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The Celebrant Society - Latest News

10/12/2018: Building and Using Relationships to Sell Yourself

In order to get the right balance of work as a celebrant, it is necessary to make sure that the right people are aware of you, and have enough regard for your work.

Like selling anything else, this doesn't happen overnight and certainly doesn't happen just by telling people. Particularly in a role like celebrancy which is all about people, the confidence to engage you or to recommend you can only be instilled in others over time.

All manner of people need to be brought on board as direct and indirect sources of work, from the obvious ones like funeral directors to the less obvious ones such as local florists, dress hire companies, photographers and all who provide services to those celebrating life created, lives joined or a life lived.

Having built a network, you must then enthuse the members of your 'street team' sufficiently and provide them with enough knowledge of what you do, to become your representatives, providing enough reasons to the people they talk to, to encourage them to meet you face to face for the final stage of the sales process.

As we are well into the 21st century, the communications opportunities that come with it must also be brought to bear on the challenge of getting more work for you as a celebrant. Appropriate use of web site, social media and broadcast email can make the right people aware of why they should be engaging you. You can't always guarantee that they will be seeing your information at the right time, so it has to be made memorable enough that when that time comes, they can call you to mind.

The training programmes at the Celebrant Society include invaluable techniques to help you build, maintain and profit from your network. Coaching in the aspects of marketing, promoting and selling your services is every bit as vital as training in the art of delivering them. To make a difference in people's lives, first you must gain the opportunities. Professional training is a start to opening the right doors.

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29/11/2018: Expect the Unexpected at All Times!

Crematoria run to precise schedules, and the time given to each ceremony is strictly limited. Any delays can result with the funeral director being faced with additional charges. Needless to say as the person responsible for ensuring the smooth running of the service, if this happens, you are the person to attract the blame. As the funeral directors are your customers, this can jeopardise your chances of future work from them.

The trouble is that you can't control the unexpected delays that sometimes crop up. Some examples from recent ceremonies include... Very often family members will wish to make a personal tribute at the last minute, read a poem, sing a song or just tell a story. You may well find a barely legible piece of paper thrust in your hand with a request to read the contents.

This example of just such a last minute document, although legible, did contain a few 'surprises'. First of all, being emailed to the wrong address meant that it arrived just minutes before the service, so had to be factored in hurriedly, being read from the screen of a mobile phone. Normally turned off for the duration of services, the technology duly played its part in the proceedings and rang. Happily, it was set to silent, but for a moment, the precious document disappeared from the screen while the caller realised they were not going to get an answer.

All such unexpected changes have a knock on effect on precious time, and while it is always respectful to include all memories of the departed, you must have a 'Plan B' for timing that allows enough elastic to accommodate requests, make all the planned eulogies, and maintain a relaxed, calm and professional atmosphere, while keeping within tight time limits..

The skill of adjusting the pace of your delivery is a very important one to learn, with an 'ideal' that goes perfectly to time if no delays occur, through to a quickened pace that shaves off a little time while still maintaining the respect and gravitas of your eulogy. A delicate balancing act indeed.

Expecting the unexpected is an important part of all the training and CPD programmes at the Celebrant Society. With a lifetime of experience, our coaches have seen it all and have a wealth of handy hints up their sleeves to help keep everyone happy while maintaining a steady ship.

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24/10/2018: Celebrant Society Conference, 2018 Timetable

Monday 21st January 2019

Introduction and coffee
Paul Smith lead coach and Society Founder
The introduction will give background information about the work of celebrancy, basic organisational and personal considerations, as well as, a broad spectrum of the work in various arenas.

Networking coffee and session selection for the first breakout.

First breakout session
Paul Smith looks at the fundamentals of funeral celebrancy

June Hayes discusses the various requirements of weddings, civil ceremonies, hand fastings and the renewal of wedding vows, religious and secular services will be covered along with the more unusual requests that may arise.

Baby naming ceremonies
Frankie Gibson will guide you through the specialist handling of baby namings, christenings, "welcome to the worldings" and baptisms.

Networking and return to the main auditorium.

Practice and Planning Promotes Perfect Performance
Paul Smith takes a look at the stages that lead up to a perfect ceremony.
The work of a Celebrant is similar to an iceberg.
95% of it never seen but without the invisible part it would never work.
Research and mental preparation help to provide the polished delivery which gives families the confidence in your work, as well as providing comfort in times of trouble, and endless joy during happy events.

