By Victoria Wellman 22:31 08 Mar 2012, updated 00:06 09 Mar 2012
Giving a toast doesn't have to be scary. Expert VICTORIA WELLMAN of The Oratory Laboratory shares a few secrets.
Spring is almost visible on the horizon which means excited brides are finalising seating arrangements and dreaming of their floral designs.
For grooms, best men and maids of honour, however, it is the thought of their impending speeches that keeps many of them awake at night.
What if they’re not funny? What if they’re boring? What if they get too nervous? The pressure to get it right seems unbearable to most.
Maids of honour beware! Wedding speeches shouldn't be gimmicky or given off the cuff like Kristen Wiigg and Rose Byrne's toast-off in Bridesmaids
As a speech writer and delivery consultant my objective is always to create clever and witty content that doesn't offend, and to convey sincerity without making guests want to vomit.
It is astonishing how often the same mistakes are made over and over again - best men humiliating the groom with vulgar stories, rapping bridesmaids who bore guests into oblivion.
Every speaker has a unique set of obstacles to overcome but there are a few key rules that if followed can lead to resounding success and an evening spent fending off admirers.
First and foremost is to remember that giving a good speech is all about engaging the audience in a story. Telling a story requires colour and personality in the voice - the kind that comes naturally when you’re sitting in a bar with friends or reading a children's book aloud.
Similarly, think about the structure. Every story has a beginning, middle and an end. If you conclude your speech in a way that refers back to your opening comment, you're half way to sounding like a pro.
Victoria Wellman and Nathan Phillips of The Oratory Laboratory join Martha Stewart to share their top tips for speaking in public
Being specific is central to capturing the imagination of your audience. You have to do more than say ‘we’re so close we’re like sisters’ and then list predictable qualities like honesty, warmth and loyalty among her attributes.
thinks of her best friend that way. The trick is to use specific anecdotes of your experiences together to show why she’s all of those things.
No one else should be able to give your speech so stay away from Google! You are never going to find original material on the internet and a memorable speech is an original one.
Don't get carried away though by using a gimmick like a song or an A-Z list of personality traits. They've been done a million times before and make for a very long-winded, awkward delivery.
Everyone always seems to know this one and yet few pay heed: Less is more. It's much better leaving the guests craving more of your charisma and charm than sending them to the bar in desperation.
Also don't try and memorise the speech - chances are you're not a actor so every iota of energy spent remembering the next line is energy wasted. You should be concentrating on what you are actually saying.
And of course, read your speech to someone for feedback. A partner does not always the best critic make either.
The most honest friend - the one who will tell you when you look bad in an outfit or are behaving badly - is the one who's ear you should borrow.
The most obvious piece of advice is the hardest to digest. Have fun! Giving a speech about someone you love is like giving them a present you know they'll adore. It's a celebration, not a punishment.
- TELL A STORY: Your speech needs a beginning, middle and end
- BE SPECIFIC: Use your personal experience of the subject and focus on detail
- DON'T GOOGLE: A great speech is one that only you could have written
- NO GIMMICKS! Lists, songs and flashcards are embarrassing and unoriginal
- LESS IS MORE: Keep it under five minutes and have guests panting for more
- GET FEEDBACK: Rehearse at least once with your most honest friend
- DON'T MEMORISE: No one remembers a great speech that was read but everyone remembers the one that should have been
- HAVE FUN! Everyone wants you to succeed
Watch The Oratory Laboratory share speech tips with Martha Stewart