Wedding speeches can be a daunting and often a rather terrifying task. For many who are not used to public speaking, being asked to speak at a wedding can stir up a whole range of emotions. You might feel incredibly honoured that you have been trusted to speak, or you may be feeling that this is the biggest thing you have ever had to do in your life, making you feel rather ill at the prospect of it.
Here are a few tips that I hope will help you relax (!) and enjoy your speech.
This might seem pretty obvious, but you would be amazed at how many people decide that they will make a few notes and ‘wing it’. My husband was one of them at our wedding. Was I impressed? No, I certainly wasn’t!! Practice your speech so that you are familiar with it. Make sure you’ve read it aloud lots of times. It will also mean you are much calmer because you have thought about the content and what you want to say.
Be aware that your content needs to be appropriate for audience, and that they need to be able to follow your material. Inside jokes between you and the bride and groom might not work with the majority of the audience!
Once you have written your speech out, then think about making bullet points of the key messages. You want to be authentic and by saying your speech in your own words using cues to remember each part will allow it to flow and sound much friendlier than reading the entire speech straight from a sheet of paper. Practice saying your speech by using the key points and this will keep your speech relaxed and well paced.
Fundamental to you taking control and remaining calm is your breath. By focusing on slowing your breathing down and pausing to take a breath during your speech you will deliver a clearer and more relaxed message. Think about your pace and give your audience time to process what you are saying and maybe even an opportunity to clap or laugh if appropriate.
Eye Contact and Smile – it’s a friendly audience
If you are feeling nervous, which is a normal reaction to public speaking, smile (and breathe). By smiling and looking at your audience you will notice that they will smile back. Remember they want you to do well and they are happy to listen. You want your audience to see you looking happy and enjoying your speech. They are more likely to relax and enjoy what you have to say if they are not worrying about how nervous you are! You should also make as much eye contact as possible with the guests and the bridal party. Making eye contact to who you are speaking to will also make your speech seem much more personal and sincere.
The most important thing to remember is to be yourself. Your speech should be warm and personal and from the heart. Focus on this and you won’t go wrong.