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Tips from Caroline Frantl-Larsson on how to make your wedding speech more engaging, and what wedding guests should keep in mind
Wedding speeches are often nerve-wracking. From landing your jokes in a crowd who may have never met you before, to carefully choosing which hilarious anecdote to include and which to leave out, wedding speeches can be a minefield no matter how many times you're told to imagine the room naked. To help all those who have to 'say a little something' at upcoming celebrations, here are some handy tips and tricks to make sure your speech is a success.
You know that wedding speeches are often best performed when rehearsed, but you might not know how to start the preparation. First and foremost, set goals or what you want to accomplish with your toast, and then start to structure it. If you can, ask the bride and groom for some guidelines what are they expecting from you, what length, are props allowed, and are there any stories they would/wouldn't like for you to share. Also make sure to give yourself plenty oftime for writing the speech, and always look for additional tips and tricks. Blinkist (blinkist.com), a micro-learning platform and app, is a great source of non-fiction books to help you nail your speech. From Pitch Perfect: How to Say It Right the First Time, Every Time by Bill McGowan and Alisa Bowman, which gives you all the insight into effective communication, through to The Story Factor: Inspiration, Influence and Persuasion through the Art of Storytelling by Annette Simmons, which will make your anecdotes exciting and memorable, you will never be short of advice and inspiration!
DO NOT LIMIT YOURSELF
While there might be a more traditional way to write a wedding speech, there are by no means limitations to what you can do (as long as the bride and groom are on board). People are increasingly experimenting with creative methods to improve engagement with wedding guests, from stand-up comedy to games. A great way to engage with the audience is to involve the guests by including an interactive segment within your speech. Consider using a presentation tool such as Mentimeter (mentimeter.com), as it enables you to create a presentation with features such as quizzes, multiple choice questions and polls. You can use this to pose both serious and humorous questions to the audience about the bride and groom, and the wedding guests can use their smartphones to answer and share their thoughts in real-time. Not only will this ensure that the audience is engaged and responsive throughout your speech, but it can also help provide your speech with structure, and make it even more unique.
Feeling nervous before giving a speech is normal, but if your palms are sweating and you start seeing double, the speech you have spent so long practising may not get the delivery it deserves. Staying calm before and during the speech is easier said than done, but there are some things you can do to that will help. Firstly, consider staying away from the bar until after the speech has been delivered. You could also try removing your shoes: this may not be the most sophisticated move, but it has been found that feeling the ground beneath your feet can help to cool you down and keep you centred. If that doesn't work, David Brudö, CEO of the mental health and personal development platform, Remente (remente.com) suggests a three-step method. First, plan for a five-minute 'worry session' and let yourself feel the stress and all the emotions. Second, identify the worries that you are feeling (you will notice that some, maybe most, are not really all that significant). Third, accept that you are feeling this way, and tell yourself that you can pick up this notion of worry after the speech.
IF YOU ARE LISTENING TO THE SPEECHES...
In Sweden, you will normally have a three hour sit-down dinner with speeches inbetween courses. which means typically you can expect around five to 10 speeches. Alternatively, in the UK and the US, there might be only a couple of speeches, but they are often a bit longer. In other words, be prepared to buckle down and listen. Most speeches will include cute anecdotes and insights into the life of the bride and groom. If you are a plus one to a wedding, this is actually a great way to learn more about the people you're there to celebrate, as well as the other guests. However, sitting at a wedding reception might prove a bit tricky if you're attending a wedding that is in a different language from your own, but with international weddings becoming more and more common, you'll probably find yourself in this situation at one point or another. In these cases, consider using apps, such as the language learningapp, Babbel (babbel.com) to prepare yourself. Familiarising yourself with the language will prevent you from looking confused for the duration of the speech, and will help you understand the keyphrases (and the overall meaning!) of the speech.