People attend our workshops for many and varied reasons: to get more confidence, prepare for work presentations, to be able to answer impromptu questions clearly and concisely. One of the many reasons given is that they have to give a speech at a wedding.

Wedding speeches can be particularly daunting. Firstly because you are presenting in front of relatives and friends. People who know you. Our participants often tell us that speaking in front of people who know you is more nerve wracking than talking to a room full of strangers. You have to live with them, talk to them afterwards and if you make a mess it is going to come back over and over again – every dinner party or family get together. Think about it – I am sure you can relate to this.

Secondly, alcohol is involved – and alcohol and coherent, competent, concise speeches just don’t go together. Again I am sure many of you are thinking back to some speeches you have heard at weddings and are nodding your heads at what a disastrous combination this can be.

Often the person asked to give a wedding speech has never spoken in public before and for those who have, suddenly the reasons given above impact on their confidence and self belief.

So what can you do to ensure you shine when asked to give a speech at a wedding? Firstly – be prepared. Do some research on your subject – you are going to have heaps that you want to say but be ruthless – remember time. Wedding speeches can often go on and on and on. They can turn into rambling anecdotes that can soon turn your audience off. Check how much time you have to speak – write out your speech, rehearse it then refine. Keep the best anecdotes – one or two really good stories to highlight your message will be much more effective than 15 minutes of rambling.

I have said write out your speech. I feel this is particularly important for a wedding speech and especially for the novice speaker. A first time wedding speech is not the place to start doing your speech without notes. You needn’t make long notes – dot points will do. A written speech will keep you on track and ensure that you cover all the points you planned to. There is a great temptation to ad lib during a wedding speech – something about the environment and occasion often encourages the speaker to become verbose. This will lead to you going over time and can trigger the rambling virus. You have planned what you are going to stay – stick to it. Believe me the guests will appreciate a concise well presented speech, the bride and groom will appreciate it and the MC will appreciate it.

Finally, be aware of the impact alcohol will have on your presentation. If you know that you are going to give a wedding speech – hold off or minimise the drinking until after your presentation. You have put in the preparation and practised – you don’t want to spoil it by the effects of alcohol – mumbling, ad libing and rambling will ruin the presentation. Many inexperienced speakers will often fall back on the misguided belief that a bit of alcohol will calm the nerves. You may think it works –it doesn’t. What you get can be embarrassment and a rambling speech that is not effective. And, I am sure if you think back to some of the wedding speeches you have heard you will be well aware of what a disaster this can be.

It is an honour to be asked to present a speech at a wedding – you want to shine and appear confident, concise and competent. You can do this by following the points outlined above. Preparation and practise will give you the edge.

Come along to one of our One Day Public Speaking Workshops to give you the confidence and skill to deliver the speech the way you would like it to be delivered. Above all enjoy yourself – this is a happy occasion.

Trish @ Trischel

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