We all know speeches can make or break a wedding reception. They are usually the only aspect of a wedding guests will remember, especially if they are bad. All the preparation that goes into choosing your venue, designing your invitations, and making your day perfect will be forgotten if the speeches are remembered for all the wrong reasons.
We have Richard Clune, founder of Wedding Speeches Ireland, to hand with some expert advice for those of you who are breaking out in a sweat at the thought standing up in front of a crowd. With these top 10 tips, your wedding speech will blow your pals away!
Begin With A Bang
Far too often speakers begin with the conventional ‘I’d like to welcome you here today and thank you for making the day special..’ and so on. This is so boring! Instead begin with an interesting story or outlandish statement that will whet your guest’s mouth. Then by all means thank everybody for being there, otherwise you’ll be rude! But what this will do is steal your guests’ attention, and they will make sure to listen after you thank everybody because you’ve started with something interesting.
Your guests are King and Queen
If your guests don’t understand, get confused or could possibly be insulted by what you say, your speech becomes worthless. Recently I worked with an Australian Best Man who mentioned the Buck’s night in his speech and how he spends a lot of time using the esky with the groom. To a room full of Irish guests neither of those words made sense. Throughout your speech you must constantly ask yourself how your guests will respond to what you say and if they will enjoy it. If not, it’s best to change your speech. FYI – the buck’s night is the stag party and an esky is an ice box!
Choose Your Message & Build
If you are uncertain of what to say in your speech, come up with a short and simple idea or message that you want your guests to remember the morning after. This will keep your speech focussed so it won’t wander into unnecessary stories. You can build up every other part of your speech around the idea or message. For example, you might speak about how wonderful your new spouse is, and tell stories about what makes them wonderful.
Tell A Story
Anecdotes are the best way to get your message across to your guests because they can relate easily and understand them better. You should tell them as often as you can during your speech. However, everybody has experienced hearing stories that go on far too long. What you should aim for is to give just enough information so that your guests will understand the story and no more.
Take Inspiration From Others
Have you ever been at a wedding and remember one of the speakers doing something really well? Guess what, you can borrow it! Though play nice and say you heard it before rather than claiming credit for it. On the other hand…
Take Heed From Those Before You
Did the best man make a cringy joke about the groom’s fun filled weekend in Amsterdam that left everyone embarrassed? Avoid this speech disaster and use your experience to make your speech memorable for the right reasons.
Humour is a great addition to any wedding speech. Most guests think of the speeches as something to suffer through, so making them laugh and enjoy themselves is always a pleasant surprise. However, you must remember humour is only enjoyable when it raises people up rather than putting them down. The line between tasteful and tasteless is quite distinct, so make sure you stay on the right side of the track.
Speeches can’t be written the week before a wedding. It’s important to begin thinking about and writing your speech in the months leading up to the wedding day rather than the days before. Write a draft speech, let it simmer, go back to fix some mistakes or re-phrase sentences and this will lead to a better speech. I know it is one of the harder parts of the wedding and the speech may scare you, but if you can spread your speech out over time, it is better than putting it on the long finger and rushing to write it the week of the wedding.
Practice Makes Perfect When Building Your Confidence
It’s important to practice your speech before the wedding. Try to practice it in front of people to build your confidence. A second tip I’ve only heard recently is not to practice your speech from the beginning each time. If you have distinct segments of your speech you should practice each segment individually rather than running from the start all the way through.
I’m sorry; I know this is an emotional day for you. You are marrying the man of your dreams, or you are giving away your daughter, or you are telling a room full of guests how great your best friend is. But 80% of the room don’t have the same emotional connection as you, and if you start crying everyone will look at their watch wondering if this will go for much longer while secretly hoping you finish soon.
Richard has been learning the skills of speaking for the past four years from some of the best speakers in the world, including former world champions of public speaking. Feel free to contact him if you have any questions by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or you can also catch him on Twitter & Facebook.
Image Credits: Tracy Gow Photography; Dermot Sullivan Photography.