1) Be heard - you can prepare the best speech in the world, with so many jokes, anecdotes and touching reminiscences your listeners should be laughing and wiping tears away in equal measure, but it will count for nothing if the guests can't hear you or understand what you are saying, Speaking clearly and audibly are of tantamount importance.
2) Time - a good speech should be around 5 to 7 minutes long. Less than 3 and it seems you have nothing really to say, more than 10 and you run the risk of losing your audience's attention. Use a stop watch (or "app" of same) and time yourself. Remember, on the day your speech will not run the same length as it does in the solitude of your bedroom; comments and other interruptions will slow it down, nerves may make you speak faster.
Top 5 tips on performing a great wedding speech
3) Stay calm - it is easier said than done, I know, but getting your nerves under control will help you pace your speech, control your voice and enjoy the responses. One way to achieve this is do some simple breathing exercises before you have to get up: slowly breath in for a count of 6, hold it for 2, then breathe out for a count of 6, for about a minute beforehand. This will level off your blood flow, steadying your heart, and provide plenty of oxygen to your brain to keep you focussed.
4) Eye contact - Making the guests feel included in your speech has a marvellous effect on their responses to what you say. Now, catching the eye of your mates etc can be off-putting, especially if you have some "rugby club" type friends who will consider it great fun to distract you by pulling faces etc, so you just want them to "think" you are making eye contact. In most reception venues the distance between the wedding party table and the guests' tables is enough that you can look at each table, perhaps look at the central decoration or each plate on the table, from those close to you to the ones at the far end of the room, and each person at that table will think you have glanced at them. They will feel included in your speech and you avoid that aspect of nerves caused by feeling judged.
5) Enjoy yourself!
Seriously, you have worked hard on preparing the speech. The contents are things which various guests and family will remember and respond to. All too soon your speech is over, the spotlight is on somebody else, and you will never have the opportunity to share your thoughts like that again, so seize the time and be the centre of attention for a few minutes. Be confident in what you are sharing and don't be afraid to laugh or cry with the rest of those assembled. You are making this day special for the happy couple - and , Groom, you are letting everybody know how much this special lady means to you - so feel what you are saying and enjoy it. You will shine!
Regarding the speech writing itself, nobody can tell you what you should say. Yes there are thousands of books on speech making and jokes to include, but only you know what you want to say. Only you know the things that are appropriate to share, and that show your feelings for the bride and groom. So, just speak from the heart.
However, regarding the 5 points above, I can help you with them. In our workshops you will learn the breathing techniques, ways to focus your voice so you can be heard and techniques for feeling comfortable during you time facing the guests. We have all been to weddings where people at the back have had to lean to their neighbour and ask "What was that? What are they laughing at?", because only the front tables caught the mumbled or too rapid comment. Even with microphones many speeches are not as successful as they should be. People seem to think the microphone is a magic wand that will transmit their voice to everyone no matter how they speak. Recently I was at a wedding where the best man held the microphone as he had been instructed by the DJ, but half of what he said was lost because, even though the mic was held against his chest just below his jaw, whenever he turned his head the thing didn't pick up his voice. Then the groom had the issue of the microphone cutting out every few seconds (we suspect he was accidentally clicking the switch with his little finger) so that caused him to lose his flow and become a little flustered. It would have been far better for him to have dropped the mic and just projected his voice to the guests using the techniques we will teach you.
So, whether you have the promise of a sound system or not, the workshops we offer will be indispensable to you. Firstly because we will teach you how to enunciate and project your voice without shouting so that everybody can hear you clearly. Secondly we will teach you techniques to control your breathing, which will help you stay calm and pace yourself. Then we will help you "include" all the guests through some rehearsals of your speech, and finally you will feel confident with your performance, able to enjoy it yourself, so that on the big day, you will make the Bride and Groom proud!
To book your place on one of our Vocal Projection workshops, just click the "BOOK" tab above. If you would like an individual session, or you would like to arrange for your wedding speakers to have a private session, just click the contact tab and we can discuss your requirements. Whether you decide to take advantage of the workshops or not, I wish you luck for the big day!