Bringing humour into your wedding business

Show notes:

Have you ever considered bringing humour into your wedding business? Today I’m chatting with Emmy Award winning comedian turned wedding speech writer Beth Sherman. She shares her personal story of getting into comedy, her tips on how as pros and venues we can improve our guests experiences of giving a speech and her insight into how we can all bring more personality and humour into our businesses.

Click to find out more about Beth

Connect with Beth on Linkedin

Find out more about Authentically Funny Speeches.

Time Stamps:

Comedy Writing and Stand-Up (00:00:00) Beth shares her background in comedy writing and stand-up, influenced by her family and love for comedy.

Transition to Working in Entertainment (00:02:43) Beth discusses her transition into working in writers’ rooms for comedy variety shows and developing the skill to be funny in someone else’s voice.

Starting the Wedding Speech Business (00:08:58) Beth shares how she started her business, initially taking on work through Upwork and finding her passion for helping people with speeches.

Overcoming Challenges and Finding Support (00:11:16) Beth discusses her pragmatic parents and the importance of hard work and determination in pursuing her career in comedy writing.

Working in the Wedding Industry (00:16:35) Beth talks about the meaningful experiences and emotional support involved in working with clients for wedding speeches.

Growth Strategies for Wedding Speech Business (00:17:05) Beth explains the evolution of her business, from using Google ads to focusing on content marketing through YouTube for lead generation.

The Dads are the Higher Ticket Clients (00:21:36) Beth discusses how the fathers of the bride tend to be her higher ticket clients due to their age and financial capacity.

The Pressure of Wedding Speeches (00:23:32) Becca and Beth talk about the pressure on non-professional speakers at weddings, and Beth shares her opinions on delivering successful wedding speeches.

Setting Speakers Up for Success (00:24:20) Beth explains how wedding professionals can set up speakers for success, including providing clear instructions and positioning the speaker for better visibility.

The Importance of Clear Audio (00:31:11) Beth emphasizes the importance of clear audio for speeches, highlighting the impact on delivering jokes and connecting with the audience.

Using Humor in Social Situations (00:34:40) Becca and Beth discuss the role of humor in social interactions, providing tips on using humor to build connections in various settings.

Listening to Customers (00:40:18) Beth reflects on the importance of listening to customer needs and preferences when creating products and packages for her business.

Transcript:

Beth: I don’t blend at a wedding fair when it’s a lot of, oh my god, you got This is great, and it’s a lot of Maids of Honor. But I say like, yeah, let, let, let, let Nana explain to you what she’s going to do. You know, I mean, it’s just, just a tiny bit of self awareness. It, it breaks down barriers, and it takes people by surprise in a good way.

Because that’s what you need. I’m sure everyone listening is good at what they do. Sometimes you just need a little help getting that door open.

Becca: I’m becca Pountney, wedding businessmarketing expert, speaker and blogger, and you are listening to the Wedding Pros who Are Ready To Grow Podcast. I’m here to share with you actionable tips strategies.

If you are an ambitious wedding business owner that wants to take your passion and use it to build a profitable, sustainable business doing what you love, then you’re in the right place. Let’s get going with today’s episode. Today I’m chatting with Beth Sherman. Beth is a speaker, comedian, and Emmy winning Hollywood comedy writer.

Having written for some of the biggest shows in America, including The Tonight Show and the Oscars, Beth now lives in London with her partner. We met at an entrepreneurial dinner a few weeks ago where I discovered Beth’s current business, Authentically Funny Speeches, where she helps add humor to keynote talks and, you guessed it, wedding speeches.

As soon as I heard the word wedding, my eyes obviously lit up and I wanted to find out more. So I invited her onto the podcast and she’s here today. Beth, welcome.

Beth: Nice to be here. What a great way to meet too. I, I, it was so, I mean, random isn’t the right word. We were there to network, but we weren’t there to network for wedding stuff.

Cause. That’s not remotely what the other guests do.

Becca: No, really not. And I really came expecting not to meet anyone in the wedding industry, because why would I? There was only about eight of us. But it’s, it’s what I teach all of the time. Actually, I’m always saying, you know, you never know who you’re going to meet.

You could meet a new connection anywhere, always talk about what you do. And so I loved seeing that play out in action, because when you said you did wedding speeches, I just couldn’t believe it.

Beth: strange look and I thought I can’t tell what sort of judgment I’m getting, which was Do you know what I do?

Yeah, exactly. It was, it was more of a, did I hear her right?

