I went to a wedding a few weeks ago, and had the opportunity to listen to at least 7 different speeches given by the family and friends of the happy couple. The content of all the speeches was great -- all were very heartfelt and warm, and written from a place of deep caring for the couple. But in terms of how the speeches were delivered...well, that's where there may have been some 'cracks in the pavement' for a few of them.
That's not to say that they were bad - not in the least! It was very obvious that each speaker truly cared for the couple. And let's be honest...it's not easy to get up in front of a room of 300 people -- many of them strangers (or even worse -- people who know you REALLY well!) -- and deliver a speech. So I applaud each and every speaker for making the decision to put their thoughts on paper, share their kind words, and having the courage to go through with it.
Some speeches were excellent, delivered loudly, clearly, and humorously. The others had some 'issues' that held back what could have been a better impact. Some were difficult to hear or understand, the speaker didn't look up from their paper, too many inside jokes, and some stories shared about the couple seemed to "miss the mark," leaving the audience awkwardly silent (and a little confused).
The great thing about all these issues, however, is that many of them could have been easily resolved with a few small edits, and some overall greater awareness. So based on a sample size of 7 wedding speeches from 7 very different types of people, here are 6 tips (PLUS one make-it-or-break-it tip) to give a great wedding speech -- and ensure that it's heard, understood, and appreciated:
By far, the most common problems came from difficulty hearing the speakers -- there was a lot of "what did he say?" going on. But there was nothing wrong with the sound system. So speakers, take note:
1. Speak INTO the microphone. Bring it right up to your mouth. Yes, right up there. Don't be shy. Each sound system is different, but if the microphone is more than 2-3 inches away from your mouth, you won't be heard very well by your audience.
2. Speak clearly and slowly, and don't mumble. In person-to-person discussions, many of us speak 'under our breath,' meaning that our voice lowers and we don't say things as clearly. Just as difficult to understand are the fast talkers. When we're happy and excited, some of us tend to speak a little more quickly. While this may work with one-on-one conversations, it doesn't when you've got a microphone in hand and 300 people who are straining to hear you. So slow it down and speak clearly.
3. Make eye contact with all sides of the room when speaking. Yes, the speech is about -- and FOR -- the bride and groom. But never forget that there's a full audience listening to your speech, and they deserve to be addressed as well.
4. Smile, be animated and energetic, and pretend you're happy to be there (even if you're so nervous you want to throw up). Don't worry if you're trembling and your paper is shaking. You also don't have to spend any time apologizing for being nervous. No one expects you to be perfect, and chance are, everyone in the audience will give you full credit for getting up there in the first place. And rest assured that there are many people who would not be willing to give a speech. Like, ever. So just the fact that you're doing it is a huge win.
5. Add the RIGHT stories. Everyone loves to hear stories about the bride and/or groom. But choose your stories carefully, and make sure that they have a relevant point. Example: "Karen was able to learn a fully choreographed dance routine in a matter of hours, which shows what a focused, driven and talented person she is." Make sure that the story backs up the point you're trying to make about the person.
6. Switch between 2nd person ("you") and 3rd person ("John"). When you want to speak directly to the groom, look directly at him: "John, I can't believe how you lucked out with this girl." Vary it up by speaking ABOUT John, while addressing the audience, as in "Who would ever believed that John would luck out with such an amazing girl?" This way, you're having a conversation with the audience AND with the bride/groom, and everyone feels included.
BONUS TIP that'll make it or break it (and will make a huge difference to your audience):
7. Beware the perils of the "inside joke." If you've thrown your hat in the ring to give a wedding speech, it's pretty safe to say that you have a treasure trove of experience with either the bride or the groom. While it may be fun to allude to whatever happened in Vegas that you can't talk about, that crazy secret thing that you and the bride did as teenagers that no one knew about except the two of you and it will remain a secret forever so don't bother asking, or anything that speaks to a group of people in the room that are referred to as "and you know who you are," I urge you to reconsider.
