1. Heartfelt over funny, any day. Unless you are a professional stand-up comic or a writer for SNL leave the funny to the well, funny people. More often than not, speeches that are written with the intention of being funny, just aren’t. Comedic delivery takes very specific timing and well-written jokes. If you can’t write or deliver in this department, don’t attempt to be funny. Worse yet, you could come off as insulting or offending even though you’re just kidding. It’s best to speak from the heart and let your own personality shine through. Funny speeches tend to come from naturally funny people. If you are one, then let it fly.
2. Short and sweet. Seems obvious, right? Well, if you are having 3 or 4 people giving toasts (plus a blessing) and each one is about 5 minutes, that can add up to more than 20-minutes of a 4 hour party. That’s a big chunk of time considering how much the host has paid for such an affaire. A good speech length is about 3 minutes. If you’ve never spoken in public before you will quickly find out that 3 minutes can be an eternity when your standing in the spotlight. And If you’re an experienced speaker 3 minutes can seem like nothing making it very easy to get long-winded quickly. So, it’s important to write something in the 3-4 minute range and rehearse it. The guests will praise and thank you later while you’re standing at the bar or in the bathroom.
3. Stand still. Good videographers will add a small and very strategic amount of lighting to the ballroom to make you look like a rock-star when standing up to give your speech. If you walk around and “play-the-room” it will be very difficult to keep you in-focus and capture the speech creatively. Someone should direct you where to stand. Please stay in place and soak up the spotlight. Without getting into the technical reasons why, If you start wandering there’s no guarantee you will come out looking good in the photos or video.
4. Don’t use your phone or god-forbid, an iPad. Unless you would like your face to glow blue while the rest of the room looks more natural in-tone. Instead, use index cards to guide you through your speech for a more classy look.
5. Hold the mic up to your mouth. If you are handed a microphone, it’s for a reason. No one can hear you without it. For a microphone to work effectively it must be close to your mouth. Holding a microphone down by your chest or waist can cause feedback through the speakers and weak sound for the room and for the video. Hold the mic 2-3 inches from your face for the best result and to avoid hearing people shout that they can’t hear you.
6. Practice, practice, practice and don’t overdo the liquid courage. Being confident in what you plan to say will make you far more prepared than what any whiskey or tequila would. Know your speech well and put in the time and effort to rehearse it and live up to the honor of being asked to say “a little something.” Don’t rely on Jack Daniels to get you through. Jack Daniels isn’t a public speaker, he’s a drunk.
7. If in doubt of your speech-writing/giving abilities, hire a pro. If it terrifies you to get up in front of a room-full of people and wedding vendors and speak, there’s no shame in passing on the honor. If you feel obligated or are in a position where returning the favor is appropriate there’s a service that helps you to write and can coach you on speech. Visit 1 for more information. Just remember, what comes out of your mouth when giving your speech with echo throughout time and be forever captured on video. Keep it classy and have fun. Be genuine and your speech will be memorable in a good way.