Diamonds are a beautiful component of a wedding celebration: they adorn a beautiful bride, they sparkle and glitter around the dance floor as the guests help a happy couple celebrate their love. But what about the speeches? Often, they can be compared to a rough diamond than a polished one! So here are some “dos and don’ts” tips on how to give a good speech or toast, whether you’re a Best Man at a wedding, or doing something more sombre like speaking at a memorial service.
- DO be yourself – keep it genuine and sincere. This holds true whether you’re at a wedding and can relate a nice personal story about the happy couple, or speaking at a funeral where you can share some fond memories of a loved one.
- DO keep it brief! There’s that old speech opener used by many: “As Henry VIII said to his wives, I won’t keep you long!”. 5 minutes is probably the right kind of time for most toasts/speeches; longer and you’ll risk your audience nodding off!
- DO read the room. Know your audience and adapt your speech to the type of event. A wedding where you know one spouse much better than the other isn’t the time for “inside jokes” that might leave half the room looking confused! On the other hand, an intimate dinner party where everyone knows each other can be the perfect opportunity to share a little inside joke that will mean something to everyone there.
- DO be positive. At a wedding, focus on something fun and happy about the couple: the story of how they met is usually a good one, or the proposal story.
- DO prepare and take notes. A bit of improvisation can be great and really effective, particularly at a wedding where a bit of humour is expected, but you should definitely have notes with you to guide you along the way unless you’re a very experienced public speaker.
- DO take it slow. Speaking too quickly risks tripping over your words and leaving people confused, so enunciate every word. Practising in front of a mirror can help!
- DON’T have too much “Dutch courage” before giving your speech! Yes, a glass of something to soften the nerves might be great, but don’t risk slurring your words!
- DON’T embarrass people. Even at a wedding, you probably don’t want to risk upsetting anyone in the room with an embarrassing story – remember, the wedding video is going to be there as proof for many years to come…!
- DON’T go beyond your remit. If you’ve been asked to give a short speech of introduction, don’t turn it into a toast where you get everyone to stand and raise a glass – the next speaker you’re introducing might have been asked specifically to do this.
- DON’T use foul language. Unless you’re at a small dinner party where you know everyone is happy to hear it, using swear words in a speech risks leaving people in a large crowd offended, so you’re best off keeping it clean!
- DON’T read your entire speech. Use notes to help you along, but don’t write out the whole thing and read it back in front of a crowd, this can seem lacklustre and you’ll lose your audience.
- DON’T be nervous! Remember, if you’ve been asked to give a speech or toast, it’s because you’re a valued person at the event. So everyone is on your side, nobody is there hoping you’ll give a bad speech! So you can relax and enjoy yourself.
Whatever event you’re speaking at, make it memorable, make it sparkle like a gem! 😊
Questions/comments? Please feel free to post!