If you’re like most people, the thought of giving a wedding speech may send your anxiety skyrocketing. Whether you’re the father, mother, best man, maid of honor or even the bride or groom, you want to deliver a stellar speech. Rest assured that with enough preparation and thought, you can bring your ‘A’ game to the microphone. Here are the top five elements every wedding speech should have:
1. Structure. Every speech needs an introduction, a middle and a closing. No exceptions. This seems fairly straightforward, but think about how many times you have sat through a speech that was disorganized or rambling. Your introduction can be as simple as saying who you are and your relationship to the guest of honor. It should communicate how you feel about being part of the celebration (e.g., pleased, honored, joyous) and set up what you are going to address in your talk. The middle part should include more substantive material— personal stories and anecdotes that paint a picture of the guest of honor. Funny and heartwarming stories that exemplify a person’s character or set up a theme you want to introduce will help your speech come alive. The closing should be a meaningful way to wrap up the speech. Whether it’s a word of congratulations or something a bit more creative is up to you.
2. Balance between humor and heartfelt. Infuse your speech with a nice balance of humor and sentimentality. Just remember that humor should not cause the guest of honor embarrassment or reveal a secret that most people don’t already know. And when it comes to heartfelt, use it to genuinely communicate how you feel about the guest(s) of honor. The only possible exception is if you are not an overly expressive person, you may not want to lay it on too thickly.
3. Personality. Don’t forget that the speech should reflect your personality. If you are typically funny or witty, make sure that your speech is too. If you are a person of few words, make your speech short and to the point. Put simply, it should sound like you.
4. Connection with audience. When you’re selecting your material, think carefully about how this information will resonate with the audience. Don’t pick obscure stories or inside information to share with the guests. Instead, highlight information that everyone in the room, regardless of age, gender or length of relationship with the guest of honor, will appreciate. Make eye contact with friendly faces in the audience and don’t forget to smile.
5. Time limit. Great special occasion speeches have a time limit. You can allot three to five minutes for your speech. Anything longer and you will lose people’s attention. Say what you want to say and gracefully let everyone return to the party.
Stick to these elements to make your speech one to remember and not one you wish to forget.
Contributed by Holly Blum. Holly is the owner of A Speech To Remember. As “The Word Whisperer” she collaborates with clients to create professionally-written, customized speeches and toasts for weddings and other special occasions.