How To Deliver a Great Speech

All the guests are laughing as the Best Man delivers his speech

Unless you’re made of circuit boards, and have an ultra fast processor where your heart should be, you’re probably feeling a little worked up about the prospect of delivering a speech. Most of us don’t have to communicate in that way, and if we do we’re usually extolling the virtues of whatever it is pays our wages. So, whilst we’re happy to talk about refinancing schemes, irrigation systems and the best way to achieve nirvana through home insurance policies, we’re not usually doing it to entertaining. And if your wedding speech isn’t entertaining, you may as well read out the breakfast buffet menu. At least one or two people will have a genuine interest in what you’re saying.

So, you’re going to be nervous because you’re out of your comfort zone, all eyes are on you, and for the first time ever you’ve got to make people laugh…and yes, that includes grooms. Any groom planning on making their speech without a good dollop of humour, should really think again. Being nervous means your hands are going to shaky, which in turn means papers if you have them will flap around all over the place. It also means your mouth will become very dry, very quickly, and you’ll be a little sweaty and slightly short of breath. These are all things that can be dealt with.

  • Firstly make sure your speech is backed on to a book, folder or lectern – anything to stop the papers from moving around.
  • Have a huge glass of water nearby, the heavier the better. A small glass in shaky hands can look like there’s an earthquake.
  • Go easy on the alcohol. Too much and the sweating will start to become an issue.
  • Stay away from too much caffeine as this will increase the heart rate and affect breathlessness and sweating.

But then comes the issue of how to go about actually delivering it. Should it be cards, reading form sheets or memorising the whole thing? Well, this all comes down to what your strengths are and how much time you’ve got on your hands. My advice is don’t tie yourself up in knots trying to memorise it, it’s the shortest route to getting sectioned you can think of. With so much on your plate you want to keep things really simply and straightforward and there’s nothing wrong with reading directly from a sheet. You just have to keep the following mind:

  • Loads of eye contact.
  • Loads of pauses
  • Print it out in a really large font

Cards seem like a great idea but if you have a wobble on the day, things can come crashing down in a matter of seconds. Also many speeches rely on specific words to make a sentence funny, if you miss those out, then there will be some blank faces instead of thigh slapping laughter. Some guys can memorise it, particularly those in sales industries where they’re used to that sort of presentation. But if it’s not your thing, then don’t give yourself a hard time about it.

Always use a microphone, and if drinking is your thing then have a couple of gentle drinks in the run up to the speech. Whatever you do, don’t see the end of the speech as the final goal, for having fun, as there’s an overwhelming tendency to rush things and get it over and done with and have the first beer. Avoid that at all costs.

Relax and remember everyone is on your side, and by the time you’ve finished, you’ll wish you could go and do it all again.