Becca: Yeah, absolutely. Because I just wasn’t expecting to have that. Now, I think you might be the first ever Emmy award winning person to have on my podcast. So I’m very excited about that. So tell us about getting into comedy in the first place. Tell us a little bit about your story and how you ended up working on some of these massive shows.

Beth: Well, I mean, if we go way back, I come from a family that has a very good sense of humor and a culture that has a good sense of humor, East Coast Jewish. I mean, there’s just a culture of if you can’t laugh, you’ll cry. Very, very resilient. And my dad in particular really had a great sense of humor. My mom did too, but my dad just loved humor itself.

So I grew up watching Marx Brothers, Mel Brooks, a lot of Mel Brooks. My father’s a huge Mel Brooks fan. If you don’t know, it’s producers, Blazing Saddles, Young Frankenstein. And to me, that was sort of billed as the canon. This is, this is what you should know. And I didn’t understand. I thought everyone thought of things that way.

I didn’t really listen to a lot of music growing up. I, because I was in love with comedy, my mom liked flea markets because I was in love with comedy and bored walking around them with her. I would find old albums, and so I ended up with this great collection of stand up comedy albums, many of them recorded live, and so when most kids were up in the room listening to music, I was up in my room listening to stand up comedy.

Bill Cosby, it was the 80s, we didn’t know, but a lot of Bill Cosby, George Carlin, Woody Allen, just all, all the, the sort of, that generation of American comedians, and there was just something magical about it. Lenny Bruce. And because they were recorded live, you heard the relationship with the audience, and that is something special.

Because anytime you’re on stage, but especially in stand up, it’s a dialogue. One person is speaking, but if you’re in front of an audience, that audience has a part. And in comedy, it’s particularly evident because There’s, there’s, someone tells a story and there’s a punchline at the end and there’s a laugh and then there’s, you know, you’re, you’re surfing this wave and it’s sort of, when does it recede?

When does it go back and forth? So, that wired my brain for comedy and also in the U. S. it was the late 80s, it was the, the big stand up boom, so there was a lot of stand up on TV. Now, I never had the guts. to do stand up, so I never imagined myself doing it, but one day I was 16, 14, 15, 16, somewhere around there, there was a TV show that I liked called Murphy Brown, it was a sitcom, and one day there was a news magazine show that did a behind the scenes, and the behind the scenes of this, of the sitcom, but it wasn’t about the actors.

They, it showed us something, the behind the scenes, and it showed us something called a writer’s room. And the writer’s room was ten guys, it was mostly guys, but ten, ten comedy writers around a conference table. And their whole job all week was to sit together in there. One person would write the draft of that week’s show, and then their job was just to sit there and make, go through it line by line and make it funnier.

And not just funnier, but funnier in the character’s voice. And I saw that and realized, that’s a job. That’s a job. Sit in a room with funny people. and try to outfun each other, but with a very particular target. And it’s the only thing I ever wanted to do with my life, and I went to college because that wasn’t really an option in my family.

Both my parents were the first to go to university in their families, and so I was going to, but so I went. I majored in television, which I wouldn’t recommend, but then I moved to Los Angeles to find these writers rooms and work in them. And I started as a production assistant getting coffee and driving around scripts because it was before the internet and paid a lot of dues and did a lot of stuff for free, but eventually made my way into writer’s rooms.

I got those opportunities and I learned it’s kind of an apprentice business in that sense. You can have a lot of talent, but unless you’re doing the gig, it’s hard to learn the gig. And 27 years later, That’s, that’s what I did, and I wanted to write for sitcoms, but the shows that I got the opportunities on, so in sitcoms you’re trying to make the jokes authentic to that character’s voice, but a lot of the shows that I worked on were what in my business is called comedy variety, and so here I think they’re called just chat shows.

So sort of Graham Norton, one professionally funny host. And a series of interviews, but, but some prepared comedy at the beginning and where Graham Norton is one day a week, these shows are five nights a week. So, the Late Show with David Letterman, Tonight Show with Jay Leno, worked on those, worked on Ellen for three years Ellen DeGeneres.

And. So then the skill that I developed became not just making a character funny, but it was a real person. So the weird superpower I developed was how to be funny in someone else’s voice. And along the way I got the guts and the encouragement to do stand up myself. Unsurprisingly, I loved it. So of those 27 years, I spent about 15 of them doing standup nights and weekends.

