The wedding speech. It can be incredible and inspiring or a total disaster. Now that you have committed yourself to commemorating the upcoming occasion with some thoughtful words, we want to do our best to help you be remembered for all the right reasons.
This week's blog lists 5 of the most important tips we have found as being critical in delivering great wedding speeches. Follow along and leave your guests in a state of awe (rather than leaving them in a state of shock.)
1) Microphones Matter
As amazing as your speech might be, it won't matter if no one can hear it. Mastering the microphone is easily the most important first step to speech mastery as you are literally left powerless without it.
Good microphone skills aren't as difficult as you might think either. The idea is to always be within a couple centimeters for optimal volume. What happens quite often is that nerves will kick in and the speaker will shy away, creating a few feet of distance between them and the microphone, which renders even the best of microphones useless.
Turning the microphone up only works to a certain extent as there is a point where the microphone will pick up ambient sounds from the room at increasing volume. The result? Feedback!
While every speech-giver might not be savvy with how to use a microphone, what you can do is make sure your MC knows to help them out. If they notice that a speech isn't loud enough, move the microphone closer to their mouth or even mention to the speaker to get closer.
It might seem unnatural to break the flow of their speech to correct their microphone-use, but bear in mind the existential question:
If the speaker gives a speech and nobody hears it, was it really a speech at all?
In the end they will likely thank you and the MC for making sure that their brilliantly crafted words were delivered at a volume to be appreciated. Just like everyone who has ever written a speech, they were hoping to captivate and get laughs and tears from an engaged crowd. The only way they are going to get it is if you help make the microphone work for them.
2) Don't Take Too Long
Now that you have everyone's attention, don't abuse it! Modern weddings are often planned by the minute by planners and caterers alike, meaning that they assumed your now 25 minute speech would only take about 5.
Don't let the food get cold on your behalf! Every wedding is an event to be shared among friends and family alike. Your perspective, while incredibly important, isn't the only one (no matter how funny or thoughtful you might be.)
So how long is too long? If you are an inexperienced speech giver, 3-5 minutes is quite ideal (even if you are terrible, guests are generally conditioned to give you thunderous applause after a reasonable length.)
If you are an experienced charismatic charming personality, you may sometimes extend the length of the speech to 5-10 minutes. Especially for important guests like the parents of bride or groom, this is sometimes even expected as their perspective is obviously more important. But do beware that after 10 minutes guests will definitely be checking their watch and waiting for a drink refill.
The mark of a great speaker isn't how much time they took, but rather how effectively they condensed their thoughts to create maximum effect. A brilliant thought to back this up was offered by Abraham Lincoln as he once apologized to a friend:
"If I had more time, I would have written a shorter letter ."
In the same fashion we have all laboured over an email to condense it for the compassion of the intended reader, so too should a speech be laboured over to condense it for the compassion of the wedding guests. Remember that they love you and they will love your speech, but not as much as they would love the second course.
3) No Jokes About Exes
At all. Under any circumstance. Ever.
Even though this advice seems incredibly obvious, we see it happen again and again. And it is just as awkward every time. And while the "Curb Your Enthusiasm" style tension can be super-funny for an outsider to enjoy, we certainly don't want it to happen to you!
It usually comes from a Best Man or Maid Of Honour deciding that they would like their speech to be funny. It also seems innocent at first as they have told these jokes before and they have worked every time. The difference this time? The bride and groom's extended family wasn't seated at the tables in front of you with their arms crossed casting an incredibly disappointed glare at you.
Your joke might be brilliant. It might be the funniest thing that we ever heard. Awesome, then tell it tomorrow. Tell it next week. Don't be remembered as the guy who set the divorce in motion.
In fact that seems so improtant I think it deserves bold lettering:
Don't be remember as the guy who set the divorce in motion!
Print that out. Keep it on the table in front of you as you write your speech. Contemplate its meaning before you go to bed at night. We rest assured that if you omit references to ex-girlfriends and other uncomfortable areas, you will be known as a classy sort of friend
ALSO, parents beware, this definitely applies to you too! Lines like "We always thought you were the best of the nitwits that she brought around", will not be regarded as awesome by your daughter. She will instead finish her glass of wine and stop listening to the rest of your speech, which was actually pretty darned thouhtful otherwise.
4) Remember It's About The Couple
Being that this is the bride and groom's wedding day, it should be obvious that all speeches should be focused on the lovely couples' love story. The opposite is often true as speeches become the couples' life stories, ranging from childhood memories to buddy college stories to random tales about their sons' first job at Pizza Hut.
Stay focused! You literally just saw the couple's wedding story, so tell their love story from your perspective. How it came together. Stories from the beginning. Wishes for them in the future. Advice from your perspective on how to create a lasting romance.
Parents are the most guilty here as they will often spend 8 minutes of their speech telling how proud they were of their son/daughter growing up, going to school, making it professionally, then add the love story as a 1 minute end note in their child's story of awesome.
Tell the couple's love story and try to make them cry.
We promise that all of the best wedding speeches stay focused on the courtship, the romance, the travel stories and the inspiring things that they have done TOGETHER. This is where the real emotion and the good tears are hiding. Once you get started telling their love story, the other details like work and school/upbringing will pale in comparison.
5) Practice Makes Perfect
Perfect isn't actually quite the right word to use as your speech will certainly not be perfect no matter how long you practice. However, practice will definitely make your speech worth remembering. It might even make it legendary!
After you have written your speech, practice it at least once with a timer to make sure you have followed tip number 2. Having it written and practiced will also ensure that you employed tips numbers 3 or 4, slipping in references that are either unnecessary or uncomfortable.
There is a difference to reading your words and hearing them out loud. Sometimes things that seem funny written just don't come out the same out loud, or at the very least need to be re-worded for maximum effectiveness.
A mirror can also be helpful for making sure your head is up and you look comfortable. If you are feeling especially ambitious you can use a prop as a microphone to practice tip number 1.
We realize you will feel silly, but do it anyway.
It' is sort of like eating your vegetables or working out regularly. There is no arguing the benefits as they are fairly obvious, it is a matter of doing it. Put in the time and we promise you will achieve the greatness you are aspiring to!
6) Most Importantly...
If you wrote down your speech, don't lose it! On a day full of so many things, misplacing your thoughtfully-written speech isn't as unlikely as you might think.
Trust a member of the wedding party to hold a copy for you just in case. Otherwise you might be scrambling through your car in the middle of dinner, wasting precious time and coming to the microphone in a fluster.
Most importantly, don't lose it!
Relax, let the words come from your heart and enjoy your moment in the spotlight (so long as your moment is between 3 to 7 minutes in length!) Cheers to a great wedding speech.
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