True, the speech is for the couple, but it is also for the benefit of up to hundreds of people who are hoping to get a unique viewpoint into the couple. Telling your audience that you CAN'T or WON'T tell them something is frustrating, and might make them tune out of the rest of your speech. Of all the years (or lifetime) of experience you have with the couple, in the 5-10 minutes that you have for your speech, choose things that are interesting to talk about, or that share an insight into what kind of person the bride/groom is. Leave all the "secret stuff" out.
When you put so much effort into something that is supposed to be meaningful, special, and remembered for years to come, it's worth taking the time to implement some tips and tweaks to make sure that the speech that you worked so hard on comes across loud and clear to every single person in the room.
In the end, and I can't emphasize this enough, the MOST important thing is that each of these brave souls got up in front of 300 people and gave their speech. For that alone, they should be thanked, congratulated, and given an extra glass of wine when it's over.
Beauty queens from the yesteryears can give us all a lesson or two on how every woman can age gracefully without resorting to outrageously expensive skin care products, or going under the knife for one of those plastic surgery procedures that are all the vogue in Hollywood at the moment.
As compiled from The Huffington Post, here is what leading ladies of the world’s biggest industry have to say about staying beautiful even after crossing the big 50.
1- Cindy Crawford, 50:
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She’s genetically blessed, yes, but this stunning model too does not get spared by the ruthless, inevitable signs of aging that gradually set in as the years go by. However, she has her own little secret to always looking young and flawless. “You can get any plastic surgery in the world,” she shares. “But hair colour is what enables women to look younger.” Crawford is known for treating her hair to stunning shades and top quality conditioning.
2- Viola Davis, 50:
This How To Get Away With Murder star is a huge fan of Crisco when it comes to keeping her skin healthy, smooth and glowing at all times. Crisco, a vegetable shortening acts against dryness and friction from bunions. Davis shared that she uses the product on her skin regularly and advised everyone to do the same when she appeared on The Ellen DeGeneres Show.
3- Demi Moore, 53:
Demi Moore, who had most of the world hooked to screens with her winning performances in Ghost, The Scarlet Letter and Passion of Mind, only swears by one thing for her age-defying beauty – moisturizer. “I moisturize, moisturize, moisturize!” she says. “No matter how late it is, when I get home, I take the time to clean and moisturize my face. If you focus on good skin care, you really won’t need a lot of makeup.”
4- Tina Turner, 76:
Tina Turner has long been known for her exceptional voice and timeless beauty. She seems to look better and better with every year that passes by, and she attributes her beauty to a strict workout regime that she has remained loyal to for four decades. “The main reason why I still look good is because I’ve spent 40 years doing the most intensive stage workouts ever – and my greatest beauty secret is always being happy with myself!”
5- Julianne Moore, 55:
The Far From Heaven star opposes the notion that women of a certain age need to keep the length of their hair short to look younger. Her signature long locks are always the center of attention at red carpet events. “One of the reasons I wear my hair long now is that the weight helps keep it smooth,” she reveals. Her second beauty secret is a simple yet effective one – sunscreen! “I’ve worn sunscreen every single day since I was 23,” she says. If it works for the stars, it’s probably never too late for everyone else to start.
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Talk about an unconventional method of choosing a husband.
Former TV broadcasting producer Munirah Tunai, 33, met her hubby via halal speed dating! It is a matchmaking session that encourages people to seek a spouse in a respectable manner.
It has been four years now and she is happily married to Zuhri Yuhyi, 35, a psychologist by training. They have a son, Zauq, who is almost two.
The couple have only gone on one date and it was on their wedding!
“Our first date – on our wedding night – was at Carl’s Jr, followed by a movie. It was the happiest and most comfortable feeling to be on a date with someone you’re already married to,” gushes Munirah in an e-mail interview.
The couple have gone into business together, co-founding Halal Speed Dating with two other friends Syed Azmi AlHabshi and Norhayati Ismail. The company’s first matchmaking event was in May last year. It was meant for 60 people but almost 2,000 registered to attend.