Networking and discussion
Selection for second breakout session

Paul Smith discusses weddings
Frankie Gibson takes over the second part of baby naming ceremonies
June Hayes discusses Mindfulness and meditation
Paul Smith and Peter Hofford continues with the funeral group

Lunch and networking
Return to the main auditorium

Delivery, linguistics, movement and manorisms all play a huge part in the work of a Celebrant.
Not only the words and gestures suit your own personality but also they must fit the style, beliefs and culture of the families you work for.
The art of becoming a social chameleon is one that must be cultivated.

Networking and discussion
Selection for the third breakout session

Funeral skills with Paul Smith
Baby naming specialities with Frankie Gibson
Wedding celebrations with June Hayes

Coffee and networking
Return to the main auditorium

Bringing it all together
Paul Smith takes a look at the business aspects that make all the training and hard work pay, how to establish key relationships, the basics of sales, marketing and promotion in order to get your name in the right place and how to promote through personal and remote content.

Final questions and answers
Paul Smith, June Hayes, Peter Hofford and Frankie Gibson take a look at the business aspects of celebrancy.
If you have any information to share with the group or questions that you would like answered by peers or the conference speakers this is the time to bring them to the assemblage.

The finishes at 4.00pm but is followed by an open ended conversation period where you can raise questions and issues specific to your own aspirations. Speakers will remain on hand as long as necessary to provide the answers you are looking for.

Conference price per delegate:

Lunch (optional)
£20 per head

Spaces are limited so please submit your interest by clicking the more information link, or book directly using the links below:

Booking Details

To book Conference & Lunch, click here

To book conference without lunch, click here

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24/09/2018: Research is the key to successful celebrancy

Before you even get to the stage of making the opening statement as discussed in a previous article, you must be intimately acquainted with what you are going to say throughout. The key to making this appropriate and engaging is to carry out thorough research beforehand.

To take a funeral eulogy as an example, the bare facts of dates, family members and friends worthy of mention is a given. However, the real value in the work of a celebrant is to highlight the best of the person concerned. This can only be done by getting as much information as possible from those who were most closely involved.

When talking to family members and close friends, one golden rule is to ask the questions, then question the answers. "What were his/her hobbies?". The answer may be… "Oh, downhill skiing, macrame and whippet racing.". That begs the prompt "Quite a variety, so tell me more, for example, achievements, awards, amusing incidents and people concerned.". The response provides the key jig-saw pieces that you will need to make a truly personal resumé of the life that person lived. Favourite sayings, newspaper cuttings and family mementos can all be factored in to weave a beautiful tapestry of a life lived.

Getting information on music they enjoyed, poems or readings that were meaningful in their life and places that were important to the person or had significance in the events they experienced can all help to ensure the complete ceremony is absolutely personal and all those present can identify with the life that is being celebrated.

Copious notes are needed at this stage, so that nothing relevant is missed. As the old saying goes, when you write something down, you have earned the right to forget it. It will still be there when you come to compile your eulogy from the information you have collected.

Research techniques that are part of the training and CPD regimen at the Celebrant Society, help to find the right people and ask the right questions to get the most meaningful information.

Powerful research tools are just a part of the training programme at the Celebrant Society and are one of the most important when it comes to differentiating a professional approach from the far too common mediocre. Call us now or email for more information about taking on the challenge of successful celebrancy, armed with the skills that you will need to really stand out.

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17/09/2018: Meet Pete. Pete has a time machine…

Well, not quite, but in the eyes of a busy celebrant, his machine certainly runs a close second.

Crematoria run to schedules that are timed to the minute. Arriving, or leaving late can have consequences for funeral directors in terms of additional charges. Even worse, families, if not 'your' family, the next one to arrive may find themselves having a rushed service, leaving them aggrieved and highly unlikely to recommend the celebrant concerned.

Paul Smith, the Society's Lead Coach extolled his virtues thus: "That is where Pete comes in. While getting across a busy city in a car, then finding a place to park in good time to perform every ceremony at 100% is a near impossibility, Pete is my go-to man to make sure I am in the right place at the right time."

Then went on to say: "Not only does he get me there in perfect time every time, but the ride on the back of his bike helps to clear my head and concentrate on the service to come, rather than on the mechanics of travel.

When you really need to be somewhere on a tight schedule, I can certainly recommend Pete and his company, who are efficient, knowledgeable and very pleasant to deal with. I could certainly not get the amount done in a day that I do without his help."

If you are a busy celebrant with deadlines to meet and distances to cover, Paul recommends taking a look at Limobike's web site.

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07/09/2018: Openings are vitally important, they can make or break a ceremony

Nobody wants the most interesting opening at a funeral to be the one into which the coffin will eventually disappear… "For those of you not familiar with a secular funeral service, this is a celebration of life." Is possibly the worst way to begin a service in honour of someone's much loved friend or relative. Sadly, it happens far too often.

