Nerves are a normal part of the speaking process, but nerves can also make you a sour note in an otherwise lovely event if left unchecked. When delivering a wedding toast, it’s normal for your hands to shake, your throat to go dry and your pace to quicken, but you need to be able to overcome this response if you want these few minutes to be remembered for the right reasons.
Very few people feel at ease when speaking in front of others. In fact, the body actually goes into a mild form of fight or flight during stressful situations. You might suddenly feel cold or shaky, and you may even stumble a bit in your speech. The key to avoiding this is by not viewing the situation as stressful, and you can do this by practicing frequently beforehand.
Start crafting your speech as early as possible. Create an outline immediately, and write notes about your speaking points. Over a few days, flesh out what stories you’d like to tell and any words you’d like to impart. Find out the length of your speech before you begin writing. Every page will take you roughly a minute, so keep the time in mind when you’re writing. If you aren’t sure what to write about, break your speech into three parts. Begin by introducing yourself and how you met your friends. This is an appropriate place to add a story. After that, focus on the couple. Talk about how they met each other and how you met them. Talk about their progression and what events led them to marriage. Finish by thanking the bride and groom and wishing them the best.
If you aren’t sure about the tone of the piece, ask around to find someone who has written a toast before. Ask them what they did to prepare. Don’t copy their methods, especially if they’re in the bridal party, but take their advice and adapt it to your own situation when you’re stuck. If you don’t know anyone who has given a wedding toast, think of people you know who have to speak often. These people may be in management or have some sort of position in the community like church leader or teacher. Ask them what they do to prepare for their speeches. If there’s a public speaker you admire, look up one of their speeches on YouTube, and pay attention to the way they deliver their speech.
Consider getting involved in an organization like Toastmasters. A driving force in leadership and communication, they can help you get on the right track and get comfortable with public speaking. While working with them, you’ll develop your confidence and learn about gauging audience feedback, how to maintain eye contact, how to adjust the pacing, tone and volume of your speaking, how to gesture effectively and how to deliver strong material.
Once your speech is written, practice, practice, practice. Use any free time to go over your speech, even if it’s in the shower or on the way to work. Record yourself giving the speech, and speak along with it. Practice delivering your speech differently by adjusting your tone, including pauses or even adding natural elements like laughter. When you play it back, you’ll be able to gauge how well your speech is coming along and make adjustments where necessary.
For Other Great Tips on Giving the Perfect Wedding Toast: The Perfect Wedding Toast: A Beginner’s Guide