5-Step Guide to Giving a Great Wedding Toast

As we find ourselves in the midst of wedding season, we will all, no doubt, encounter some memorable wedding toasts and also be subject to some painful ones. While being asked to speak at your friend’s wedding is an incredible honor, it may also raise your anxiety level of speaking in front of a large group of people. Here’s a quick guide to help you give a great wedding toast.

  1. Make it heartfelt. Find the strongest positive emotions you have about your friend getting married, and use that as a starting point. In general, you want your wedding toast to be light and relevant to the two people getting married (this is not the time for your soapbox on the latest political issue!). A little roasting is fine, but make sure your friend has a good enough sense of humor to handle it. After all, it is your friend’s special day, so picking a topic that he or she is overly sensitive about may put a damper on the mood.
  1. Keep it short. A good wedding speech will typically last between 1-3 minutes. Many weddings run on a tight schedule, so if you don’t know what your time allocation is, be sure to ask your friend ahead of time. Keep in mind you will have two audiences at the wedding: 1) the two people getting married, and 2) the wedding guests. While a laundry list of inside jokes may be fun for you and your friend, it can leave the new spouse feeling left out and bore the wedding guests to tears. It is a rare speaker who can captivate his audience for more than 3 minutes at a time. If you’re still speaking after 5 minutes, understand that no one is listening anymore, and instead, they’re probably praying for you to relinquish the microphone so that they can get back to eating, drinking and dancing.
  1. Structure your speech. Even in a short speech, people want to know that you have a point. Perhaps you’d like to give the spouse (or the audience) an idea of what your friend was like before the couple met. Maybe you have a funny, relevant story from childhood.   Or you could be emphasizing what a great match the two are for each other. Whatever direction your speech takes, make sure the speech is held together by a common theme and effective transitions from one point to the next.
  1. Practice! You don’t need to over-rehearse, but don’t wing it either. Run through your whole speech a few times while recording yourself, having a friend record you, or standing in front of a mirror. Pay particular attention to your movement, eye contact and yes, your filler words. Beware that any words or phrases that you use repetitively – “um,” “uh,” “so,” “basically,” “kinda,” “I think,” “actually,” “you know,” “I mean,” “really,” and even phrases like “thank you” – will distract your audience and detract from your message. Moreover, do you really want the audience to start playing a drinking game based on your filler words? Instead of using a filler word, take a breath and pause – the split second silence will give your audience a break so they can stay with you and keep listening.
  1. Don’t drink excessively. It’s fine to have a glass of your favorite beverage if that helps you loosen the nerves, but keep it to one and save the rest of the drinks for after your speech. Drinking excessively before your toast may make you feel confident, but it will make you far more likely to go off script, say something embarrassing, or slur your words. Remember that many couples will have a videographer to capture their precious moments, including the wedding toasts, so make sure yours is memorable for the right reasons!

Cheers to a Great Wedding Toast!

How Effective Communication Can Help You

HOW EFFECTIVE COMMUNICATION CAN HELP YOU

Hi, I’m Monisha!

I founded Dynamic Speaking after seeing a real need for better communication in virtually all aspects of work and life. Great communication can turn a good idea into into a brilliant success story; but poor communication skills can stifle even the best idea. Below is an outline of problems related to ineffective communication, the real benefits of turning that into effective communication, and ideas of how coaching can help you.

PROBLEMS THAT STEM FROM INEFFECTIVE COMMUNICATION

Having worked in a wide range of industries including strategy consulting, international development, and politics, I’ve seen first-hand how ineffective communication hinders success.

  • With individuals – it can stunt self-confidence, personal growth and upward mobility.
  • With teams – it can lead to mistrust, passive-aggressive behavior and damaged morale.
  • With businesses and organizations – it can result in less transparency, reduced productivity, and lower revenues.

If you notice any of these problems at work, it is possible that poor communication is the underlying culprit.

BENEFITS OF EFFECTIVE COMMUNICATION

Effective communication can make a tremendous positive impact on your business. Communication can boost productivity, increase transparency, improve morale, grow sales, enhance client satisfaction, and yes, even raise your bottom line. Sometimes it is hard to believe that something as seemingly simple as communication – a skill we use every day – is the key differentiating factor between success and mediocrity.

However, with great communication, you can change interpersonal relationship dynamics and turn around a dysfunctional team into a high-performing one. By learning how to connect with your audience, you can successfully pitch your idea to potential investors or clients. And understanding your customers’ needs will help you design a better product or service.

YOUR COMMUNICATION STYLE

Many of us believe that our own communication, while not perfect, is “good enough”. When we encounter miscommunication or conflict, our knee-jerk reaction is often to think that the other person simply did not understand our message. However, it is equally likely that we did not put the message in our audience’s language. Since we can’t control how others listen, we have to focus on adapting our own communication style to reach them.

Consider this: as babies, we cry when we are hungry. As we become children, we learn that we should verbalize the words, “I’m hungry,” instead of wailing uncontrollably. As we grow up, we subconsciously pick up a mishmash of language, tone, volume, emotion and habits from the people around us. By the time we are adults, we have developed our own “unique” communication style. The problem is, everyone else has developed his or her own unique style too. When these styles clash or bypass one another, we end up with miscommunication, conflict or resentment.

Feeling like your voice is unheard, constantly repeating yourself, or not seeing the results you asked for are common indicators that communication has gone awry.

HOW COMMUNICATIONS COACHING CAN HELP

Communications coaching can help you in three major ways. First, a communications coach helps you understand different styles of speaking, hearing and listening, and teaches you techniques for connecting with your audience. Second, many of us have a tendency to be either overconfident or hypercritical of our own communication abilities, so a coach offers perspective that is easy to miss when you are “in the moment.” Lastly, a coach helps you develop your skills as well as your confidence so that you, too, can become a dynamic speaker.

A message sent is meaningless if it is not received. Don’t let your message go unheard. Talk to a communications coach today!