How to Nail a Wedding Speech

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When I mention I'm getting married in conversation over the past couple of weeks, inevitably, my speech is the first thing that crops up...

'I bet your speech is going to be amazing'
'I can't wait for your speech'
'There must be an added pressure for you giving your speech as a public speaking coach.'

All said with the best of intentions, but I'm not going to lie, a couple of years ago they would have really messed with my head. One of the biggest misconceptions that people have about me is that because I’m a public speaking coach, I must be a great public speaker.

It's an expectation that I've really struggled with particularly in the first few years of running the business and I've spent a significant amount of time exploring in therapy. The build up to this speech - possibly the most important one that I'll make in my lifetime, has highlighted to me how far I've come in learning how to manage those expectations.

I can honestly say that I am 0% nervous and 100% excited. Here's why:

  • I'm clear on my purpose - my job isn't to be a great public speaker, it's to show people that I care.
  • I'm prepped - I practice it every time I go for a walk (I put my AirPods in so I can at least try to give the impression that I'm on a call)
  • But perhaps most importantly of all...I understand that to do and to coach are two completely different skillsets. 

    Hopefully there is a lesson in there for everyone that doesn't have 'professional public speaker' as a job title. Now I'm no professional wedding speaker, but regardless of your relationship with the happy couple, there are some principles that every great wedding speech should follow...

5 Top Tips

1. Your speech is a gift, not a roast 🎁

Your job is to make both (yes both!) the Bride and the Groom look like absolute legends. If your anecdotes don’t elevate their status, bin them and get back to the drawing board.

2. If like me, you’re not a natural-born entertainer, don’t try to be funny🎤

One of the biggest misconceptions about a wedding speech is that you’ve got to make your audience laugh. The reality is, everyone at the wedding wants you to nail the speech, they will laugh at anything, as long as it’s authentic. When I delivered my best man’s speech, I’ll admit it, I felt the pressure so put a couple of cliché one liners in there and they sunk like a rock. The audience will see straight through it - the things that really landed were those that I owned.

Top Tip: If you go into the speech not expecting any laughs from the audience you’ll always be pleasantly surprised. There is nothing worse than delivering a gag that you think is a dead cert and it falls flat, protect your ego.

3. 💯 % of your content needs to be accessible to 💯 % of your audience

Remember, there is likely to be 3 generations in the audience so choose your stories carefully.

4. Be inclusive 🙏🏻

A sure-fire way to get the guests on side is to bring them into your stories where possible. Mention some names that didn’t expect to get a mention and you’ll make their day.

5. Anecdote ideas 💡

  • When did you first hear about/meet the Bride/Groom’s partner?
  • What are some of your most memorable experiences with the Bride/Groom? If you can bring their family in here even better - nostalgia is gold dust!
  • How has the bride/groom changed you as a person? A great opportunity for some self-deprecation here - make them the hero.
  • When did you realise that they were perfect for each other?
  • What words of advice do you have for the couple?

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3 Public speaking tips a month to help you become a better leader