Giving a wedding speech shouldn't ruin the days running up to the wedding. Remember that most guests are too busy having a good time to worry too much about the speeches.
The most important thing to remember when giving a speech is that hardly any ever complains that a speech was too short! Don't feel obliged to talk for 8 minutes if you can give a brilliant speech in 2 minutes.
Before you start to write your wedding speech there's something you need to find out. This may seem obvious but you need to know what sort of audience you'll have. I know it's a wedding reception but will there be elderly relatives who are hard of hearing, young children who can't sit still for very long, or relatives who haven't seen each other for years and so are almost strangers - not only to each other but to the bride and groom.
If there's going to be a lot of elderly guests at the reception, you'll need to speak very clearly and slowly. If there's lots of children at the reception, keep the speech very light hearted (and be careful of any 'rude' words)and be quite short. If there's a lot of guests who don't know each other or the bride and groom very well - keep the 'in' jokes and comments to a minimum or else you'll find that only a handful of people will know what you're talking about!
The guests won't care if you make a mistake in your wedding speech. It may seem like a huge mistake to you, but unless you stand there and make huge apologies they probably won't even notice - especially after a few drinks.
As a starting point for your wedding speech think of it as a conversation with lots of people. Imagine that a relative who hasn't seen either the bride or groom for a very long time asks you about how they met, what the bride or groom's like, how long you've known the groom and how you met. The information is the same as you'll give in your wedding speech, the main difference being that the relatives at the wedding won't get a chance to interact with you.
Strangely enough what you wear will effect how you speak. Your suit/dress may feel a bit tight or you might feel too hot, it might be a style you'd never, ever wear in your ordinary life. If possible have at least one read through of your wedding speech in your wedding outfit.
The main criticism of anyone giving any speech is that they tend to speak too fast. We all need to slow down and make use of the pause. This pause gives us a chance to take a breath and also gives the listeners time to take in whats just been said. If you've said something funny you need to give them time to laugh!
Once you've slowed down make sure that you direct the sound towards the guests. This means looking at them - however frightening or ugly they may look! The words coming out of your mouth need to be directed at the listeners. Don't lower your head to talk to the ground - unless the wedding party is made up of mice!
If you've got some elderly people at the wedding reception make extra sure that you sound the last consonant in every word. If you don't emphasize the last consonant of a word the people sitting at the back and those with hearing problems will find it almost impossible to distinguish between words and won't appreciate all the hard work you've put into your best man speech.
For example, the difference between 'but', 'bud' and 'bug' is only the last letter. If your audience can't hear the last letter all they will hear is 'bu'. They'll have to guess which word you have said. Taking the time to finish these words will also slow your speech down - which is very good! For more voice exercises which can be practised at home click here.
If you feel your mouth drying out during your best man speech, try to smile. This causes saliva to be present in the mouth!!
If you have your speech and want to know how to present it with maximum affect and minimum stress have a 30 min Skype session for only £20. Read here for more details.