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How To Deliver A Wedding Speech

How To Deliver A Wedding Speech

The Speechy team have worked in TV for decades, picking up the tricks of the trade from top presenting talent. Follow our guide to presenting like a pro, and you'll actually look forward to delivering your speech.

(*Of course, if you’re looking for more than ‘advice’, check out all the different ways the Speechy team can help you write & deliver a great speech. Or check out our new AI-powered team member, SpeechyAI.)

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Prepare to Deliver

1 – Mic up

There’s no use spending weeks slaving over your speech if no one can hear it. The acoustics in wedding venues are notoriously bad so test them out a couple of weeks in advance or get someone else to. Invest in a mic if the acoustics are questionable.

Make sure you position the ball of the mic below your mouth and point it towards your nose to avoid ‘popping’.

Remember if you’re using a mic there’s NO NEED TO SHOUT.

And, as expressive as you should be, try not to wave your microphone around like you’re anointing your audience or forget about it completely. A mic only works when you’re pointing it at your mouth!

2 – Memorise your speech (but use notes)

Practise your speech at every opportunity. If your memory’s poor the practice will help you get familiar with the flow of the speech. If your memory’s great, well then, you’re blooming lucky (and probably under 40).

Whatever the case, we advise using cue cards or notes. Why? Weddings are weird things. Wonderful, beautiful, amazing but weird. They’ve got the power to suck all logical thought from your brain and replace it with loved-up nonsense (in the case of brides and grooms) or an abject fear (in the case of the other wedding speakers).

Cue cards give you a comfort blanket and, if you use them right, they don’t need to distract from the speech. Give copies to at least one trusted mate to carry on the day and take comfort in the fact you have something written down. This is not one of those moments where people gather round you chanting ‘speech, speech, speech’ and you have absolutely nothing to say.

Print your speech onto posh paper (with a good thickness) or cue cards with the ‘page turns’ appropriately positioned for when you plan to take a pause or you expect laughter.

These days, a lot of people use a tablet or iPad to read from. This reduces paper-shake – but please don’t use your phone. It looks overly casual and people are now programmed to resent people looking at their phones in their presence. It makes it feel like you’re not quite in the room.

3 – Rehearse your body language 

It’s a biggie. As well as sounding relaxed, you need to look relaxed. An audience picks up body language cues.

You may have heard of the ‘power pose’ that Amy Cuddy brought to the world via her TED Talk in 2012. Can standing in a ‘powerful’ and expansive way really make you feel more assertive?

Well, subsequent studies suggest not, but hey, the basic idea makes sense… ‘fake it till you make it.’

Film yourself and check your posture.

  • Are your shoulders back?
  • Do you look relaxed?
  • Is your chin upwards and your head tilted towards your guests?
  • Are you using your hands?
  • Are you using facial expressions to full effect? Facial expressions can add an extra layer of humour so work on this. I want at least a couple of eyebrow raises in there.
  • Are you smiling? Other than any dearly departeds, we hope you are smiling throughout.

4 – Pace yourself 

The aim is to come across as eloquent, confident, and conversational.

For years, the Speechy website was advising speakers to slow down; that a more deliberate pace helps people sound more assured.  And for some people, that is the case.

Talking too fast is a big problem and we’ve heard too many speeches where it’s obvious that the speaker just wants to get through it and sit down again. Rushing your delivery makes guests feel uncomfortable and creates a nervous atmosphere for everyone.

However, once we started providing delivery coaching, we realised not everyone was challenged in the same way.  Turns out some people already talk at a leisurely, deliberate pace already, and slowing them down made their style seem robotic.

So, how do you strike the balance between authority and confidence, and sounding like you’re playing a podcast at half speed?

Well, what you’re aiming for is a conversational tone. You want the pace of a chat with your friends, anywhere between 130 and 170 words per minute.

Time yourself and check your pace. A great site to test your delivery speed is Readtime

Father of the Bride Toast Hitched Speechy Help

5 – Plan to pause

A conversational style includes pauses.

A pause is essential when you expect laughter, and you should never talk over it once it lands. Speakers often move on from the joke too quickly and don’t give their audience a chance to react.

When I delivered my wedding speech, I didn’t want it to come across as if I was lapping up the laughter so I gave my guests just a few seconds before launching into the rest of the speech. What a shame. Not only was I cutting short a great moment, I also ensured that my friends and family missed the first half of what I was continuing to say.

So, practise your pauses. And remember, they can be used to underline a sentimental thought too.

After each thank you, take a second to make eye contact and nod your head towards the person you’re addressing. After delivering a romantic line, take the time to look at your partner and smile. These moments can feel just as meaningful as the words themselves.

6 – Film & feedback 

Employ a trusted friend (or your partner) and make the rehearsal as realistic as possible.