And when the shows were on break or on hiatus, I would go across the country and do weeks out of town. And I did that clubs and colleges and Vegas and all that. I went to Iraq. I did a two week military tour of Iraq in 2008, which was amazing. Doing four shows a day, going base to base in Black Hawk helicopters, combat outposts and forward operating bases.

shows for 19 guys that hadn’t seen another human in, you know, hadn’t seen a new person in quite a while. So, did all that. The segue into working for people outside the world of entertainment was that we had a, well, I was on a morning show where one of the hosts, they would occasionally do comedy, and one of the hosts particularly liked to do comedy, and she had the, she had the, the status where they could keep someone on staff.

to, to write and suggest comedy. And I would have to be at work pitching comedy off of the news, five days a week. It would be based on current events. And I would have to be at work at seven in the morning for a 7 15 pitch meeting where they would pitch the news stories of the day. And then if there was anything that was sort of If there were any comedic opportunities within it, then I would pitch ideas and then we’d produce them.

But it was also a time in the news when there was a lot of very difficult stuff. There was the Mandalay shooting in La Mandalay Bay shooting in Las Vegas. Just horrible stuff, where clearly, you knew walking into work. This is not a day for comedy. There’s, there’s not, this is primarily a new show and a discussion show.

So, you know, 7. 30 in the morning, I’m done for the day. But I have to sit in front of my computer and, and think of something to do. We were already thinking about leaving Los Angeles. And I was trying to think of what would I do if I didn’t work in entertainment. And I thought, well, I’m very good at being funny in someone else’s voice.

Maybe. I’ve helped people with best man speeches. Maybe that’s something. And, and so while I was at this TV show, I kind of hung up a shingle on Upwork actually, and just to see, and I did a few, a few people were interested. I did a few. I found I really liked it. I found I was really good at it because there’s a structure to it.

So really the wonderful part of it is finding the right stories and telling them in the right way. And it’s a bit of a formula though, so you can go through it pretty quickly. You can focus on the content without having to reinvent the wheel every time. And very shortly, I realized I can sort of, I don’t need up work.

There’s plenty of call for this. And that was the start of that business.

Becca: What an incredible story. I just love hearing people’s backgrounds because I believe whatever steps we take kind of get us to the place that we are now. And I think one of the other things that kind of made me look confused when we first met is actually our stories are quite similar and we’ve kind of converged in this strange place where we met in London because I also majored in television production.

I also worked in TV. I also worked my way up from the ground. I also knew at 15, 16, that that’s what I wanted to do. And yet so many people I speak to do not have that same story. So most 15, 16 year olds say to their parents, I want to work in TV. I want to work in TV comedy. I want to produce this show.

And their parents say, well, that will never happen. It’s really hard to get that kind of job, go find a proper job. So how did you overcome that feeling? Or were your parents just super supportive? How did you kind of get that drive to go, this is what I want to do. And I’m going to work my way up.

Beth: Well, my parents were fairly pragmatic.

So it, it, it, it’s a, it’s a kind of support. It was, well, if that’s what you want to do, knock yourself out, put the work in, but we won’t support you. I mean, we’ll support you emotionally but you’re going to have to do whatever you have to do to support yourself financially. We will pay for you to get a university education, and this is the U S so that’s no small thing, but it’s up to you to.

I, we would strongly suggest you choose some courses that, that get you some practical skills because once we pay for this, we’ll, we’ll, we’ll help you financially while you’re in college. We’ll pay for your education. We’ll help you financially while you’re in college. I always worked also, but yeah, after that you’re kind of on your own.

So it’s up to you to get out of that. Whatever is going to help you. I mean, they weren’t going to let me be homeless, but they weren’t going to enable me. So, and that seemed reasonable. There were moments, I guess, that it felt less reasonable, but it seemed more than generous in the grand scheme of things.

So that, I was very fortunate in that. But it also, maybe it’s an American thing, but we My parents don’t come from anything. My dad grew up in an orphanage because his mother was widowed during the depression with three kids and she couldn’t afford to raise three. So he and his brother ended up in a school for fatherless boys.

So, and my mom’s dad was a produce salesman. I mean, literally like guy on the street with a cart selling produce in Philadelphia. So I come from a background of of, you know, You can get anything you want, but you have to put the work in, the key is figuring out how to do it, and, and hard work, and education is often a part of that, and education in whatever form that takes, could be apprenticeship, informal, it could be just books, going to things, meeting people.

But anything is within your reach. It’s very American. You can be whatever you want to be, but it doesn’t just happen. There’s no one there with a wand waiting to bestow it on you.

Becca: Yeah, and I think that’s a really important message, because there’ll be people listening to this with their wedding businesses that think, I want to do this full time, or I want to take it to this new place, or I want to go to destination weddings, and then talk themselves out of it before they even get to that place.

But actually, as your story shows, you can do it, but there is no magic quick answer. You’ve just got to put in the work, meet the right people, and be open to the opportunities.

