The Single Best Thing You Can Do To Nail Your Wedding Speech
Have you been invited to give a toast at an upcoming wedding?
Whether you’re the best man, maid of honour, parent, sibling, or even if you are a bride or groom yourself, giving a toast is a major honour.
This is your opportunity to stand up – in person or virtually – and help celebrate a special day, a special couple, as well as those in attendance.
But unless you work in a profession that requires it, we don’t have a lot of opportunities to speak in public anymore. If you’ve got the jitters, that’s completely natural.
But you know what? You got this!
You’ve got a simple trick up your sleeve that’s going to give you so much speaking confidence, you’re going to be EXCITED for your turn at the mic.
What is this simple trick?
Does it involve an earpiece and a Cyrano De Bergerac character hiding out in the cloak room?
No, but I like your imagination!
Does it involve some sort of Matrix-style skill upload that will turn you into the world’s best orator?
Wow, no – and this trick is way less invasive!
What are we talking about then?
The best thing you can do to nail your upcoming wedding speech is…
(I told you it was simple.)
Show Yourself – And Your Audience – Some Love
Some people are amazing at speaking off the cuff, but honestly… most of us aren’t. If you’ve ever watched the Oscars, you know even professional actors struggle to say anything fresh or meaningful in their allotted space. They usually just find their stride by the time the orchestra cues up and they’re politely escorted offstage.
Thinking through your toast in advance – from start to finish – helps ensure your comments play out as well in real life as they do in your head. Maybe that treadmill story isn’t as funny as you thought. No sense bombing in front of everyone – test it out beforehand.
Plus, preparing in advance means you’re not madly scrambling to jot down your thoughts on the back of a napkin during the front end of the reception.
Consider your speaking notes a gift to yourself – on the big day you get to sit back, relax and enjoy the festivities with everyone else.
Not only will preparation help you pace your comments and get your timing down, but it will also provide you with a solid exit strategy.
Have You Ever Seen a Speaker Flounder Without a Plan? It Ain’t Pretty.
There’s nothing worse – for the speaker or the audience – than being unable to bring it all home.
Sure, speaking off the cuff starts off great. You’ve got a great smile, maybe you’ve even practiced your opening line…
But then your Halloween 1992 story takes ten minutes longer than you were expecting – and it didn’t even get any laughs! – and suddenly you realize you’re caught in a tangle of words you can’t easily escape…
It’s uncomfortable to watch. And it’s uncomfortable to be that poor rambling schmuck.
You can do better!
A Little Preparation Goes A Long Way
Whether you write out your entire speech word for word or simply jot down a few key notes to keep you on track, here are five pointers to help you prepare:
Duration: Unless you’ve received specific guidance, aim for about 5 minutes, or 750 words. Just enough time to share a quick story or two and bring it all together. If you go over, no big deal, but keep in mind, there are probably multiple speakers. Less is usually more.
Opening: A great opening line will grab your audience’s attention and keep them listening for the next line. Jokes, questions and (mildly) startling statements are great ways to lure your audience in.
Show Don’t Tell: Recounting a memory for the audience adds colour and richness to your speech. It also demonstrates your loved one’s best traits rather than reciting a laundry list of descriptors. (E.g. talk about Lindsay’s volunteerism rather than simply telling us how generous Lindsay is…)
Closing: Find a simple transition from what you’ve been saying to the moment of truth – the toast.
And once the toast is over, resist the urge to keep speaking, beyond a final “love you,” or else you’ll risk floating back out to sea.
Practice: Practising is the most crucial step. It’ll help you sort out your pacing, and help you get comfortable with the flow. Plus, even though you’ll have notes with you, sometimes the moment can overtake us. Having a general working knowledge of your speech will help you easily recover from any distractions or emotions that come up.
Lastly: remember to have fun!
A wedding is a joyous event, and you’ve got a friendly, receptive audience. Giving a toast is your chance to share a beloved memory to help enhance the moment, while also adding your own signature flare.
With a little advance prep, you’re gonna nail it!
Photo by Lanty, Unsplash
Hi - I’m Shannon, a speechwriter for all occasions, and owner of Centrepiece Writing Studio. I write heartfelt speeches, handcrafted just for you.
If you need a hand finding just the right words for your toast, eulogy or milestone celebration, I've got you covered. I'll help you tell your story.
Centrepiece Writing Studio is grateful to operate on the traditional lands of the Lekwungen people, now represented by the Songhees and Xwsepsum (Esquimalt) nations...
The glorious land commonly known as Victoria, BC.
With great respect for the earliest residents of our shared coastal home, CWS strives to uphold our mutual values of storytelling and environmental stewardship.