Start by sitting, get them to introduce you and, if you’ll be using a microphone and notes on the day, make sure you’re using both in the rehearsal too (even if the mic is a hairbrush).

After they’ve given their feedback, push for more; at least one piece of constructive criticism.

Ask specifics to make the feedback as useful as possible…

  • Did I make enough eye contact?
  • How was my pace?
  • Were there any sections that lost you?
  • Did your attention dip at any point?
  • Did I smile enough?
  • How was my body language?

And here’s the crucial bit, once you receive their feedback, act on it. If they say they didn’t get your favourite line, work out why and change it.

And, when it comes to feedback, Alan Berg suggests you go one step further ‘If you really want to push yourself, rehearse in front of strangers!’.

On the Day

7 – Pretend to be confident

Adele, Stephen Fry, Megan Fox, and Michael McIntyre all suffer from stage fright. If those bad boys do, it’s natural us amateurs will too. Rest assured everyone’s nervous when giving a wedding speech.

The key is pretending to be confident. When it’s your turn to speak, stand up and smile. Look around the room. Make eye contact with people. Then smile again.

It’s amazing how contagious a smile can be. And, scientific fact, it actually tricks your body into believing you’re more relaxed than you are.

If you know you have a good speech on your hands, focus on conveying the humour and the sentiment to your audience. Imagine you’re reading a story to pre-schoolers. Drop all your pretensions and, instead, engross yourself in the story: the silly voices, the exaggerated facial expressions, the works.

See yourself as a conduit, a messenger of a story that is more important and more interesting than you. Don’t think about yourself but how you can get the best possible reaction from your audience.

8 – Avoid alcohol 

Lots of wedding speakers reckon a glass of alcohol calms the nerves, but it’s just wishful thinking. In fact, some research studies have shown that booze can actually increase the stress response.

Deep breaths are much more effective at reducing the stress hormones, though admittedly, not quite so fun.

Prior to delivering your speech, have a glass of water (to make sure you don’t ‘dry up’) and have a snack. An empty stomach isn’t good for nerves. It may be the last thing you fancy but stuff a handful of canapes down or have a Mars bar on hand.

9 – Look right

Make eye contact with the guests throughout your speech and look at the relevant person when you’re addressing them personally (for example, when you’re thanking them or telling them how chuffed you are that they married you).

10 – Direct your toast

When it comes to delivering your toast, people need a bit of direction.

Make clear if this is a personal toast (for example, the groom personally toasts his mum in the middle of his speech) by simply looking at the person it’s directed to. If you want the guests to join in a toast, you should look at the guests and tell them what to do, for example;

‘Please join me in drinking to the happy couple’ And then turn towards the person or people being toasted as you name them again: ‘To the happy couple..

The Speechwriting Experts

The Speechy team are TV-trained scriptwriters/comedians by trade & we’ve helped 1,000s of speakers around the world deliver their dream speech.

Our advice has been quoted everywhere from The New York Times to Grazia and from Forbes to The Observer. Our founder has also featured on the BBC Sounds’ Best Men podcast with Jason Manford and written ‘The Modern Couple’s Guide to Wedding Speeches’, published by Little, Brown.

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''I had an unbelievable experience working with Speechy. From the moment I got in touch with them I felt supported and come the day of my best mans speech, it went down a storm with a standing ovation.''
''Speechy deserves more than 5 stars. (They) produced a factual, funny Mother of the Bride speech with just the right amount of emotion..... it was ingenious. Thank you so much for the wonderful & priceless memory of having delivered my speech at my daughter’s wedding and nailed it ... and got a standing ovation too. My children were very proud of me, including my new son-in-law! ''
''These Guys are tremendous! One main point is that its not their speech - its yours! This is because it is based totally around what you would like to say, but its the spin that Speechy puts on it, that is the magical bit... Ordinary words become a hilariously entertaining event. There were giggles, applauds, laughs, tears, cheers and standing ovation – all in that order!''
''Feeling anxious or stressed about an upcoming speech? Look no further than Speechy... I just delivered my Best Man speech this past weekend and absolutely crushed it. I was nervous leading up to the moment, but while delivering my speech, I didn't want the experience to end, the room was hooked, and laughing at every joke. Worth every penny... Thank you!''
''Navigating through the wedding industry often feels like you’re stuck on a conveyer belt....Speechy is the complete opposite. They treat you and your wedding like you’re the one and only. I couldn’t recommend them more.''
''Heidi and the whole team at Speechy are an absolute gem! In addition to their talent and extensive experience in speech writing, Heidi had an impressive way of listening to me talk about mine and my partners personal anecdotes, before putting it in such a funny and beautiful way that it felt as though she’d known us for years.''

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