Whether you’re the groom, best man or father of the bride, the best way to conquer your nerves is with a strong and confident wedding speech introduction. This isn’t always easy, but there are a few tricks that can help you pull it off.
Smile and Make Eye-Contact
It’s amazing how friendly body language can disarm an audience. If you smile at someone they will usually smile back, and that’s worth a huge amount when you’re about to start speaking.
Try to Keep a Sense of Perspective
You may have been dreading this moment for months, but try not to let your imagination run away with you. This isn’t a political hustings or a million-pound pitch. You will be standing in a room surrounded by family and friends who want you to do well and who will be on your side.
Avoid Long Introductions About Yourself
Including a one liner in your wedding speech introduction about how you fit into the day is fine, but leave it there. Any longer is unnecessary and might make you feel self-conscious.
Explaining that you’re nervous, are having problems with the AV, have drunk too much Champagne, or that you have a sore throat will just re-enforce the impression that you are a nervous wreck.
Avoid Weak Jokes
A natural reaction for a nervous speaker is to try to ‘befriend’ the audience by beginning with a joke. However, humour is hard to pull off and might even offend people if done poorly. If you are shaking like a leaf it’s best to start off by being straight.
Make it Word Perfect
Know your wedding speech introduction off by heart. This is not the time to be glancing at your notes or wondering what comes next. It’s worth spending five times as long practising your first minute over and over again than anything that comes later.
Keep It Simple
Short, punchy sentences and easy-to-pronounce words and phrases are always a good idea, but if you are nervous they become an invaluable way of avoiding awkward stumbles and stutters.
Leave Surprises Until Later
Unlike a corporate speech, I recommend you leave surprises such as props, quotes and images until your wedding speech has warmed up.
Many a speech horror-story has stemmed from someone trying to drink their way through it. It might seem sensible when you stand up to speak, but I guarantee that it won’t when you wake up the next morning.
I hope this helps. Remember, everything you put into your wedding speech introduction will help keep the rest of the speech on track.
Guest post by Lawrence Bernstein of Great Speech Writing
Image from Anna Hardy Photography