That special day has finally arrived. As you stand up to deliver your speech, you gently tap the side of your glass invitingly. Heads turn in your direction in a flurry and the anticipation is electric! It’s your time to shine and you need to make a powerful first impression.
Rewind several weeks prior and you have likely been staring into the mirror wondering; “how am I going to deliver the perfect wedding speech?” Maybe you’re the Best Man/Woman; practising punchlines to ensure that you make the most of this once in a lifetime opportunity to gently scorch your best friend. Perhaps you’re the Father/Mother of the bride; rehearsing tear jerker lines straight from the heart. Or perhaps you’re the bride or groom, longing to articulate that magical moment when true love first struck. Regardless of your role, you all want to speak with emotion and deliver your speech with emotion and authenticity when it really matters.
With that in mind, let’s review some techniques that will help you charm, delight and amuse in style. An eloquent speaker is someone who has mastery over how they use language. They understand it’s subtleties and nuances and can use it to communicate their message effectively and persuasively.
Keep calm and carry on!
Let’s address the elephant in the room. You’re feeling nervous! As the days draw closer, the anxiety looms ever-present. Firstly, relax. It is normal to feel nervous. You want to deliver your best performance. You want to make the day special. So naturally, you feel the pressure... the good news is this is a wedding speech, not an annual work performance review and its absolutely OK to use notes to deal with your nerves.
So have a glass of champagne and remember; everyone is here to have fun and everyone wants you to do well!
Dealing with your nerves
The first technique to dealing with your nerves is to acknowledge how you’re feeling. Try not to fight your feelings, or tell yourself you shouldn’t feel scared or to stop being silly. The more you get into conflict with your feelings the more you heighten them. Instead, relax and take a moment to note what is going on physically. Be curious. “My heart is beating faster than normal. My palms are sweaty.” Mindfulness helps tremendously here. Tell the nerves they are allowed to be there, but invite them to sit in the corner, they are certainly not going to get in the way of you making this day as special day as you can!
Use the floor to root you and the wall for support
As you stand up to speak, feel the weight of your legs and connect with the floor to ground you. Imagine the balls of your feet as the tripod supporting you, and stand strong. That will help you avoid swaying or pacing, telltale signs of nerves. For extra support, you can imagine you have a team of backing singers. Imagine them behind you, supporting you, as if they are there to help you fill the stage and project your ideas with confidence. Doing either or both of these will help you focus your energy on your body language and facial expressions.
Connect with your audience
When you stand up to address the crowd, take that first moment to connect with your audience. Look around the room. Make eye contact with people. And smile. This helps you and everyone else remember why you are there, the simple human connection of it all. It’s amazing how contagious a smile can be! Not only will you relax as you connect with others, this initial moment of connection helps set the tone for everything that comes next, and makes people feel connected and engaged.
Decide on your message
Before we deliver any speech it’s crucial that we have determined exactly what ideas we want to plant into the minds of our audience. Ideas are the root of communication. Decide what you want your audience to take away from your speech. This will help you speak with intention and deliver a much clearer and more focused speech that hits the apex of the point you are trying to get across. Ask yourself, what do I really feel about my future husband or wife/ best friend or daughter? What do I really want to say as I/ we/ they embark on this special journey?
And now for….The best man’s speech!
Ahh there is indeed a lot of pressure around this speech. Pressure to be funny, witty, revealing whilst not revealing too much. It is a mine field filled with laughter and potential embarrassment that can slip any minute into total cringe, and we have probably all been at weddings where the best man errs on the side of oversharing! So here are some best man tips to help you navigate the challenges of the role.
1. Tell a compelling story
Anecdotes are key to wedding speeches. For the Best Man speech, it’s important to be able to tell a story that ultimately shows the groom in his best light.
2. Keep it funny, keep it sweet
Comedy always has some moments in the middle where things go wrong, and then always culminates with a happy ending. Whilst touching on a few naughty escapades and quirky foibles is encouraged, it’s important to ultimately portray the groom in a good light. Avoid making him sound awful and desperate – this is never a good look! Having an antagonist present in your story to challenge his credibility is fun and keeps the narrative suspense throughout your anecdote, but ensure you don’t let it undermine his character.
3. Find his unique qualities, and then find their funny side
If you are struggling to get your funny stories or even know where to start, try listing out his qualities, those that make him unique. This could be uniquely wonderful, or annoying or a combination of the two! i.e. very tidy / very messy / very driven / sporty / wild / conventional. Several of his qualities will likely have a few stories associated with them, and many of those will likely have an amusing angle. So you can mine these for laughs if you want to. A nice way to conclude these stories is to think about how they are a perfect fit with his new wife. What is it about her qualities that compliment his, either in a funny or touching way?
A clever tip is to find a story that shows the funny side of the grooms unique qualities as well as the wonderful side of it. This allows you to unite the pair in an authentic but light-hearted manner, whilst concluding why they are a perfect match.
4. Finding your story structure
All these stories should have a beginning a middle and an end. Beginning is the introduction, i.e. what qualities you will explore, or a funny story that summarises the points you want to make. The middle is the detail, the stories and all the qualities or reasons they are great. The end is the conclusion – probably something about how great they will be together, why you love this guy and how you wish them well.
You’ve written it, you’ve rehearsed it and now you have to deliver it.
You’re more ready than you ever will be! Remember to stay calm and don’t lose sight of your objective; communicate, connect and make sure everyone is having a good time. It really is that simple. Having vocal charisma is about achieving mastery over the language so that when we communicate people listen, not because they have to, but because they want to. Following the tips in this blog will ensure you charm, amuse and delight on that special day. Good luck!