If you are writing your own speech here are a few pointers that are worth bearing in mind:
Read your speech or memorise it?
Don’t trust everything to memory. Brief notes on cue cards can help you out just in case you can’t remember everything on the day. If you don’t need them that’s great, but this is a good way of having a little safety net! If your memory fails you no-one will mind you referring to your cards.
Practice your speech.
Whatever your speech – rehearse it. If you have a friend who can listen to you rehearsing then get their help – they may have ideas about the content and also about your delivery – don’t be embarrassed and take on board what they say. Then rehearse it again – until you are very, very bored with it! (Then rehearse it a bit more!!)
Slow It Down!
Even if you are nervous resist the temptation to speak too fast. This is one of the most common mistakes made with all forms of public speaking and won’t allow for the points you are trying to make an impact with. Allow enough time for your audience to understand jokes or points you are making.
Even if you are a nervous wreck hold your head up high and if you can look like you are enjoying yourself – confidence will make people pay more attention to your speech! Make eye contact where you can to make your speech more personal to your audience and don’t forget the day is about the bride and groom so the attention won’t be solely on you. Before speaking take slow breaths to help reduce nerves if you need to.
If you expect a laugh, try waiting for it. If it doesn’t arrive tell people they were meant to laugh and refuse to continue until they do, hopefully this will get them going. Wait until the laughter has died down – enjoy it and let your audience enjoy it! Try studying professional comedians – you’ll learn a lot and you can pretend in front of your partner that watching Lee Evans is vital research (so Eastender’s/Football will have to wait).
If you get interruptions during your speech try to enjoy them, especially funny ones. They will give you thinking time, and people will remember the humour of your speech even if it wasn’t you that got the laughs!!
Not a good idea however much you feel you need it. You have a responsibility and far too many speeches at weddings over the years have been slurred. Stick to one drink (no – this does not include a pint of vodka as one drink).