If you’re due to give a speech or toast at a wedding this year, you might be getting a little nervous about what it entails. For most people, public speaking doesn’t come all that naturally, so we’ve put together this guide to giving an amazing wedding speech – in just 5 easy steps.
Step 1: write your speech
We often hear guys (and it’s always guys) tell us they’re not going to actually write a speech, they’re just going to wing it. Off the cuff. For some people that works well, but for the majority it results in a speech that’s unstructured, directionless and not all that engaging. We recommend writing down your speech, word-for-word, exactly as you want to deliver it.
Step 2: write a speech
It can be tempting – especially if you’re nervous about giving a speech – to try to inject comedy by writing a poem, singing a song or in some other way obfuscating your message. But the best speeches aren’t those delivered by the best public speakers, they’re those that are most sincere. So keep it simple, leave the limerick and haikus at home, and speak from the heart. You’ll kill it, we promise.
Step 3: write a good speech
A wedding is not the time to reel off as many anecdotes as you can remember about a bride or groom, or descend into teasing and sarcasm. The best speeches have solid structure, and a killer theme. That means a beginning, middle and end, and an overarching metaphor or reference point that ties everything together. If the couple getting married are enthusiastic skiers, why not compare marriage to a black diamond trail, which – like marriage – is hard work but is ultimately exhilarating and enjoyable.
Step 4: memorize your speech
Imagine you’re at a dinner party and someone asks you a question about a subject you know intimately. You’re able to talk fluidly and confidently about it because you know it so well, riffing a little and ad-libbing jokes. By memorizing your speech, and rooting it deep inside your brain, you’ll be able to deliver it confidently and be present in the room, connecting with your audience and enjoying the experience. You won’t be tying up any of your brain power trying to remember it, so you’ll be using all of your faculties to make it awesome. Note down bullet points on index cards that you can use if your memory needs a little helping hand, but avoid using your iPhone or other electronic device – it can read like you’re waiting for a call, and unlocking it when you need to refer to your notes will slow you down and distract your audience’s attention
Step 5: work with your wedding filmmaker
Not only do we want you to look awesome on camera, but we see a lot of wedding speeches, so we know what works and what doesn’t. We’ll usually ask you to email us your speech ahead of time, so we can shoot things throughout the wedding day that will tie in thematically with what you’re talking about. We’ll also setup a microphone stand and ask you to leave the mic in it – it will root you to one spot (which will make you look better) and free up both your hands so you can hold both your notes, and a glass to toast with.
Finally, have fun! If you do it right (by following all five steps above), giving a speech is an exciting and energizing experience. And if the wedding is being filmed, it will be recorded for all time – so make sure you nail it!