So, you’ve been asked to give a speech at a wedding.
Congratulations! The Bride and Groom have paid you a huge compliment. They’ve asked you to be an integral part of their big day.
Where do you start? Here are a few suggestions to help you prepare and deliver a speech that will be long remembered by the happy couple and all of the guests.
Ask the Bride and Groom what they want you to cover in your speech.
If the Bride and Groom don’t have any strong views on this, you can always check with the MC. The MC will know where your speech fits in to the program and what other speeches are planned. Also make sure you know for how long you are expected to speak.
Write your speech using this three-point structure.
Let people know who you are and what your speech will cover. This is where you get into detail. Include some humorous (not embarrassing!) stories if you can. Try to ensure you spend equal time talking about both the Bride and the Groom. Sum up your speech. Often wedding speeches will conclude with a toast. A toast normally starts with “so now can I ask you all to charge your glasses (pause while people get their glasses) and drink a toast with me to ……..”
Know your audience.
The last thing you want to do is cause anyone at the wedding embarrassment or offence. Some private stories and jokes may be inappropriate or turn sour if not taken the way they were intended. If unsure if something you plan to say may offend, leave it out.
Practise your speech until you feel comfortable.
Whether you are an experienced public speaker or not, the key to delivering a good speech is to rehearse it over and over again. Practise it out loud, both in front of a mirror and to an ‘audience’ (but not the Bride and Groom!). Speak clearly, at a good pace and with volume, so that everyone, no matter where they are sitting, will be able to hear what you say.
It’s okay to read your speech.
Many people are not used to speaking publicly so it is quite acceptable to read your speech from prepared notes. Remember, everyone at the wedding is there for a good time and they are on ‘your side’. Lots of people write out their speech in full, and after practising it enough, they are able to reduce the speech to ‘prompt cards’. This allows them to speak without reading ‘word for word’ but still enables them to feel they will not forget something or lose their way in the speech. It also frees them to make more eye contact with the audience.Whatever you decide - practise your speech over and over again.
Don’t drink too much before your speech. There will be plenty of time to unwind and enjoy yourself after your speech.
When delivering your speech you’ll win the audience over straight away with a warm smile.
Speak loudly - even if you have a soft voice make sure you speak loudly.
Speak slowly & pause - avoid the common mistake of speaking too quickly. If people find it difficult to hear you, it will leave little time for audience reaction.
Follow these tips, and you will enjoy your speech and deliver it with confidence.