“Before I became a professional speechwriter, I remember wedding speeches being either really good or really bad. You were never in the thick of it. The guy would absolutely bring the house down or you would see people dying in their chairs.
he first time I wrote a best man speech was for my little brother’s wedding in August 2012. My middle brother was the best man and because I used to write a lot of poetry and short stories, he asked me for help.
We started talking about it, got some stories from his buddies and the more I looked at it the more I thought it could work as a poem. We sat down that night and a few hours later we had a draft. I started coaching him on his delivery. My brother was very nervous, my mother was scared and we didn’t tell anyone what we were doing.
Four weeks later he began the poem at the wedding and for the first few seconds people were laughing, clapping and banging their bottles on the tables. In the end, 250 people stood up. There was a standing ovation for two minutes.
My brother mentioned that I helped him before he recited the poem and about an hour later a guy came up to me at the bar and said, ‘Did you write that honestly?’ He told me his brother was getting married in two weeks and asked if I could do something similar for him.
From then on, people would call me and ask for help. They’d say, ‘I heard you did a great job there for so-and-so. My sister is getting married and her husband isn’t sure what to say.
It all started organically at first, but I soon decided to turn it into a business. A good buddy of mine helped me build a website and then I took a Start Your Own Business course. From then on I started attending wedding fairs – I booked 22 people at my first fair.
What I’ve noticed at trade shows is that a lot of women put so much effort into the doilies, the vests, the socks, the car, the framing for the photos… but the speech is the only thing they worry about. The whole wedding could be crumbling around her because one guy doesn’t know when to shut up.
The very first lady who booked me worked as a statistician. She said, “Cormac, this is the second part of the wedding, which I have no control over.” She had it all broken down into percentages. And I gave her 100% control over her big day.
Today my clients include pro rugby players, TV pundits and MMA fighters – it never ceases to amaze me the types of people who need help with public speaking.
When I’m helping someone prepare a speech, my work includes information gathering, writing, and coaching. I tend to write in the mornings when I’m fresh and more productive. I do most of my intelligence gathering and coaching in the evenings, unless I’m working with clients in a different time zone.
It takes me about an hour or two with each guy to get the stories from them. If I’m going to write something that really sounds like it’s coming from this person, then I really need to know as much as I can about them. I tell them it’s like a confessional – ‘You tell me everything and nothing gets out of here.’
I have a number of questions that I ask, but I also just let people talk. It’s interesting that women usually associate an emotion with almost every memory, and they are able to pinpoint dates and times.
But men don’t tend to remember things the way women do. Emotional reminders for men are like boxes of receipts that you may need one day.
So I take them back to the day they were born and their first memory, the first thing they can remember, be it happy or sad. And when you bring them back that far, it starts blowing dust off the boxes along the way. And then, on the way back, they come across other memories. It’s amazing how things come back to them in the days after we first met.
Of course, not everything is easy. There is trauma, tragedy, separation. Especially when it comes to tragedy, many people don’t know how to write about it without falling into despair. It’s important to convey their sense of loss and resonate with the people who are there, but you must be able to turn it back into hope.
All in all, a speech lasts between 8-10 hours, including all the coaching. Prices start at €300 for basic packages and €500 plus for bespoke options. I have various services for people with speech disabilities and people who are really scared of standing up in front of a crowd. The techniques are made habitual by clients who use them later in their professional lives, where they often balked at getting promoted or advancing in their careers because there was an element of public speaking.
There have been a few notable bad groomsman speeches over the years that have really helped my business. Justin Johannsen’s speech at the wedding of Pippa Middleton and James Matthews is an example. He reportedly stood up and gave a speech to kings that was so vulgar that it made international headlines. Apparently, he compared the bride to James’ spaniel – “soft-mouthed, comes on command, big butt.” When this hit the headlines, I had 32 new clients seeking help.
I think one of the worst mistakes people make is not knowing when to shut up. I heard about a speech from the father of the bride that lasted 90 minutes. Best man speeches are not usually long, but they are usually bad and vulgar. “What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas” should be taught to boys from an early age. People really don’t want to hear it.
The advice I give to men who are writing speeches is that if you talk about that boy as a kid and the stupid things he did, you’ll get overwhelmed. Delve into your friend’s past and dig up the little gold nuggets. Maybe he fled the house naked when he was two or three years old and raced through the housing estate. What you’re looking for are things that are universal and cute.
Your speech doesn’t have to be funny, it just has to be honest. Avoid cliche one-liners — everyone has heard them before, and they’re clichés for a reason. Also, there’s nothing worse than when someone who isn’t naturally funny tries to be funny. This is as unfunny as it gets.
A truthful speech will resonate far more than the lame jokes we’ve all heard. People are really looking for the truth, especially the people who don’t know the bridegroom. Also, you need to offer him some achievements – you can’t just kick him to death in front of everyone.
After all, preparation is so important. There are very few people who can go wild. Those who can are naturally funny and are usually professional entertainers.
So don’t even think about writing the speech an hour before or in the toilet during the day. If you don’t prepare well, prepare to fail. And once it’s out of your mouth, you can never put it back in.’
As Katie Byrne was told
https://www.independent.ie/life/wedding-speech-writer-one-of-the-worst-mistakes-people-make-is-not-knowing-when-to-shut-up-41963627.html Wedding speechwriter: “One of the worst mistakes people make is not knowing when to shut up”