Beth: Yeah, and putting in the work, and that sometimes means working a few jobs at the same time. I mean, I started doing the wedding speech writing or working for people outside the world of entertainment.

While I was writing for a show, so that still took priority. I did award shows while I was doing it. I mean, I’ve, you know, I’ve been on breaks dealing with wedding clients while I was writing for the Screen Actors Guild Awards. And the Oscars were getting up early because I was on a show. And I had to, I had a call time.

I had to be there at 9. But I’d, a couple months before I got that job, I’d, I’d, there were, I’d accepted work from private clients and I couldn’t change their deadline. So that just meant I had to work more hours. But it was an investment that I was willing to make. And the more important thing is I really, really enjoy.

Being in the wedding space, I really enjoy working with people outside the world of entertainment. I love what I do in entertainment and I love what I’ve done, but it’s different. It’s different working with people who aren’t professional performers. It’s, it’s, it’s a lot of fun seeing people. Because they need much more, much more genuine emotional support and cheerleading also than professionals do.

A lot of professionals need it, but they need it in kind of a narcissistic way. But real people, not that celebrities aren’t real people, but they’re fun to work with because it’s also real events that you’re helping them with. I write, I eulogies and, and, and things because there is, you want a balance of, of humor and Helping someone express how they feel about someone who’s past is very, very important.

I take a lot of pride in that. That’s an honor. Helping a dad talk about his daughter and for a wedding day is an honor. And also, often the people that come to me are the people that have a situation that isn’t straightforward. I mean, I had a mom come to me saying, well, it’s not a father, it’s a father of the bride speech, but it’s, I’m giving, I’m giving it because dad passed away last year.

And then she said, and my son passed away four months ago. And And she said, and I want this to be about my daughter because she has been through everything and it hasn’t been about her, understandably, but she, she knew that she had to acknowledge these things in her speech because it would be strange not to acknowledge a little bit of the situation, but she didn’t want it to overwhelm the speech and she wanted it to be joyful and funny.

She wanted to have a balance. So, I mean, that’s, I’ve actually just given myself goosebumps thinking about that one, but it’s. meaningful. I feel like after 27 years in Hollywood, I feel like I’m finally using my powers for good.

Becca: Yeah. Well, I might be biased, but I genuinely believe the wedding industry is one of the best places to work in the world because that is an incredibly important day for people on the whole they put their all into it.

on the plan that they’re going to do it once. And we are there supporting them and making that day incredible for them. And what you do is amazing. So talk to me about your wedding speech business and how that’s grown and evolved over the years. Because as you said, you started just by putting things on Upwork.

How else have you grown over the years? How are you now finding your clients? What’s working for you?

Beth: So the, the, the business side of the business is that, yeah, so first it was Upwork and that allowed me, I did that for about six months and that allowed me to sort of figure out that I liked it and figure out a system and get enough reviews and, and figure out clients and what they needed and wanted or didn’t need.

I was over communicating a lot at the beginning and then I just realized, let me just shut up, write it. And then. it’s easier to rewrite it together. And then I used, so I built a website on Squarespace, just a DIY kind of one or two pages, a front page and an about page. And then I did a few Google ads and I was investing, I think, I think it was about a hundred a month in Google ads, but that really That really helped me because for what I do, people would frantically type how to write a best man speech into, into Google, and then a lot of help would come up, but also then my little paid ad and they go, Oh, someone can do it for me.

They were thrilled to find it. So, so that really helped me. And then it, it, it’s hard to, I found Google ads. Well, it just becomes kind of a growing monster and you’re never really sure they can give you lots of analytics, but you’re never really sure what’s bringing people in. And I was looking, I wasn’t really using any social media.

It’s not, I’m not a huge, just naturally in my day to day life. I’m not a huge fan of social media. I just, it might be generational. So, but what I found was, YouTube seemed to be a place I realized whenever I needed ad advice on how to do something, I would go to YouTube. And so from a content marketing lead generation point of view, I, I now do a lot about how to write wedding speeches and that seemed like that would be a good bet.

So I put about a year into, really, this is, I’m gonna put all my, you know, just a lot of energy into YouTube, built a channel. and wanted to get it monetized which means getting or at least at the time that I did it, it meant having a thousand subscribers and four thousand watch hours, and just made video after video that was how to write a father of the bride speech, how to write a maid of honor speech, how to give a two person speech, what not to do.

Here’s five things not to do. Here’s dad’s here to, here’s, here’s some tips on how to get You had to make sure your wife loves your speech. I did, I learned to do lives, and I would do live Q& As. I’m still doing those. And that allowed me to totally eliminate Google Ads. Because Google owns YouTube, and now my videos will come up organically when someone types in how to write a father of the bride speech and things like that.

