How to Nail Your Speech 101

What an honor to be giving a speech!  It’s understandable to be a little nervous.  Speaking in front of an audience can be daunting.  Whether you’re speaking at wedding reception, shower, or rehearsal dinner, no need to fret!  Here are some useful ways to help you prepare a tasteful toast by keeping it short and sweet.


Photo Credit: Apricot Cafe, Flickr

Get the Audience’s Attention

  • Introduce yourself to the crowd.  Stand up straight, make eye contact, and project your voice.  It might take a while to get everyone’s attention, but remain confident!  You can also add a nice touch by thanking the bride and groom for hosting such a lovely and special occasion.
  • Take a deep breath before you start speaking to calm any nerves.
  • Remember to smile!

Plan Ahead

  • To make sure the speech runs smoothly, practice, practice, practice!  Talk in front of a mirror or to another person.  If you practice in front of a small audience, ask for their honest feedback.
  • Create notecards if you need help memorizing topics.
    Share a funny or sentimental story that shows your relationship with the bride and groom.  Speak from the heart and you can’t go wrong.  Usually funny stories help capture the audience’s attention and keep them engaged.  100% sentimental stories tend to be a bit humdrum.
  • The story should have a beginning, middle, and end.  A good idea would be to start with an opening line and at the end of the speech, circle back to the first idea to complete the story.
  • Remember to talk about the couple, not just the bride or groom.   Even if you’re closer to one of them, it’s important to acknowledge both guests of honor.

Photo Credit: Phil Hawkworth, Flickr

Share a Story

Get Personal, But Not Too Personal

  • The MOH or Best man should reveal to guests what they didn’t already know, but would want to know.  Share a quality or something you’ve learned about the bride or groom through your years of knowing him or her.  Something like “she always said she would never end up with a foreigner, and look where she is now!”
  • Don’t share embarrassing personal stories, bring up old flames, or tell too many inside jokes.  Telling the tales of what happened during Spring Break that one year is best saved for the Bachelorette Party.  Making your speech funny is a wonderful touch, but don’t go overboard.

Photo Credit: Ted and Jen, Flickr

Keep It Short

  • Don’t go on, and on, and on… Keep the speech at about three minutes.  Five minutes is the maximum.
  • Remember that several people will be making a toast that night.  You don’t want the audience to get squirmy and stop paying attention.

End With a Sincere Wish

  • You are toasting the newlyweds! So end your speech with something sweet that will allow the audience to raise their glasses to the bride and groom.  Say something like “May the two of you always be as happy and in love as when I first saw you two together.”   This will leave the speech on a heart-felt note, which is what the audience will remember most.

Photo Credit: Mallory Matson, Flickr

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