So, in sticking to the Wedding Toast’s theme, and since we already covered the tips on writing your toast, we know that that is only half the work. The harder chore is delivering the wedding toast. Since so many people have a bit of stage fright when it comes time to get up in front of the mic to deliver a wedding toast (or speech) we have called up our expert expert Tom Haibeck again, for the Top Ten Tips on Delivering a Wedding Toast.
Talk to the Bride and Groom well in advance of the wedding to determine things like how many guests will be in attendance, what the venue is like, whether a sound system will be in place, who will introduce you (if anyone, how many other people will be speaking and at what point in the reception will the toasts take place (ask if there is a written agenda available).
Use Point-Form Notes
If your speech is written out word-for-word, chances are you will read it word-for-word (and wind up sounding stilted and boring). Use 3×5” index cards to record “speaking points” – then use that outline as a guide to help you expand upon those thoughts during your toast. That process will enable you to speak more naturally (and conversationally) to the audience.
Rehearse Rehearse Rehearse
Practice makes perfect. Once you have written your toast and are comfortable with what you’re planning to say, start rehearsing it. Practice in front of a mirror. Practice in your car on the way to work. Practice in the shower. And hone your talk.
Three to Five Minutes
A wedding toast should be no longer than three to five minutes. To go beyond that is to strain the attention of the audience. So while rehearsing, make sure to time yourself. Cut material as needed to stay within that timeframe (and remember that you can say a lot in less than three minutes).
Rehearse in the Reception Venue
Studies have shown that students who study in the room where they will take an exam actually get better grades. If you can also rehearse your toast in the room where you will deliver it, you will be far more confident when you “go live” at the wedding.
Limit your alcohol intake
“Liquid courage” is a bad idea. Even a few drinks can make some people flushed and unsteady – and slurred, drunken diatribes are inexcusable. If you’re nervous, put the job in perspective by asking yourself: “What’s the worst thing that can happen?” This isn’t a life or death situation – the worst outcome is that you might embarrass yourself. If that happens, life will go on – but to avoid that outcome, do your homework well in advance and rehearse, rehearse, rehearse.
I am a big believer in the power of visualization. If you think you’re going to fail, you probably will. So think positive thoughts. Remember the times in your life when you were most competent. Think about how good you felt in the past after making a great presentation. Draw upon those successful experiences to prepare and embolden yourself for a great speech. And remember to breathe deeply—and with your belly.
Learn How to Use a Microphone
Hold the microphone directly in front of you, about three of four inches away from your mouth. Keep it steady – don’t sway. And don’t yell into it – just speak normally and the microphone will amplify your voice. If possible, get some direction from the Wedding DJ prior to the reception (and rehearse in the room with the microphone if possible).
Don’t be Afraid to Laugh at Yourself
The late Johnny Carson (former host of “The Tonight Show”) got some of his best laughs by laughing at himself (when one of his jokes bombed). Don’t take yourself too seriously. In fact, self-deprecating humor (jokes about yourself) can endear you to the audience (and help demonstrate your humility).
Close With Class
Conclude your toast by talking about why you’re so happy for the couple. Then, pause for a moment – look at the audience and ask them to rise. Pause again until the audience is standing. Then look directly at the wedding couple, smile, raise your glass and state: “Ladies and gentlemen, to the Bride and Groom!” (PS: Remember to bring a filled champagne flute with you to the podium!).
– Tom Haibeck is the author of the bestselling books “The Wedding MC: A Complete Guide to Success” and “Wedding Toasts Made Easy”. Both books are available in bookstores or at WeddingToasts.com.