So that’s, that’s become my main lead generation.

Becca: It’s a smart strategy. And I think, again, it goes back to what we were saying earlier about working hard and putting the work in because often people think, Oh, I’ll do some YouTube And they kind of go all in for about five minutes and decide it’s not really working and then just give up on it.

Whereas actually, if you want to see success in these things. You have to put the work in, you have to have a plan and actually over time that plan has paid off. But I’m sure there were times when you felt like no one was ever going to watch your YouTube channel.

Beth: Yeah, I remember telling, talking to my wife and I said, well, she said, well, what’s your end game?

And I said, well, I’d like to get to the point where I can get monetized because that means it’s really not even the money that that would bring in for me, but that just opens up other things that you can do with YouTube. I could put links to my website. into the videos themselves and things like that.

But she said, okay, what does it take to get monetized? And I said, well, you need, you need a thousand subscribers. And she said, how many do you have so far? And I said, 12.

She said, so you’ve got a little ways to go. Yeah, I’ve got a little, I’ve got, it’s a little ways to go, but yeah, I, I go down, I think also as busy people, we realize you can’t do everything. So pick one thing and go down the rabbit hole, but do one thing right or do one thing well, rather than doing a lot of things poorly.

I find that’s a strategy that works for me. I’ve also heard other people say, well, I sort of, I, I spend a year each developing my social media. I mean, I don’t try to do them all at once. I kind of put the effort into getting momentum at one, and then the following year I’ll do that. That might be something I do.

I’ve got, I have a big following on Pinterest. I don’t understand it. So getting, getting more clarity on that and understanding it more is, is, is on my to do list. But I’ve, I’ve, I’ve been I’ve tried Instagram. I find that the people that are really drawn to me as customers are tend to be fathers of the bride.

I think maybe it’s an age thing because if you’re, I’m 51 and I find that the dads relate to me more. They see the videos and the videos, you know, I try to have a few bells and whistles in them, but I’m not a TikTok person. I mean, it’s just, it’s too much going on for my ADD brain. So I, so the clients that I, I tend to get, and also the dads tend to go for the services because I have I have three levels of service, and one is do it yourself, then there’s do it I do it with you, and then there’s I do it for you.

And to be honest, the dads have the money. They’re the higher ticket clients anyhow, so I could spend a lot of time on Instagram, and I would love to have a bigger following, or a bit, you know, reach out to a bigger potential market. But they’re also not, they don’t, the Best Men and the Maids of Honor tend to take the smaller ticket purchases.

So in terms of me figuring out where to allocate my time, you know, the dad’s, I’m not cheap if I’m going to write it for you. And the dad’s, the number of times they’ve said to me, throwing so much money at this thing already, what’s, you know, what’s another grand or two? That’s, that’s who I focus on at the moment.

Becca: Yeah, well that’s smart. It’s smart to know where your audience is. It’s smart to know where the money’s coming from and it’s smart to be in the places where they’re going to be. Now I think what’s interesting about wedding speeches is that, as you said earlier, they’re not generally professionals giving these speeches.

They are just people who happen to be the father or the mother of the person getting married and a lot of pressure is put on speeches and I can speak on behalf of the wedding industry. We have all seen some terrible speeches. We’ve all seen the speeches where everyone laughs out in the room and then when you go back and edit them afterwards you’re like, these were not funny in any way shape or form.

But I know that you’ve got some strong opinions on this because you feel that it’s not always about the actual person giving the speech but the way that they have to deliver the speech. And yeah, so we’d love some tips. As wedding pros, what can we do to support these people who are having to give these speeches that they’re not really ready to give?

Beth: Well, sure. So, and again, for the people who are giving the speeches, look, you have to prepare, you have to write something, you have to practice it, edit it, you know, put some time and thought into it. But what makes me frustrated is seeing videos of speeches, and one of the things I do on my YouTube channel, one of the things that I experimented with on the YouTube channel, was reviewing some of the biggest some of the most watched speeches on on YouTube.

So this father of the bride speech has 5 million views. Let’s take a look at it and see what he’s doing. Right. Those sorts of things. So to find the right videos to review, I watch a ton of them and I see, I, yeah, I really feel strongly about how wedding professionals can set speakers up for success.

For example, people are nervous. They don’t speak all the time. I was a performer for a long time. If you go to a comedy club, the first thing you’re going to see when you walk in the door, if you’re the comedian, you’re going to look for the lineup. And the second you get there, you’re going to see, okay, let’s see.

