15 Wedding Speech Tips
If the thought of having to make a wedding speech leaves you feeling weak at the knees, then perhaps these ideas will help you perform successfully.
1. Ask about the venue – indoors or out – a lectern, mike etc.
2. Your speech should not too long or short and remember it’s about the couple; not you – some alcohol fueled attendees may talk – stay cool!
3. Your audience will be all ages and backgrounds – be inclusive and not too smart. Don’t embarrass the couple too much. Done with love, kindness and respect with a little humour, it will be remembered as a highlight.
4. First, reflect on the reaction you wish to get – be inspired that your small contribution will be memorable for all the right reasons.
5. Research before writing words; ask friends for poignant and funny experiences and include your own memories. Parents and relations are good for stories, especially when the couple were young and present with empathy. Only use the best ones.
6. Write it out just as you feel it works in the raw form and then read it again, while searching for descriptive word pictures – take everyone to that place. Aim to make your message have impact – a worthwhile contribution to the wedding.
7. Find an arresting opening; something to catch the attention. Your conclusion should also resonate and connect with the opening. Ensure that glasses are charged if you are proposing the toast. In due course say… “Would you please rise for the toast to the bride and groom – the bride and groom.”
8. Use everyday language and reach out to your audience. They are probably relaxed having enjoyed a few drinks – in party mode.
9. Paint word pictures and if you able to prepare your speech early, practise and you have time to modify it. You may be able to refer to comments made earlier.
10. Use a logical progression of thoughts, but you don’t need to work through a chronological time-line and in fact, moving backwards and forwards and around may work better. Experiment with various ideas for the ‘wow factor’.
11. You may want to gather feedback from someone who is a good experience speaker. Practise your delivery and speak slowly – use repetition.
12. The use of timbre in your voice is important, as is eye contact and strategic pauses can be helpful, but don’t overdo them.
13. Your audience will be with you all the way and so enjoy yourself. You have been provided with a great opportunity, a wonderful honour and you will do better than you think and will grow with the experience.
14. Obviously the Bride, Groom, Parents etc. will make slightly different speeches, but the tips relate to all speakers.
15. Finally, stay sober until after you have performed.
Peter Martindale: Principal, Adelaide Public Speaking