There are only a handful of phrases in the English language that can so immediately provoke a spine-tingling shudder of fear like when someone says "I'd really like you to do a speech".
Professional speechwriter, Lynda from Silvertongue Speeches hears it all the time.
"So many hate the idea of giving a speech or find the whole idea so stressful it ruins the day, and I have had to sit through so many painful speeches I knew - I want to help make this better."
I asked Lynda if she can help out Unbridely Brides and Grooms (and their bestman, maid of honour or parents as well) with her ultimate tips and tricks to delivering a really great speech.
Thanks so much for your time and expertise, Lynda!
I am so excited to write exclusively for Unbridely – I am an avid follower and fan, so when my stalking paid off and Camille asked me to share some of my top tips and tricks to help with your wedding speeches, I jumped at the chance to contribute!
Now, here’s the thing about wedding speeches – whether we like it or not, they are a major part of the entertainment on the night.
A good wedding speech can set the tone and make the night, a bad one will linger for hours and days after as people moan over the horrid common ground.
They are so important to get right. And that’s where I come in.
After helping my clients to write and edit their speeches (I do coaching too *shameless plug*), here are my top tips for each of the main speakers and a few generic ones thrown in to make your speech as successful as possible!
For the Couple
Traditionally, the groom speaks last on behalf of the bride to say all the necessary thank yous.
- Make sure you avoid sounding like you’re reading a shopping list of thank yous by adding personal flair and detail to each thank you.
- Cull your list of thank yous to keep it as minimal as possible and delegate wherever you can– get your Dad to thank the event staff, ask the MC to mention the ladies who helped set up the flowers etc – this makes your speech more personal and engaging as you thank only those that really matter.
- Hey Brides – you can totally have a go too! Let hubby do the legwork while you steal the show, or present a speech together! Don’t let him have all the fun!
Best man/Maid of honour
- Don’t talk about the bucks or the hens, the ex, in-jokes and please, for the love of mercy, don’t swear. Grandma is listening!
- The best advice I can give best men and maids of honour is to make sure you choose the right stories and make your speech flow. To do this, ask yourself two questions when drafting your speech:
1. Is this relevant to the day?
Does this gem of a story relate to the wedding/love/marriage/the couple/your friendship? If not, find another one.
2. What’s my point here?
Are you just telling this story because its funny or do you actually have a point that links to question 1?
Asking these questions will mean your speech has relevance and flow – and isn’t just a succession of random stories with no purpose.
- Dads – watch the clock! This isn’t about you and if you can’t say it in 8 minutes (max!!), you never will.
- Do not include any story starting with ‘when Katie was two, we….’. Similar to the best men and Maids of honour – you need to make sure your stories are relevant to the occasion and the couple - its not a walk down memory lane. Focus on stories that shaped them into who they are today – getting married to this wonderful person. Stay on topic.
- And mums? If you can’t practice the line without crying, you’re not going to be able to say it on the night without being a total mess. A bit of emotion is totally fine, but too much emotion means the message gets lost. Cut it out if you can’t spit it out.
Anyone and everyone!
Finally, for anyone speaking at the wedding it always comes down to the three ‘P’s’: Preparation, practice, presentation.
- Prepare your speech in advance – winging your speech is disrespectful and never as successful as you think. Trust me, even comedians rehearse thousands of times to make it look ‘off the cuff’.
- Practice – you should have the speech drafted about 2 weeks out from the event with plenty of time left to practice. Practice includes reading the speech out loud (trust me, it is not the same as in your head), with a brush as a microphone and in the mirror. Get used to the words, get used to the microphone, breathe, and relax.
- Presentation – you have 7 seconds to make a first impression. Stand strong and confidently, breathe deep, chin up, shoulders back, smile. It sounds corny, but it works. Oh, and save the drinks ‘til after – when everyone is buying them for you anyway for doing such a great job with a kick ass speech!
Obviously, all these tips and way more are available on my blog so check it out for lots more tips and if you need a hand with writing your speech, please contact me for more information! www.silvertonguespeeches.com.au