Making a Wedding Speech
Perhaps it's their humour, charisma, personality, style, knowledge, expertise, entertainment value, sex appeal, personal magnetism, charm, celebrity or something else? It's a very personal thing, so just imagine how difficult it is to give a speech which appeals to everyone in the room - and all at the same time.
This is worth bearing in mind when you think about a typical guest list at a wedding these days. For starters, the age range will be extremely broad, with everyone from work colleagues to children, and teenagers to grandparents being present. Throw in a diverse range of friends from a variety of different backgrounds and cultures and you have an audience most unlike that at any other speaking situation.
Other than their knowledge of the happy couple and perhaps a few blood ties, they will have very little in common, thus making the speech even more challenging.
It's a fair bet that being passionate about their subject is also high up the list of things that attract us to a speaker or personality. Passion in a speech comes of a magical mixture of expertise, sincerity and charisma which results in everyone in the audience being inspired, motivated and hanging on to every word they hear. Whilst a wedding reception would not normally be regarded as the right time and place for a motivational speech, the guests do want to see sincerity, earnestness, charm, personality and passion - it is a wedding after all. They also want to be entertained.
Nerves are a problem for most people making a wedding speech, and some speakers don't actually start to enjoy the day until the speech is out of the way! The now famous advertisement for Nike captures the essence behind making a great wedding speech. The vast majority of people who have to 'perform' at the reception have never spoken in front of a group of people before, either at work or socially, so the thought of having to make a wedding speech has the potential to paralyse them with fear on what is supposed to be, for grooms at least, the happiest day of their life.
It sounds harsh, but frankly the only real way to get over this is to just bite your lip and get on with it. Even seasoned, regular business speakers get nervous before a talk, but at some stage they realise they've just got to get on with it.
The Golden Rules
- Don't let your nerves spoil it for you and everyone else. The ceremony itself is the formal expression of love; the reception is the informal time. You might as well grab the opportunity with both hands and enjoy it!
- Try not to rely too much on notes and scripts as they interrupt the flow of your speech. What you say at a wedding is supposed to come from the heart - not three sheets of A4. Let it flow!
- Make it memorable by being different. Too many wedding speeches sound the same, so try to stand out from the crowd. Involve your guests, mention people by name, move around and help people to 'experience' your speech - not just hear it.
- Remember that humour is a universal communication tool. Use it but don't try to be a comedian. If you must tell jokes, practise on work colleagues over and over again until you get it right, but most important of all - be guided by their advice.
- Practise. Practise. Practise.