It’s okay. I’m up at, I’m doing 10 minutes and I’m up at 854. That’s my spot. So the second, so I don’t have to sit there in a state of cat like readiness. Just waiting to hear my name. I know exactly what’s going to happen. So in the most basic sense, if you’re the wedding planner, this in even in advance, if you can, or the night before let people know what’s going to happen.

Give these speakers who are beside themselves in a, just in a full panic, let them know, okay, so here’s, what’s going to happen. There’s going to be the ceremony. We’ll come in. So this will happen. That’ll happen. And then it’ll be you, this person, then the other person. Okay. That’s it. Then at least they know.

Then they don’t have to just, every time someone clears a dish or every time the DJ brings the music down, they don’t have to think, is it now? Is it now? Is it now? So, so that’s a basic thing you can do. For the, in terms of where to place a speaker, and this, this I’ve experienced in real life, in terms of where to place the speaker, try to put them in a position where everybody can see their face at the same time.

By which I mean, I mean, I went to a family wedding and there was not just a dais, there was a stage, it was a big fancy hotel, and the DJ was up there, and all of the, it was gorgeous, and all of the tables were set up in a circle. And they were all, you know, those eight top round ones, and they put the speakers in the middle of it.

And I could see how it made sense in theory, but I was on the outer side of a round table. I couldn’t see. I mean, you know, people are not nine feet tall. Not in my family. They’re barely five seven. So I couldn’t see. So I heard all the speeches, but I couldn’t see any of them. But literally, if they had just been up on the stage or raised in some way, I would have seen their face.

I mean, think about if you go watch standup or a play or anything, everyone’s facing, I mean, the whole point of a, of a theater or a comedy club is you, you want to be able to see the person who’s performing. And I know that sounds super obvious, but I can’t tell you how many times I’ve watched videos or been there in person.

difficult to actually see the face of the person speaking. And it’s a whole different experience. Someone’s going to cry, or they’re welling up, or they’ve paused, or they’re smiling, or they’re winking, or they’re making eye contact with the, the, the couple. That’s the magic of a speech. This isn’t, you know, this isn’t They’re not JFK or Obama or Lincoln, you know, you’re not going to be moved necessarily by their words.

They’re not poets. It’s the emotional connection. And you lose that if you can’t see their face. Something that, well, this people might know as wedding planners, I don’t know, but I did an interview with a wedding planner and she said, if you want good video of the speeches, use a fixed mic. So use a mic.

Don’t just hand someone a mic because the videographer, someone’s probably set up their shot and, and that’s locked down and then they’re going to prowl around the room taking still photos. So they’ve got the video camera in one place. Well, if you give someone who isn’t used to speaking, if you give them a handheld mic, they will wander around.

They’ll be in and out of that shot. They’ll be all over the place. But if it’s a fixed mic, if it’s in the stand, maybe give them a fixed mic in a stand and say, You might want to just, or at least tell them the parameters of where they can roam, because the number of speeches I have watched, you get a lot of the back, they’ll turn to someone, and they’re, they’re not experienced speakers, so they don’t just turn their head, they turn their whole body, and now you’ve got an entire speech you can see their, their, their neck and shoulders.

That’s it. That’s a practical thing. And then she said, and she, and as soon as they finished speaking, go in there and if the, if you, they do have a handheld mic, go take it away. Don’t let them while still holding the mic go and wrap their arms around someone. Cause you don’t want a hot mic situation.

Which I found to let I hadn’t that hadn’t occurred to me, but she said that she’s had hot Mike situations where someone goes and puts their arm. I can’t believe what you said about and Joan right into the mic. So make sure you get the mic back and then just a personal one. One final one for, the videographers.

I see a lot of people, a lot of videographers that want to justify the job they’ve done. And so their final product when they deliver the speeches is they, they put music under the speech and they make it a montage. So you have this moment where someone is speaking and creating an emotional showing this emotional relationship.

And they’re just, there’s, they put music on it, and there’s photos from the past that are floating by, and to me, that really ruins, those are two different things. To me, that ruins the spirit of it. You don’t want to watch stand up. with some music and a lot of still photos floating by. You just want to watch the performance.

Becca: So true. So many helpful tips in there. And I think we need to bring the speeches back to the forefront of the wedding day because so often they’re an afterthought. So often these things, they’re so huge in the mind of the people that’s got to give them. But often to us as wedding suppliers or the venue, it’s kind of like, Oh, when are the speeches happening?

Oh, we’ll chuck them a microphone. And sound is another big problem. I see a lot of speeches where you just like the microphone crackles or you can’t hear what’s going on or they haven’t thought that through. If there’s two people, do you got any thoughts on the sound?