Time to settle down
Pre-marriage, Munirah’s life was filled with a fulfilling career, quality time with family, travelling, outdoor activities and attending Islamic knowledge courses.
Even then, she thought: “Wouldn’t it be nice to share all these with a like-minded special someone?”
At 28, with her career stable, she decided it was time to settle down. With that “objective” in mind, she put in her efforts and prayed.
Says Munirah: “I asked God to fulfil my wish and it was up to Him when and how to answer my prayers.”
Her decision was not spurred on by parental or peer pressure.
“It was my natural desire to get married,” says Munirah, adding, “It’s perfectly normal to want companionship and to be in love.”
But her religion taught her to do that within the sanctity of marriage.
“I did not want to be in a relationship where the decision to be married is subject to the other party’s readiness or wilingness. I wanted to skip the whole dating process which doesn’t guarantee marriage,” explains Munirah.
“As a Muslim, I try my very best to do everything in accordance to the teachings of Prophet Muhammad and Al-Quran. Romance, I believe, can be fully enjoyed without risk of heartbreak within the sanctity of marriage and not in a boyfriend-girlfriend relationship. I just wanted to meet potential candidates who are mentally and emotionally ready to get married.”
Munirah only attended one two-day Islamic course on how to build a Muslim family. There was also an arranged marriage facilitation programme where the organiser invited men and women who were serious about marriage.
“I knew that was my chance. In short, that’s where I met my husband,” she says.
Munirah participated in two marriage facilitation programmes before meeting Zuhri in the third one.
“I selected him in the second programme but he did not pick me then. It wasn’t a mutual selection so the organiser did not connect us. Only when we mutually selected each other in the third programme, were we connected,” she says.
Her minimum requirement was to meet someone who can converse in English.
“In one month of getting to know him, I admired his character and qualities. I was confident he was the husband material I was looking for,” she muses.
At the end of one month, she gave Zuhri an ultimatum.
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She told Zuhri she was comfortable with him and found him suitable to be her potential life partner. She gave him a week to figure out if he felt the same way about her and if so, to arrange for their parents to meet. If not, they would part ways.
Munirah had her parents’ support and approval in her choice of husband.
“Parents know what’s best for their children, like how to build a stable and happy family. Children should trust in their parents’ wisdom.
“Getting married is not about being in love with your chosen partner. Marriage is more than just that lovey dovey feeling. It is about making the decision to commit to each other through thick and thin. This is the reality parents should impart to their children.”
Finding his soulmate
Where Zuhri was concerned, he did not give himself a deadline to get hitched.
“I just went with the flow. I told myself that if I meet my soulmate, I would leave it to destiny. I didn’t think we still have to put effort in looking for our destined soulmate,” he says.
When he hit 30, he felt strongly about starting a family.
“No one pressured me. When I declared my intention, my best friend told me that the Islamic method of matchmaking is the most efficient for marriage. After his explanation, I still couldn’t imagine marrying someone without dating her for five to 10 years.”
“I knew from the start that it wasn’t a magical solution the moment I attended these events. I persevered through three events until I met the right one.”
At these sessions, Zuhri felt awkward and nervous but was convinced it was “the proper way”.
Anyway, he didn’t meet his wife at the first and second halal speed dating matchmaking events; only at the third.
“Her mother was observing from afar,” he recalls.
“We e-mailed each other for a month after we were connected by the organiser. Our e-mail interaction was observed by her parents, of course,” he says.
His expectations were not very high. “Looks alone are not enough. Piety comes first,” he says.
Zuhri also believes that religion is the foundation and the goal in life to strengthen the bond between husband and wife.
Initially, Zuhri was worried that Munirah might not find him witty.
“I want to find someone who appreciates my humour because humour helps bond a relationship.”
On how they build on their relationship, he explains: “We believe marriage is a perpetual journey of understanding. Happily ever after is not an ending, it’s only the beginning.”
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