A recent Seth Godin post about presentations of the corporate/Microsoft Powerpoint kind, spurred me on to thinking about our presentation style as celebrants. My ceremony presentation style has it’s roots in a) what I’m good at and b) what I like. Yours should too, so don’t read this and feel judged or ashamed. If your style is you at your best, and in a style that you would like to receive, then be proud. Hopefully these five points might inspire you to expand your presentation style and take you out of your comfort zone, which can only make you better.

Read Seth Godin’s post first, and then I’ve got a translation for celebrants below.

1. Make it shorter. There’s no extra points for speaking too long. “Too long” is a difficult unit of measurement however, I’ve attended ceremonies that went for 10 minutes that felt like an hour, and I’ve attended ceremonies that went for an hour that felt like 10 minutes. The simple solution is to make your ceremonies as short and as long as they need to be. Make it short enough to hold people’s attention, precise enough to be taken seriously, but long enough to say something that matters.

2. Be really clear about what the ceremony is for. We’ve all had those requests to do a naming and a marriage ceremony together, and my standard response is that I don’t want to mix two important things together. Each one deserves it’s own breathing room. In preparing and delivering your ceremony, be clear and concise about what is happening and why it’s happening. This takes great consultation with your couples because every marriage, and every couple is different.

3. Don’t read word for word off a page. Reading off a page when public speaking comes with a number of issues, firstly, your chin is down and you’re facing the book in your hands, which is probably held low, so your voice changes tone. Then you may be so focused on the words you’re reading that you miss the real elements of the ceremony. And if the best part of the ceremony is the words, print and hand it out to everyone. You see, I believe that your delivery and presence has more value than the individual words. So write your script, and learn it, and even have it there to help you through, but don’t spend the whole ceremony with your head in a book and out of the moment.

4. Don’t sing, don’t dance, don’t tell jokes. If those three skills are foreign to you, this is not a good time to try them out.

5. Be here now. The reason you’re giving a presentation and not sending us a memo is that your personal presence, your energy and your humanity add value. Don’t hide them. Don’t use a prescribed format if that format doesn’t match the best version of you.

For those of you that read Seth’s post first you’ll note I stole the last two points straight off him. I think it’s funny how many similarities there are between corporate presentations and wedding ceremonies, and I think our wedding ceremonies could be better.