Expert speech advice from Michael Parker’s The Wedding Speech Made Easy featured in issue 168 helping you with planning, speaking and delivering your big day speech – because even if you’re not the bride or groom, if you’ve been asked to speak then this is your big day too!
Name drop! Start by introducing yourself, warmly and with a smile, as you would at a party, telling them your name. It’s an easy way to handle the ‘difficult’ first few words of your speech. As you name the people you’re here to thank, don’t rush. Give ‘space’ to every name and if there are 10 bridesmaids, name and acknowledge each one, distinctly. All deserve it and will love being named.
It is tempting to show off to your peers, who’ll probably make up half of the crowd, getting laughs from an incident that means a lot to them but little to others. But you should try to embrace the whole audience. It’s best to sacrifice a little hilarity among your friends to make everyone feel included. Rather than overloading your speech with cheap gags that may fall flat, recount a few amusing stories about whoever it is you are toasting.
Mine your memory, making notes by topic, check ‘records’ on social media and old fashioned paper (school reports can be revealing), quiz friends and family for nuggets of insight or forgotten facts. Talk to your ‘subject’ – the couple! While your speech is best as a surprise, ask them what they would like you to include. And what would they like you to avoid! Since it’s their day, this is only fair.
You can start with a thank you. Whichever speech you’re making, you can find someone to thank for something! Single them out by name, thank them warmly and personally, then lead the applause. Everyone will join in. It’s a great feeling. They will be rooting for you even before you get into your speech.
Generally we write to be read. You alone will read your script. Everyone else will listen to it. Trust your own ears. Keep reading aloud and let the words be guided by their sound. Find phrases that are memorable and trip off the tongue. If there is one thing you can do, above all else, to bolster your confidence and enjoy making your speech, it is to…pause.
Read more on how to deliver a toast-worthy speech in issue 168 on page 104!