It is said that the human brain springs into action as soon as we are born and continues to function quite satisfactorily until such times as we stand to make our first speech in public! However, with a little thought, practice and patience delivering a wedding speech may not turn out to be as daunting as at first they seemed.
Whether you be Father of the bride, the Bride, the Bridegroom, the Best Man or whoever, there is absolutely no reason for you to feel nervous when delivering a wedding speech – you are amongst invited relatives and friends – you will not be making a public speech. Your audience are all “on your side” and they understand that you are not a professional after dinner speaker – nevertheless they are all anxious to hear what you have to say. However, nothing should prevent you from being as professional in your content and delivery as you can – for the better your speech, the more your audience will enjoy it – and the more attentive will they be.
Eye contact is very important when delivering a wedding speech
Hold your head up high and look towards your audience whenever you speak. How can you expect them to pay attention and look at you – if you do not look at them when delivering a wedding speech?
Always remember that you are talking to an audience – NOT YOURSELF. The surest way to be a success with your audience and keep their quiet attention is to speak to THEM (not the floor !) slowly, clearly, distinctly and to the point. Don`t begin your speech until your audience is quiet and you are clear in your mind what your first words will be. Tip: if, when you stand to make your speech, people are still talking – don`t panic – don`t try to quieten them by shouting or talking loudly over them and certainly not by “Sussssssh-ing”. Just stand up – face them with a fixed look and say absolutely . . . NOTHING Wait patiently and eventually you will find that gradually a hush will descend – believe me it works!
But let`s assume that you have a Toastmaster with you – surely a must to ensure the smooth running of the entire Reception – he will introduce you after having made sure that your audience is quiet and attentive – once you begin though its down to you to hold their attention! Tip: If, as is usual, there are gifts to be distributed at “speech time”, it is suggested that this takes place AFTER the LAST speech – rather than DURING any of them, thereby allowing uninterrupted speech continuity from the first to the last. The “giving and receiving” of gifts between, or during, speeches necessitates personnel movement which often has a distracting and unsettling effect on your audience
Don`t be in a hurry to start your speech. A slow and dignified rise to your feet inspires confidence. Take time to look at you audience, establish that important eye contact by LOOKING CHEERFUL and keep them waiting for just a few moments – say 4 or 5 seconds at most. SMILE – a smile from you will generate a smile from them which will help both you and your audience to relax.
Above all your speech should never contain any DOUBTFUL material – nor anything that is likely to cause embarrassment to anyone present – everyone in your listening audience is entitled to your respect. Unless you are absolutely certain that a specific remark addressed to a specific person in your audience will be acceptable to them – don`t even consider saying it. What may seem funny to you at the time may not seem funny to the person concerned nor to the remainder of your audience.
It is almost impossible to commit a speech entirely to memory and it is equally difficult to read it. I suggest that you make yourself some cue cards – about postcard size is ideal – and on them write the Main Headings of what you are going to talk about – write clearly in letters large enough for you to easily see – black felt tipped pen recommended.
I say again – speak SLOWLY. Even a little nervousness on your part – which is entirely natural – will mean that unconsciously you will be speaking much quicker than you think – to your audience your speech will appear to be almost unintelligible – so, slow down and give yourself time – there`s really no need to hurry!
Even if you feel entirely confident that you have successfully committed your entire speech to memory, always remember that a sudden attack of nerves can immediately distract your attention at any time. Always have your notes in front of you and don`t be afraid to let your audience see them. If you do lose your place, just stand there and remain silent until you have found where you left off. Keep them waiting a few seconds and then – calmly carry on as if nothing had happened. Just because you had lost you place – there`s no need to tell the world about it!
Plan and rehearse before delivering a wedding speech
You may at first feel that “it`s going to be easy ” and that you can do it in ” five minutes”.- but things are seldom like that. First impressions are often misleading – so try to have it planed out at least a week or so beforehand. I would suggest that at first you write out fully what you have in mind to say.. Then read what you have written, re-read it and then read it again. By this time hopefully you will clearly see the need for some alterations, additions or subtractions. When you are completely satisfied with the content of your speech now is the time to make up your Cue Cards…. and
It is also time for rehearsal. You can`t really rehearse your speech on your own – if you do, you are asking yourself to do two things at the same time – (a) concentrate on what you are wishing to say and (b) listen to your own delivery. It is sometimes quite off putting to listen intently to your own voice – far better to let someone else do that. So ask a relation or friend(s) to be your audience – preferably someone who will not be at the Reception and will therefore feel far more able to give an honestly impartial opinion of your performance – and that`s just want you want them to do – you are not fishing for compliments – you are asking for honest opinions and suggestions for improvement.
I often hear said “Oh I`ll be OK when I`ve had a few drinks ! RUBBISH – you won`t . Alcohol will dehydrate you further and that`s the last thing you want. Granted you may need a sip or two of liquid refreshment during the course of your speech – but the most refreshing is yes – WATER. Believe me – it`s the truth – so do make very sure you have a glassful (or better still a jugful) handy before the speeches start – and more especially if you are LAST in the line of speakers.
And finally, being a Toastmaster myself, I have heard many speeches – some good and some not so good – but the one thing that they have all had in common is that, on THE DAY, they have all come from the heart – and surely that`s how it should be !
Good luck and above all – ENJOY IT !
Speeches can be likened to a Lady`s Dress – they should be long enough to cover the essentials but short enough to be interesting.