Making a wedding speech (or any kind of speech, for that matter) has frequently been described as worse than death.
It doesn’t have to be that way.
As a professional presenter and public speaker, I want you to feel as confident about presenting yourself as I do when I am conducting a ceremony.
Whether it’s a business presentation or a Best Man speech at a wedding, it’s understandable that public speaking can be a major challenge for many people.
I want to offer you ten hints that can make that experience far less stressful and far more rewarding. They won’t necessarily solve all your issues about public speaking, but they will set you on the path to the confidence you need.
- Be brief, rather than wordy, and be relevant. Don’t go off on shaggy dog stories or sagas that mean nothing to most of the guests
- Humour is good (provided you have decent material and timing!). Ensure you are not controversial, rude, or obscene. Avoid religion, politics and personal insults, as a general rule
- Be clear in your thinking and delivery
- Practise reading your speech aloud beforehand (preferably to someone prepared to criticise you!). Become familiar with the finished article so that you don’t have to read every word
- Transfer your script in note form or (better) bullet point headings onto (numbered!) 5” x 3” cards
- Before you stand up, settle your nerves with a couple of deep breaths
- As you begin, look at your audience and smile (if you can!)
- Ensure you speak audibly and clearly and keep a check on the speed of your delivery. A microphone may be a blessing, or not. Be aware: speak into it, but avoid deafening everyone.
- Try and modulate your voice (and volume), so that it’s not monotonous and sleep-inducing
- Wherever possible, make eye contact with your audience. Hold your cue cards at about chin height (but not so near as to block the sound from your mouth!). (See the top picture.)
If you can take all this on board, you will be well on your way. There’s no substitute for good material, of course, but presenting it effectively can make all the difference.
A wedding speech is really not as daunting as it might seem. Put in the preparation and you can then aim to relax a bit. (Avoid alcohol, at least, until afterwards!) and do your best. Be assured also that you’ll be supported by the goodwill and forbearance of the guests.
You can do it!
You might even enjoy yourself …!