I consider myself lucky enough to enjoy all three of these, and I can’t help thinking that the job and what it gives me are instrumental in contributing to happiness and well-being.
The reason my job gives me such pleasure is that it involves two things I love – helping people and presenting.
Keeping It Real
As an Independent Celebrant, I conduct non- and semi- religious funerals and weddings, and get to meet and work with a lot of people. As you would imagine, I conduct funerals throughout the year, whereas weddings tend to happen during the Spring and Summer months. Therefore, I meet with a lot more grief than happiness, and the responsibility is to make sure that a grieving family gets the service they want for their loved one. That’s where the ‘helping people’ comes in. But it’s one thing to sit and talk with a family for a couple of hours, sort out the finer detail and make all sorts of promises and reassurances. It’s quite another to deliver on those promises. That’s where ‘presenting’ and public speaking comes in.
From the moment the Funeral Director shuts the chapel doors, I have one chance to get it right for that trusting, grieving, hurting family sitting right there before me. The family is everything … They don’t do funerals every day, and as far as they’re concerned, theirs is the only family grieving in the world. I have to respect that, and, no longer in the safety of the family home, chatting over photos and a cup of tea, I am exposed to the congregation, to those people who have taken time out to support the family. My job is to deliver … the service and my promises. It isn’t rocket science to get it right, but get it right I must.
Authenticity in Public Speaking
So what is the magic ingredient? It disappoints me to say that I have seen celebrants, and vicars, deliver services that could have been for anybody. And when asking myself what is missing, I’ve ended up at one thing – authenticity. Because, as with public speaking for any purpose, if it isn’t real, you will fail to inspire confidence, and you will fail to get your message across.
Being a celebrant isn’t about performing, it’s about delivering. Each family absolutely has to feel that it’s my number one priority. Each service has to feel, to an extent, as if it’s the only one I’ve ever done or will ever do. And that can only be achieved with authenticity, really believing what I am saying. Without that, it doesn’t matter how confident and fluent my public speaking is. If it isn’t real, it serves nobody. Keeping it real is key.