Overcoming the Difficulties of Writing a Speech
For some people, being asked to speak at an event such as a wedding is an honor, a privilege, and exciting opportunity to share what they have in their hearts for the new couple. For other people however, while they may be honored to have been asked, their feeling of excitement is quickly overcome with questions of, “How?” and “Where do I begin?” There is not one answer to those questions that will apply to every person writing a speech, but here are some good strategies I have recommend using when writing a speech.
Start at the End
I know it may sound counter-productive, or literally, backwards to do, but begin writing your speech at the end. Think about what you want the outcome to be, what do you want your audience to walk away knowing and having learned? Ask yourself, what is the purpose of my speech? Is your intention to inform, persuade, pitch an idea, thank, celebrate, etc. In the case of writing a wedding speech, you generally want to express thanks and share in the joy and excitement of the day for the new couple. So, while writing, after every sentence, double back and ensure that what you plan to say lines up with your goal to celebrate and highlight the newlyweds.
Consider your Audience
Remember that will be speaking to a room full off wedding guests to whom you may know and even be related to. However, the other half of the guests may be meeting you for the first time, so, take into consideration those to whom you are speaking. The goal of any speech is to have your audience leave with understanding, so reserve using inside jokes, nicknames, or anything that may leave some guests out of the loop or confused. Also, be mindful if you are speaking at a wedding reception that has children in attendance. Although they may not be the most captive audience, or be interested in the least by what you’re saying, be mindful of the language you use.
Stick to the Script
Your wedding speech, especially when speaking at a wedding that is not your own, is not the time to try out your standup comedy routine, especially if you have never successfully told a funny joke once in your life. Don’t allow the perceived pressure of speaking to a room full of people to push you into a direction, tone, or style that isn’t natural or your own. Don’t feel the need to include big words or try your hand at new words; people don’t come to weddings and receptions to be taught or wowed by poetic words. Keep things simple and use words that are the most closely related to your normal conversational voice. You will speak more broadly and in more generalities than normal conversation, but the speech itself should still sound like you.
The difficulties in writing a speech are usually self-created. Give yourself enough time to think about what you want to say, write thoughts down as they come to you over the course of a week, and simply organize and connect the thoughts when you are ready to write your speech.
Best of luck and enjoy making your wedding speech.