It is often stated that fear of public speaking is one of the greatest fears most people have. The thought of public speaking can induce great amounts of stress in some individuals. If that describes you and you have been asked to make a wedding speech, here are some tips and tricks that will help you get through the wedding speech just like you've been giving them your whole life.
Although anyone may stand up and give a wedding toast, there are a few traditional slots that have been reserved for members of the immediate family and wedding party. The immediate family speakers are the father of the bride, father of the groom, mother of the bride, and the mother of the groom, as well as the brothers and sisters of the couple. The wedding party gets in the act with the best man's wedding speech and the wedding speech by the maid of honor. (Some of the wedding speeches by the parents or siblings may actually take place at the wedding rehearsal dinner instead of at the reception in order to save time or allow excessively shy speakers to share their sentiments with a smaller, more intimate audience.)
There are two aspects of this concept that need to be examined in order to quell the speakers' fears. First, people are afraid that they won't know what to say because they don't know how to write a speech. There are plenty of "how to" books available as well as plethora of free wedding speech examples and samples out there.
One important caution about them is that you don't want to just copy one that you find in a book or on a website. The problem with doing that is that no matter how well the material is written, unless you are a professional actor, it is not going to sound sincere when someone else's words come out of your mouth. The best guides are those that ask guiding questions and help you shape what's already on your mind into the best form possible rather than putting words into your mouth for you.
The second aspect of the discussion is knowing how to give a speech properly or effectively. You're probably not trying to win a Tony Award for the Best Spoken Word so you shouldn't worry that you have to be "perfect" when standing in front of the guests. You just have to be natural and competent
Here are some specific tips to get you through the big moment.
If you have any physical reactions to standing up in front of the crowd such as feeling nervous in the pit of the stomach, sweating, or quick and shallow breathing, don’t worry about them. They are natural and prove that the occasion is important to you. By being aware ahead of time that these things may occur, you won't let them throw off your delivery or concentration during the toast.
Make sure your material is appropriate to the tone of the day and to the particular audience. Funny wedding speeches or copying famous ones from TV shows like Sex in the City or movies like Wedding Crashers might seem entertaining in the planning stages, but may not play so well with real audiences who will end up comparing your performance to the real one they remember from the media. (Unfortunately, your rendition of a comedian's act is going to pale in comparison to professionals who had multiple takes to get it perfect.) Also, be sure that humor is not offensive. Older speakers should be particularly aware of this as things considered funny a generation ago may now be considered highly inappropriate and offensive.
There are few things more boring than a speaker who looks down, reads, and mumbles through his or her lines. The best thing to do is read the material over multiple times to the point of memorization or near memorization. It's acceptable to look down at the notes, but use them for prompting, not word for word reference.