There are celebrancy training courses that are delivered in bulk. This one-size-fits-all approach can lead to just this kind of impersonal, irrelevant opening gambit. Once such a line has been delivered, the attention of those present is lost without redemption.

You only get one chance to make a first impression.

In this occasional series of articles, we will be taking a look at ways to avoid some of the common the pitfalls of celebrancy, making every ceremony unique and memorable.

As each service starts with a powerful opening to capture attention, great celebrancy careers start with highly personalised, one on one coaching, shadowing and mentoring programmes. Each of us has widely differing personality traits, strengths and attributes that can be used to the best effect in helping families find comfort in the sad times, while enhancing the joy of happy occasions.

If you would like to know more about the work of celebrants, you can follow these articles or contact us by phone or email (just click in the header of any page), then let us create a programme that will help your personality to help the personalities of those you eulogise come shining through. Call us today or click in the header of any page to send us an email to find out more about making a career in the growing world of celebrancy.

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04/05/2017: Bury me, bury my horse

The life of a celebrant is certainly varied and full of interesting people. Take for example, a funeral conducted by Paul Smith recently.

A sensationalist headline could read "Woman buried with her horse". However, the sensationalist press, gladly, are not called upon to conduct funerals and deliver eulogies. The wishes of the deceased are deserving of much more respect than that.

As a lifelong, passionate horsewoman, the lady concerned had requested that the ashes of her greatly missed horse be buried with her. In fine style, the lady and her horse were eulogised and laid to rest in a shared grave, uniting them for ever.

This is just one example of the flexibility and freedom that becoming an independent celebrant offers. Making people happy at times of great sadness is a gift, this is a part of that gift.

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28/03/2017: You don't have to be young and fit to marry

One of the joys of being a celebrant is that on occasions you get to help people fulfil their dreams and be instrumental in their happiness.

This can happen at any stage in any life, as two recent examples have shown. In one instance, the lady concerned was terminally ill and with very little of her life left. Her dream was to marry the gentleman in question and she was determined that this would happen. By making arrangements with the registrar, licence was granted to carry out the wedding ceremony at the side of her bed at home. For the last few days of her life, the joy of the long-dreamed of marriage helped assuage the suffering of her illness.

The final chapter in this story is that the lady's husband then requested that Paul should deliver the eulogy at her funeral.

Later this month, Paul is to officiate at a wedding ceremony for two residents of Drummonds Care Home in Colchester. Both are wheelchair bound and in their 60s, but when the time is right, the time is right. Paul always mentions how privileged he feels to be a part of ceremonies like this same sex civil partnership and the marriage of a terminally ill lady at her bedside. Celebrancy offers the opportunity to share immense joy as well as helping to overcome grief, touching the lives of young, old, fit and frail in equal measure.

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04/02/2017: Want to know how to get more work from funeral directors?

This book, written by a long term industry insider is aimed at helping bereaved families save quite large sums of money in arranging funerals.

Using insights to the world of funeral directing gained over many years of experience, John Parry imparts information that can also be useful to celebrants wishing to forge relationships with funeral directors and become their go-to person for funeral celebrancy.

The book is available through Amazon click here for details.

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16/12/2016: Training courses

A Celebrant Society training course is now regarded as among the best within the industry. In terms of impact and value for money they are hard to rival.

The courses include all aspects of funeral work, civil weddings and baby naming ceremonies.

Although they are structured intensively over two days it is by no means the end of the story.

All training is conducted on a 1 to 1 basis and includes the delegate shadowing an experienced celebrant during a home visit; a meeting with a funeral arranger; learning all the elements that are involved with writing an impactive script and seeing a celebrant "in action" taking a service. Candidates learn a great deal during their training period but it is impossible for them to learn everything all at once.

Training remains "on-going" forever, in terms of back up and support. Funeral and wedding scripts can be checked by our writers for accuracy, content and running time before they are delivered at a ceremony or event.

It is not uncommon for celebrants to experience writers block and sometimes it takes a trained eye to help them complete a script.

Celebrants learn to expect the unexpected.
It is not unusual for a celebrant to receive a panic call from a funeral arranger in the afternoon checking someone's availability for the following morning. This happens when a family has been let down at the last minute by their trusted clergyman and a celebrant is entrusted to step and write an elaborate story of someone's life from whatever details they are given over the phone.

The celebrant's aim is then to achieve a satisfactory outcome from the family, regardless of what is required at such short notice.

This is one of many scenarios that our celebrants are likely to face during their careers. Choosing to become a celebrant is rewarding in every way and a worthwhile investment for the right person.

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