One of the more dreaded components of the wedding breakfast is the point where glasses are tapped, the room quietens down, and some of those closest to the happy couple are invited to stand, microphone in hand, and deliver some words of wisdom.
It’s a prospect that might give you crippling anxiety attacks. But if you’ve committed yourself to giving a speech to a roomful of people, then it might be time to stop worrying about it and start preparing. Even if you’re not Stephen Fry, you should be able to get through the thing with just little bit of practice. Who knows? You might even find that you’re able to transfer some of the skills you pick up to the rest of your life.
Let’s look at a few of the best pieces of advice – as well as a few others that simply won’t die.
You have a microphone, so you don’t need to shout. In fact, if you’re shouting, then people are probably going to be irritated rather than enthralled. You can command attention with a normal speaking voice.
Don’t Imagine the Audience Naked
It’s a longstanding piece of oratory advice – just imagine everyone stripped down to their underwear, or a bit further. The idea here is that, if the audience is humiliated, then they’ll be in no position to laugh at you. But this is just a little bit silly, and, let’s be honest, slightly weird. It’ll only make you more anxious, if anything.
You’re not a rock star and you’re not a CEO giving a keynote; you should stand still, speak, and then sit down again.
Don’t assume the audience is hostile
The truth is that there are few audiences more forgiving than the one you’ll find at a wedding reception. It’s not a roomful of strangers, and most of the people there will be looking for a reason to like you.
Don’t be Coarse
A few jokes are expected, especially if you’re the best man. But the chances are that a few of your funniest anecdotes are going to be decidedly unpalatable, especially if there are young children in attendance. Find someone to test your stories on, and see whether they’re too spicy.
Don’t be afraid to tug on the heartstrings
A wedding speech is a chance to express some sincere and, dare we say it, profound, emotion. If you are witnessing the wedding of your closest friends or family members, then you’ve got a chance to say something about what it means. Don’t miss it!
Do Have a Plan
You don’t need to memorise an entire speech, but you do need to be able to fill the available time. Most people speak at between 125 and 150 words per minute. That’s no more than 1500 words for a ten minute speech. You’ll want to make a conscious effort to keep your delivery nice and slow and even – especially if you know you’re going to be nervous.