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Father of the bride speech - the fear of public speaking

Whilst very few people relish the idea of public speaking…make that seems that wedding speeches provide the perfect storm when it comes to talking out loud in front of other people.

Firstly, there’s a requirement to be funny. Regardless of what some others may think, wedding speeches, in fact nearly every other speech, including eulogies, work all the better for having some comedy in them. Well placed original funny ideas and stories can not only entertain, but they will also balance out the more profound things you’re going to be saying, and that’s absolutely vital. If you stand up and treat everyone to a 7 minute emotional tsunami, it’s going to be a challenge for all concerned. Like it or not, it’s a speech that comes with a heavy focus on entertainment, and that brings a lot of anxiety for many speakers. Even the most seasoned of public speakers at work will have no requirement to make people laugh in their corporate communications, and the pressure to be funny en masse is considerable. If you don't do any standing up and speaking in your job, work alone, are retired, or are the type of person who likes to observe in the pub rather than lead the chat, then it’s an even bigger departure.

Then we have to consider who you’re talking to. At work, when you’re going through facts and figures this will be with colleagues you know and who will be very familiar with the subject detail. Weddings tend to fall into a mix of a lot of people you’re incredibly close to, and a lot of people you’ve never met before the big day. Whenever I’m writing speeches for clients, there’s an even split about which group they find it most difficult to address. Some find the idea of talking in front of people they’re really close to, very intimidating, whilst others think that standing up in front of strangers is far more daunting.

The pressure for making a father of the bride speech comes with an extra notch because you’re the first one up, and it’s your job to kick things off. Get it right, and everyone will be excitedly anticipating the next speech, get it wrong, and the very least you can expect is to have to wake half the guests up, and the apologise to the other half. To put this into perspective, I spoke to a father of the bride today, who is successful, articulate and regularly addresses his many employees, who said if he could pay me to actually present the speech, he would gladly do it.

In order to soften the blow there are some important things to remember, and the first one is: everyone wants you to succeed. Nobody is looking for you to falter, or to have a speech they enjoy taking apart at their leisure. So, remember that when you stand up, they’re on your side before you’ve said a word, and it doesn't get any better than that in the world of public speaking.

Secondly, it’s just a few minutes. It might seem like a lifetime, but it goes past in a flash, and you’ll have plenty of time to reflect on how it went. You’re going to be playing your part in an amazing celebration, and the speech makes up less than 1% of that total time, so in the grand scheme of things, you probably spend longer queuing at the bar.

People are nervous about public speaking for a variety of reasons, but the main one is that they don't have any confidence in what they’re about to say; and that’s the easiest one to mitigate, because it just means you have to get started early, hone your speech and spend a good chunk of time learning it. If you leave it to the last minute, it will only seek to make everything much more of a headache than it needs to be, and nobody landed a great speech whilst completely stressed out.

However, maybe the most effective thing you can do is to look at this from a different angle. If you’re focussing on your nerves and trepidation, then you’re really missing the point; this whole day is about the bride, and she deserves somebody to let everyone know how amazing she is with a great speech.

Written By
Adrian Simpson
26 Feb, 2024
  • Judins
    East Sussex
    TN19 7LA

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