college, or a go-Kart race in the middle of a city… and then we did it. 

Your pillars and your “one thing” combine to create a bow & arrow. It’s one of the most powerful tools in all of speaking. 

3. Your Practice

Here’s where it all comes together in a way that feels natural and non-rehearsed. 

Set a timer for 5 minutes and try to deliver your speech without any notes. You may stumble, blank, and even forget all your stories. It doesn’t matter. Just keep going. Find a way to make it to the end. 

Once you finish, take a moment to reflect on:
1. what you liked, and
2. what was missing

Then do it again. This time it should feel a bit better. There will still be gaps in your memory, but certain parts will begin to stick more. Pay attention to what sticks, and what doesn’t.

Then, over the next few days, do a rep in the morning and a rep in the evening. No script. No notes. The only rule is to practice as if it were the real thing every time (e.g. don’t stop whenever you mess up)

During this process, you’ll notice that your “one thing” may slightly change, or that your pillars may get rearranged. That’s normal. As you practice in this way, your content will naturally self-organize into it’s optimal form.

With every rep, you’ll find yourself using different words to tell the same speech. This keeps your delivery fresh and spontaneous. By the end of the week, you will feel as if you could tell the stories in your sleep. That’s the point.

Now, you’re ready. Get a good night’s sleep, get into an awesome state on the big day, and trust that in the moment you’ll know exactly what to do. 

Recap

  1. One thing: a single sentence of what you want people to remember 
  2. Pillars: key bookmarks of stories to trigger your brain (3 to 5 key words)
  3. Practice: the kind that gives you confidence but doesn’t imply memorizing word for word.

This is what it feels like to be a natural. 

The people who are the best at this don’t even realize they’re doing it. They just find themselves thinking of stories while walking the dog. They go through an imaginary speech in the shower and think: yeah, that was pretty good. 

They do all this in their head, but it doesn’t feel like work. It doesn’t feel like effort. So they don’t even realize they’re doing it.

If you’re like most people, you’re probably preparing the wrong way. You’re working too hard. You’re doing too much. And you’re likely not enjoying the process. If speaking is an important part of your life, this is not sustainable. 

That’s why I’m so passionate about sharing this approach. It really works. It feels great. And it’s a huge time-saver. 

Fair warning: once you try it, you’ll never want to go back.

February 11, 2022

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