Saturday, 21 July 2018

Wedding Speech Tips from Twitter

Yesterday, I went walking in the countryside of West Sussex with a pal. We walked through forest and fields, chatting all the while. At one point I asked him how preparations were going for his forthcoming daughter's wedding. All on track apparently, but he (a dyslexic person) confessed to some nervousness and anxiety about his 'Father of the Bride' speech. "Maybe you've got some tips, from your experience", he said. I had one or two. He liked what he heard. And we went on with our walk.

At home later, I reflected on what we'd discussed and I wondered if I could have offered more, without seeming to be a know-it-all, or 'mansplaining' to another man. So I posted a couple of tweets out to the world...

To my surprise, I received some quick responses adding to my suggestions, all of which were relevant and helpful, particularly in terms of recognising his potential discomfort, whilst building on the need for authenticity and love. I acknowledged those that I had received (thank you Perry Timms, Robert Hicks and Kevin Maye), and then went out for dinner with my wife (Friday night is Date Night!).

I checked in again after getting home, to find even more responses, a couple of which suggested that there was a potential resource list emerging here for prospective a) wedding speakers, but also b) nervous public speakers anywhere.

So, here it is...

Speech-Making Tips for Nervous Speakers - a curation of advice from L&D and HR tweeters, paraphrased where appropriate.

  1. Learn your speech 
  2. Use a prompt sheet (key points) rather than reading whole speech, 
  3. Speak really slowly 
  4. Practice your speech 
  5. Video your practice - All Me (@niallgavinuk)
  6. Know your opening deeply and truly. Once that happens the rest flows - Perry Timms (@PerryTimms)
  7. Write the words PAUSE and DRINK into your prompt sheet (use different colour pens) - and do them - Robert Hicks (@HRinLondon)
  8. Relax; everyone in the room loves you, but no-one will remember the speeches - it's all about the dress! - Kevin Maye (@donnyboy71)
  9. If it all gets too much, just speak from the heart. Pause at the beginning. Look around. Acknowledge the people around you - Nick Ribiero (@MrMiNiki)
  10. Remember that everyone's on your side. No-one minds if you c*ck up a bit of it or lose your way. It's a human thing to do - Tony Jackson (@JacksonT0ny)
  11. I made my wedding speech up on the spot! When I gave the eulogy at Dad's funeral I was v v nervous. I knew that someone else had a copy of the speech and was ready to step in. I didn't need them directly, and knowing they were there, helped Doug Shaw (@dougshaw1)
  12. Really important to practice out loud, as you would on the day - Janet Webb (@JWebbConsulting)
  13. When I did a best man's speech, I cheated and did it all as a rhyme so nobody cared that I was reading it verbatim - Anthony Williams (@bullsboy)
  14. Keep it short; and if you are emotional, they’ll love it, and you, even more - Sarah Storm (@_sarahsto_)

Thanks to everyone for their contributions.

So finally, my invitation to you - what else have we missed, or advice would you like to share? Please comment. Equally, if you find this list useful, or that it could be useful to someone else, please feel free to keep and /or pass it on.

I will pass on - and discuss - all these suggestions with my pal. Hopefully some, if not all will resonate for him. Unfortunately, I won't be there to witness and support him at his daughter's wedding, as we will be abroad at a family wedding ourselves that same week! So this is my gift to him.


  1. I have filmed well over 100 wedding speeches and can offer some advice which may help fathers of the bride.

    1. Keep it short. 10 mins is good. 15 maximum.

    2. We don’t want to hear about every certificate, prize, diploma, degree your daughter has. We’d like to hear a funny story about her - and how much she means to you and your wife.

    3. Talk a little about her new husband (maybe a short funny observation of him) and welcome him to your family.

    4. Then - your job is done. Toast the happy couple, shut up. And sit down.

    Your audience are friends. They know you’re nervous and they want you to do well.

    Good luck and enjoy it.

  2. Look up, smile and engage with the room

    1. Thank you, 'anonymous' ;-) - Just as I have seen you do so effectively yourself

  3. Such wonderful, funny, spot-on advice. As an amateur thesp and show-off I quite enjoy public speaking but still get nervous. I always have a list of headings on a card I can't lose and usually write out the first sentence as I find getting started is the hardest bit.

    1. Another good idea to pass on; thank you Jacky.

  4. This, passed on from a close friend: "another tip is to not only rehearse the speech several times, but to actively plan on the times when you can rehearse in a safe environment".