Having carefully crafted your wedding speech, allowing room for the laughs and 5 minute standing ovation it’s sure to receive the next thing to look at is delivery.
Whether it’s a father of the bride’s speech, a groom’s speech or the best man’s speech the basic principles on delivery are the same.
Timing – How long should a wedding speech be?
The perfect speech runs to approximately 7 minutes. Once you have written your speech practice saying it aloud and then edit as needed.
There are a lot of wives tales and bad advice about how to deal with nerves, “Just picture your audience naked.” Really?!? Do you want to be giving a wedding speech with the images of a naked Auntie Doris floating through your mind? Probably not.
Here are some real tips from the pros.
Eye Contact – Professional singer and stand-up comedian Zac Bauman whose performed at hundreds of weddings says “Making eye contact is vital. Whenever you face an audience it is essentially a conversation with them. When talking to someone you look them in the eye, it’s the same with an audience or speech. Looking someone in the eye shows confidence and allows you to make a connection. Seeing someone smiling back also gives you the confidence to carry on.”
“If they are laughing back great. If they are pointing at your flies, you might want to check ‘em.”
Rehearse – “If you know your material and are confident of your lines you have one less thing to worry about.” Says presenter and actor Taylor Murphy. “Rehearsing your speech out loud over and over again will help you remember more of it. That way when it comes to the big day you won’t have to rely on just reading it from the page as you’ll have a better idea of what’s coming next.”
Breathing – It might sound crazy but regular breathing can make a real difference. People often say “Take a deep breath…” to calm someone’s nerves and singers and actors perform breathing exercises before going on stage, the biology behind this is that it helps supply oxygen to the brain, regular calm breathing lowers your heart rate which in turn helps reduce the adrenalin causes of nerves. Mindtools.com says “Adrenalin causes you to breathe shallowly. By breathing deeply your brain will get the oxygen it needs and the slower pace will trick your body into believing you are calmer. It also helps with voice quivers, which can occur when your breathing is irregular.”
Dutch Courage – No matter how tempted you are drinking really doesn’t help. Firstly while you might feel more relaxed it can actually dull the senses so you won’t notice that you’re not actually on top form but your audience might. Alcohol can also dry your mouth out which makes it more difficult to speak.
Plus no one wants to hear you slurring your speech before asking everyone to join in you in a rousing chorus of “It Was On The Good Ship Venus”.
Water – If nerves are causing your mouth to go a bit dry then have a glass of water handy, however try not to take too many sips as this will show the audience you’re nervous and that will only make them nervous too.
Eye’s up! If you are a nervous speaker try not to hide behind the page, it can be a comforting prop but remember to make eye contact. Better yet use cue cards as these are much easier to hold and can be scanned at a glance so there’s no worry of losing your place on the page.
As much as possible it’s best to use your written speech as reference notes rather than reading word for word as this will make your speech more personal and connect you to your audience. It will also make you appear more relaxed and confident.
- Cue cards are a really handy way of writing your speech down, you can bullet point your speech and use the cards merely as a reference to keep you on track. They are also easier to hold and less likely to shake if you’re nervous (trust us, a lightweight piece of paper is the first give away of the nervous speaker!).
- iPads. Just no! This isn’t a conference, no matter how much you like your gadgets don’t read a wedding speech off an iPad or tablet, you’ll risk looking like a iTool.
- Power point presentations. See above.
- Videos. Having a well shot video can be great, however get it wrong and it’s excruciating. Good videos are well written and well planned out weeks in advance, throwing together some hastily put together, badly edited video will end up looking like a hastily put together, badly edited video.
You’ll find a great example of a wedding video on our Best Man’s Speech page.
It’s vital you know your material. Stand up comics spend week’s honing their set so it’s absolutely perfect so take the time to get to know yours.
Standing in front of a mirror might sound a bit vain but it will give you an idea of what you’re doing with your hands while speaking and seeing yourself performing will give you more confidence.
Find a willing volunteer who will act as your sounding board/audience prior to the wedding and read it to them to get some feedback, all advice can be really useful.
If you’re struggling to write your speech then help is at hand with our Wedding Speech Writer App which is loaded with thousands of jokes, icebreakers, introductions, toasts and wedding quotes.
It’s simple to use and you can have your entire speech written in one sitting.
The app has been put together with the help of pros with years of experience writing and performing comedy on stage, screen and TV and is loaded with top tips as well as everything else you’ll need to write a truly memorable wedding speech.