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I spend a lot of time thinking about the art of ceremony. What it takes to create an epic ceremony. The kind of ceremony that people would be so immersed in that it could go on for days and you wouldn’t notice. The kind of ceremony that leaves an impression on people. The kind of ceremony that you would be so able to remark on that it would be literally remark-able, remarkable.

A core part of that amazing ceremony is the ringleader. The celebrant.

The celebrant has all the control, all the power, the microphone. They hold the ceremony by the balls, as the saying goes.

And the main part of that is what they say. That’s why you need an amazing public speaker to preside over those moments.

What makes a great celebrant and public speaker?

A good public speaker has three qualities, and almost none of them involve actually speaking.

  1. A good public speaker needs to know how to read the room, and almost always, adjust their plans (or their client’s plans) to best direct and speak to the reality in front of them.
  2. A great public speaker will effectively communicate to everyone in the room, regardless of language barriers. They can grasp everyone’s attention and take them somewhere.
  3. A really great public speaker isn’t the centre of attention. They are merely the guiding light towards the real action. Hopefully at the end of a wedding ceremony you don’t even remember my name, but you’ll remember how you felt.

How to get better?

If you’re a celebrant or MC reading this, here’s a few tips on how to become a better public speaker.

  1. Look up. Don’t spend the whole event reading from a page, otherwise you might as well just photocopy it and hand out copies so we can all read it in our own time.
  2. Slow down. Most public speakers get nervous and talk quickly, so take a breath and slow down.
  3. Be confident. Everyone there wants you to succeed and win. Our anxieties and fears can take control, but they’re just lies. You’ll rock this.
  4. Take us somewhere. As the celebrant or MC most people aren’t there to listen to you talk. They’re here to celebrate a wedding, so know your role and take us somewhere. Lead us to a place where the couple feels encouraged and loved.
  5. Hold the mic closer. Microphone technique is easy, but often misunderstood. Hold the microphone close enough that if you wanted to lick it, you could.

Feature photo by my friend Tessa.