We’ve all sat through boring, bumbling or forgettable wedding speeches. But you don’t have to be a public speaking expert to deliver a knockout wedding speech that guests will remember for all the right reasons.
Whether it’s a best man speech, groom speech or father of the bride speech, firstly you need to decide what you’re going to say. (We have lots of brilliant speech templates and examples for each of the wedding party here, FYI).
Image: Foden Photography
Then you need to know how to deliver your speech.
From how to make the most of a heckle to the best body language, follow these nine simple tips for guaranteed wedding speech success.
1. Use Cue Cards
Image: Leslie Choucard Photography
Unless you’re a professional actor, it’s probably best not to trust the whole thing to memory - but reading out your speech can be really dull for guests to listen to. The best thing you can do is thoroughly familiarise yourself with your speech and then reduce it to a few notes on cue cards.
READ MORE: 21 Funny Introductions to the Best Man's Speech
Your speech won’t sound like it’s being read word-for-word but you’ve got enough prompts that you won’t forget any points. Win-win. No one knows what the whole speech is meant to sound like so don’t worry about missing a line!
2. Practice. Repeatedly.
Whatever your speech, rehearse it! Then rehearse it again and again until you’re sick of it. That’s the sweet spot.
3. Slow Down
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What ruins more speeches than anything else is a nervous speaker going too fast. They don't pause to let the points sink in and don't wait for the laughs. And the audience is so busy trying to catch what you’re gabbling about that they don't have time to laugh. No laughs = panic and accelerating even more.
READ MORE: What to Include in a Bride Speech
Even experienced speakers suffer the urge to speed up. Don’t give in to it, otherwise you’ve got a disaster on your hands. Slow and steady is how to deliver a wedding speech.
4. Think About Your Body Language
Stand up straight, take a deep breath and smile before you start your speech. It doesn’t matter how you feel, there are tricks that can make you look confident and get the audience on your side from the start.
READ MORE: The Ultimate Guide to an Amazing Groom's Speech
Even if you are reading, look up and at your audience from time to time. Eye contact makes them feel you are talking to them, and it will help you with your pauses. Use a few hand gestures and move around a little if you can (but don’t sway from side to side). Incorporate a prop if you feel more comfortable having something in your hand. And remember to smile!
5. Pause for Laughs
Image: Green Button Photography
If you expect a laugh - wait for it. If it doesn't come tell people they were supposed to laugh and refuse to go on until they do. It’s an excellent trick to save face that professional comedians use all the time. Don't begin again until the laughter has died down and just enjoy it while it does.
6. Relax Into Any Heckles
Enjoy interruptions, especially funny ones. They provide thinking time, and hey… people will remember it was your speech that got the laughs - they won't remember that it wasn't always your lines.
READ MORE: 5 Steps to Writing the Perfect Wedding Speech
Don’t stick so rigidly to your speech that you ignore what’s happening in the room; if someone has a sneezing fit or knocks over a wine bottle, turn it into a joke!
7. Be Sensible With Your Dutch Courage
Image: Owen Billcliffe Wedding Photography
Don't drink too much before speaking. You might think it helps, but your audience won't. Slurring is never a good look, especially if it gets caught on the wedding video.
8. Remember the Audience is on Your Side
They want to enjoy your speech so relax and give them the chance to.
READ MORE: 17 Emotional Quotes for your Father of the Bride Speech
Most will have had a few glasses of wine by this point anyway so they’ll be even more forgiving of a few fluffs.
9. If You Get a Totally Unexpected Laugh - Check Your Flies
Image: Creative Camera
Or your strapless dress, maids of honour. A quick once over in the mirror for spinach in your teeth won’t go amiss either. You'll feel much less nervous with all those eyes on you if you know you look your best.
READ MORE: The Order of Wedding Speeches Explained
These nine basic rules - plus our expert advice on overcoming wedding speech nerves - will help you deliver a brilliant wedding speech. But if you’re still not sure what you want to say, consider one of our brilliant speechwriters to help you come up with the perfect words.