When you mention my name to another celebrant, apparently the most common thing people talk about is how I’m unscripted. Some people call it ad lib. I would never describe my method of creating and delivering a ceremony as ad lib or unscripted.

It’s a series of riffs.

A series of bits.

A series of little bites of ceremony I’ve been crafting for years and I have them all in my head well-rehearsed and well-categorised, and when I’m planning a ceremony I assemble the bits – the riffs – together to bring a ceremony that is personal, personable, and epic for this couple.

Obviously there are new elements to each wedding. Bits about how they met or what their story is obviously is freshly worked on, memorised, and inserted amongst the rest of the bits.

One of my favourite authors and speakers, Seth Godin, was interviewed today and he spoke about this exact type of presentation:

I’m constantly trying out new pieces riffs for my talks by speaking to people like you.

For example, I just taught someone in my office how to juggle today. I’ve tried that riff on hundreds of people face to face. I’m not directly practicing a talk. I’m not saying, “Here, let me practice my Keynote.”

Instead, I’m taking time to teach people what I’m seeing about the world.

When I do that with someone face to face, over and over again, I can create a feedback loop that helps me understand what it does to someone’s insides when I teach them something. And that’s what helps me figure out if it should go into a talk.

I’m constantly asking myself, Why did that touch people? Then I put a bunch of these stories and riffs together and that’s my talk.

So imagine you get all of the ceremonies you’ve ever made, and broke out each little chunk of ceremony – in a regular 25 minutes ceremony there might be 10 or more riffs, or bits. Extract them, and all of them, and put them on cards. You memorise each bit, give each bit a title, and then your ceremony becomes a list of titles – instead of a ten page script.

My brain works like this, and appreciates it, and maybe yours would too?

Seth’s way of approaching the world appeals to my sensibilities. In the interview he mentions a technique – not dissimilar to my own method – that he uses if there’s no projector/screen.

Seth goes on to say,

What will happen when I’m giving a talk, is I need to be able to communicate to people in a way that makes me fully present.

That’s the clinger. That’s why I am so committed to this method, the riff method: to be present in the ceremony. Instead of having my head in a book (or a Kindle) I’m so present with my couple and their guests.

You should try it some time.