Since graduation, you’ve gotten over pimples, bad hair days and bad boys, (sort of) so why should the prospect of public speaking still make your hands twitch and your speech stutter? You’ve come a long way - it’s time to rise above those nerves and to the occasion, and deliver a charismatic speech using your individual strengths as the backbone, and your love for the newlyweds as the heart.
Now, chances are at some point or another you’ve been witness to both smart, funny, captivating speakers, and those who bomb- inducing some serious, audience-wide cringing. You’re aiming to land somewhere in that first group of course, so read the suggestions below and blow that wedding party out of the water with your engaging persona, and maybe squeeze a tear or two out of your newly-hitched loved-one.
Make a list of heart-warming anecdotes and laugh-out-loud moments you’ve shared with the bride. Jot down her quirks, her favorite expressions- all the little idiosyncratic details that define her essence (like her obsession with ceramic-cow milk dispensers.) Give yourself ample time to complete the list, as we tend to draw serious blanks when handed pen and paper and are expected, on command, to remember the gut-busting stuff. Once you’ve let it pile up over a few days, weeks, whatever, narrow the list down to the most captivating, relevant and bride-specific anecdotes you’ve got. Test them out in front of a mirror and anyone else who will listen. Pick the quip/story decreed most interesting, most concise and best-delivered by you. Once you’ve written the introduction, you’ll have set the tone, allowing the middle and end to roll and flow onto those cue cards with ease.
The best thing to do here is to strike a balance by sharing funny, (slightly) embarrassing quips about the bride, while conveying that it’s these exact habits or “faults” that make her so aw-shucks endearing to you. If your comedic timing isn’t stellar, don’t feel the pressure to turn this into a comic routine- get a quick laugh at the beginning with an anecdote you’re confident will kill, and once the audience approval calms your nerves, go straight for the sweet stuff. On the other hand, if you consider yourself a regular comedienne, then work it- the best man doesn’t always have to steal the show with his crude stag party stories- keep it clean, but keep them giggling. And always take the audience into consideration. Fearlessness has its place at the bachelorette party, but when granmums and younglings are present, it’s best to tone down the dirty.
Introduce yourself (with flair) and make a few speedy thank yous before moving on to the good stuff.
Instead of paper, use cue cards, because a shaky hand will be less obvious without the crinkly, wrinkly sounds.
Quotes. They’re a great way to get over that classic cat-got-your-tongue syndrome, but instead of searching for a stock saying about marriage, try finding a quote by an artist, actor, writer or anyone the bride admires concerning love, happiness or living life to its fullest.
Ditto goes for poems. These should be more than just “filler-” find something you know will appeal to the bride, so if this means reciting a goofy limerick from her childhood, (especially if you two go a long ways back) a witty contemporary verse, or a quote from Shakespeare- it’s all poetry to our ears.
Keep the speech between 3-5 minutes. These days, people’s attention spans are short- accommodate accordingly.
Practice makes perfect and nothing brings on butterflies quite like hitting a blank, so memorize your speech (in the mirror!) over and over and over again.
Project that pretty voice!
Don’t mention past relationships. No matter how awful they were, no matter how little they compare to her relationship with the groom, no matter how relived you are the bride didn’t end up with that Mr. Wrong, don’t do it.
A little bit of heartfelt “cheese” is definitely in order, as long as it’s completely genuine. But do stay away from cheesy clichés, as this will cheapen your sincerity.
One drink to calm your nerves, max
You want your speech to be personal, but make sure it’s accessible as well – don’t recount those inside jokes that exclude everyone but the bride.
As tempting as it seems, don’t download speeches off the internet. Sincerity is your number one priority, because it will be the bride’s number one tearjerker, not half-baked, semi-witty, marriage-mocking jokes.
Really, the best thing you can do is focus on your happiness for the bride. If you have fun gushing about your best bud on paper, then others will have fun listening to you recite it!