I have been inundated in the past few weeks with clients calling for tips on how best to deliver their wedding speech. Whether you are a Best Man, Groom or Father of the Bride, here are eight points that come up repeatedly and that I hope will help you make the most of your material.
Talk slowly and take your time. If it takes 12 minutes, not nine, it doesn’t matter at all.
Pause for effect. Your audience need time to digest the story before they get the punch-line. So give them time to get it.
Emphasise key words. Imagine you’re telling a story without a script. You’ll say some words louder than most. And change your inflection on others.
Ignore hecklers. You can pre-prepare a couple of responses to a noisy member of the crowd, or smile and thank them politiely. But it is usually safest to ignopre them completely. This is a wedding, not a stand-up gig, and you are not expected to come up with pithy responses fit for the Comedy Store.
Practise. Great material is irrelevant if it’s delivered badly. You’ll be much more natural when you’re not reading straight from the page. Know it well enough that it just becomes a safety net.
Gesticulate. Body language is vital. If you’re addressing someone, look at them. Use your arms to emphasise a point.
Manage the shakes. Paste your speech onto card. Or rest it somewhere you can see it. Find out if there’s a lectern. Holding a shaky piece of paper will put you off before you get going.
Don’t get drunk beforehand. It may feel like the easy way to get through it, but it won’t seem so sensible afterwards.
It goes without saying that everyone has different concerns about their own speech and that these tips only cover some high-level worries. I run sessions helping clients with their delivery as well as writing their speeches, so please call me if you’d like a more personal discussion of the issues facing you on the day.