Beth: Yeah. I mean, when I talk to clients, one of the, one of the things I say, I say this all the time is it doesn’t matter how good your speech is.

If people can’t hear it, They can’t hear it. It’s, it’s an, it’s all a waste of time and effort. So I tell people generally, well, pay attention to what the audio is like. If someone’s speaking before you pay attention to what the audio is like, if it’s fine, great. But if you’re not sure, the first thing out of your mouth should be before you start speaking is can everyone hear me?

Can everyone hear me? Because they will tell you. I mean, all the old aunts in the back will go, no, we can’t hear you. No, speak up. Because those are so many of the venues now people are getting married. You know, it’s a barn. And it’s just like an amplifier and your cousin’s iPhone. I mean, that’s the whole sound system.

So sometimes there may be a mic, but if you are the speaker, Don’t count on it to be great. If it’s crackly and it’s better for you just to hold the mic, not use the mic, and just speak at the top of your voice or so much as you can, that’s going to help. Because again, especially in comedy, but in anything, in comedy, a joke is a set up and a punchline and it’s a chemical reaction.

One does not work without the other. So whereas if you’re giving a business speech, people can kind of get the gist and follow along. They don’t necessarily need every word, but for a joke, even if it’s just a joke of you’re telling a story and then this is what happened next and that’s the punchline. So it doesn’t have to be a ha ha.

But if those two things, if people can’t hear every word of both of them, clearly it doesn’t work. If you hear just the setup to a joke, but you don’t hear the punchline, you’re not going to get a laugh or reaction. And if you can’t hear the setup clearly, But you hear the punchline, just out of context, and he said, read the card.

I mean, it doesn’t make any sense. Yes. So it’s, it’s particularly important. that people hear you. And also, part of that is, as the wedding planner or, or as the DJ or whoever you are, quiet the room down. Because, you know, I also see a lot of speeches where it just feels like they’re, you just hear background noise.

You just hear other people having conversations. Get the rooms full attention. And I, I show speakers how to do that, but I think you can set someone up for success by clearly making it, this is the time for the speeches, shut up and, and pay attention in, in a polite way, of course. But I, I hate just people, they just become background noise.

And, and that, that’s painful, or they become Charlie Brown’s teacher and you’re just kind of hearing wah, wah, wah, wah, wah, wah, and someone’s probably sweated over this speech, or worse, paid me a lot of money and sweated over the speech for, for weeks or months.

Becca: Yeah, so many helpful tips. There’s so much we can do better.

Now Beth, while I’ve still got you, there’s a one other area I want to talk to you about because there will be people listening to this that aren’t planning on giving a keynote talk anytime soon or maybe aren’t even involved on the wedding day with the speeches. But actually I think there’s some thoughts that you can share with them because there are moments when they may be meeting clients for the first time or jumping on a Zoom call for the first time or my worst one being at a wedding fair and having to kind of engage people on a stand and they just feel typically awkward.

Do you think being funny, do you think comedy has a role in those social situations and do you have any thoughts about how people can embrace that or maybe bring some of that humor to kind of build a connection with people?

Beth: No, I just wouldn’t that be awkward if I just said after that whole tee up?

Well, that’s one thing. Comedy is the element of surprise. That’s it. That’s all comedy is. So just made you laugh now. And all I did was surprise you. You expected me to say one thing. I said something else. So it can be that simple. You don’t have to be funny to use humor. Sometimes good humor is just smiling.

So if you’re at the wedding fair and standing there, people, you know, waiting for people to come in and you have to reel them in, or you want to start conversation while they’re sort of looking at your booth, one, just be engaged. Don’t just sit there on your phone, giving them a dirty look when they’ve, or what will come across as a dirty look when they come up.

The first rule of humor is smile. I know it sounds silly, and I mean this literally, I mean, that is the first way to sort of bring a, bring the defenses down, get someone to lower their guard. Just a smile, that implies good humor. Humor and laughter, laughter is emotion, and emotion is what builds trust, and you need trust if you want someone to take action.

And that action can be buying from you or hiring you, but it could also just be as small as continuing to listen to you for the next 30 seconds, staying at your booth. engaging you in conversation. So to, you don’t have to be someone sitting there with a thousand and one jokes. It can just be a little bit of self awareness or awareness of your environment.

So if you’re at a wedding event, And one of the bands just kicked off and it’s someone is looking at your booth and it’s hard to hear them. You can, it can be as simple as just smiling and saying, yeah, I think they’re really good. Yeah, this is great. Or this isn’t awkward at all. This is very helpful. It doesn’t have to be.

You don’t have to be Jerry Seinfeld to get a laugh. You just kind of have to be yourself and be authentic, but you can create that connection so quickly with just a little bit of, and when I say self awareness, I don’t mean being self deprecating necessarily, but can just be being aware of how you come across to people.

I mean, you can’t see me now, but I’m, I’m, I’m 51. I have gray hair. It’s short. If you profiled me as a lesbian, you wouldn’t be wrong. And I end up on phone. Well, you wouldn’t. But what I mean is I don’t blend at a wedding fair when it’s a lot of, Oh my God, you guys, this is great. And it’s a lot of maids of honor, but I’d say like, yeah, let, let, let, let Nana explain to you what she’s going to do.

You know? I mean, it’s just, just a tiny bit of self awareness. It, it breaks down barriers and it takes people by surprise in a good way, because that’s what you need. I’m sure everyone listening is good at what they do, sometimes you just need a little help getting that door open.

Becca: So many good thoughts and it’s so true and I love what you said about, giving the element of surprise as well, because in the industry, we can be self deprecating because we know that at a wedding fair, every person is walking around that fair and having the same conversation with anyone.

Hey, you interested in my services? So all we need to do is say something they’re not expecting to hear from us. And that’s going to stand out a million miles away, right?

Beth: Exactly. And the example that I use is there’s a a few months ago, we were at a farmer’s market and there was a guy with a, Who, with a, he was selling vegan pastry, vegan baked goods and on the front of his stand, he had testimonials, sort of that, that was the artwork that he had on the front of it.

He had the, his logo and he had a bunch of testimonials, but all the testimonials were things like, not that bad. I hardly knew it was vegan. didn’t taste like poop. I mean, things, things that people had actually said to him and it made me go over and talk to him. It made me go over and look at the, these vegan pastries that he was selling and I’m not vegan and I’m, I don’t really have a sweet tooth, but I thought I love this guy’s marketing because everything on it was true.

And one of the things I talk about when I’m punching up keynote speeches and. is, well, and wedding speeches as well. Truth is funny. Life is absurd. People are crazy, but truth is funny. So all he had to do to stand out as a vegan bakery was literally reflect back the exact comments that he gets week after week.

And it works! It’s a vegan bakery stand, with a line! And I’m telling you, like, this is, there was so much other, different pastry that was around there. There’s donuts, there’s everything. He had a line! Because he just, it stopped people. It made them smile.

Becca: Beth, I’ve loved this conversation. Thank you so much for all the insights you’ve shared.

I’m sure that people are going to take so much away from this, whether it’s being inspired by your story or some of those practical tips around speeches and talking to people at wedding shows, so much good stuff. But I always end the podcast with the same question, which is this, what’s one thing you wish you’d known sooner in your own business?

Beth: I think it would be listen to your customer when it comes to creating your, your packages, your, your products. I really resisted the idea of doing templates and I had a lot of clients that asked for them and I thought, no, no, it’s much better to write. I want to show you how to write your own speech.

It’s not hard. You can do that. And people wanted templates and I even went through, I built a course, I took a course on how to build a course. And I built a course for people and realized very shortly after I’d put it up for sale that no one wants to invest the time and effort into a course. They want the kind of help they want.

And some people just wanted a template. So I had to figure out how to make a template that didn’t make me feel icky. Because a lot of the ones that are out there are just totally generic, but I put one together that’s fill in the blank, but it has story prompts and things like that, so it gives people it gives them the connective tissue, it gives them the structure, and then they put in what I know is the magic of the speech, which is the real personalization and the things that make it authentic and, and funny and a nice balance.

So I could have saved myself a lot of time and effort into simply By simply listening to, to my customers, they will tell you what they want and what they need.

Becca: So true. I love that. And it’s that old adage, isn’t it? The customer is always right. And we should definitely listen to them. Beth, it’s been such a pleasure having you on the podcast.

If people want to find out more about you and what you do, where’s the best place for them to find you?

Beth: Sure authenticallyfunnyspeeches. com is my wedding speech business, got everything there. And my YouTube channel is Authentically Funny Speeches. And if you want to get in touch with me for speaking, I go under my full name for that, it’s BethSherman.

com. But if you find me either place and ask me a question, I will be more than happy to connect with you and help you. And LinkedIn also Beth Sherman on LinkedIn.

Becca: Amazing. I will make sure that I put all of the links for people to find you on the show notes. Thank you so much for being a guest today.

I hope that we get to share a stage somewhere very soon so we can share some more stories.

Beth: I’d love to. Thanks for having me.

Becca xo

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