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Short, Dark and Ugly Accountant

Short, Dark and Ugly Accountant

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My goregeous niece is getting married in two weeks. She has asked me to give a speech. Her expectations are very high since she says I make her laugh all the time. Trying to make an audience laugh, that is nerve wrecking for me.

As it is I am nervous about giving speeches. Yesterday I was starring at the blank screen trying to think of something to write. I do not want to disappoint her.

I would be grateful for:

  • Tips to ensure I at least look calm, in control and confident
  • Ideas on the content of the speech
  • Any jokes you can share


Replies (53)

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By stephenkendrew
02nd Nov 2010 10:13

public speaking!

Remember the ABC of public speaking - always be confident (or at least appear to be!)

but, before you start, don't forget the equally important XYZ - examine your zip.

Try this - marriage will be a life changing situation for both bride and groom. My niece was rather nervous before the wedding and needed some advice. I told her to break things down into small sections. Concentrate on walking down the centre of the church at first. Then focus on the front of the church and then sing loudly to release any tension. She repeated these instructions as she came into church :-

aisle - alter - hymn.  

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Euan's picture
By Euan MacLennan
02nd Nov 2010 10:35

Why did they give the scarecrow a Nobel prize?

Because he was outstanding in his field.

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By mwngiol
02nd Nov 2010 10:37


What did the fish say when it swam into a wall?


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By FirstTab
02nd Nov 2010 10:43

Just logged in

Thank you very much. All the jokes made me laugh. I also like the tips. Please come them coming. Already I am feeling less nervous.

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David Winch
By David Winch
02nd Nov 2010 11:02

Your listeners will be wanting to enjoy your speech - not to criticise it!  You will never have an audience more easily pleased - if you stand up and say 'Hello' they will grin hugely.

So there really is no need to be nervous.  Enjoy yourself!


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By bernard michael bayly
02nd Nov 2010 11:08

Wedding Speech

Don't forget you are addressing an audience. Therefore don't stand with a fixed stare at one person /area. move your head to cover the entire group, speak distinctly, with feeling and not in a monotone.


Speak with your hand in your trouser pocket and juggle it's contents ( although if you did it might add unexpected amusement ). I avoid this by removing the pocket contents before speaking just in case my hand strays

Remember the audience is in a good mood and want to hear your speech. If you totally dry up make a flippant remark and sit down do not stand there like a dummy with sweat pouring off your face. It may be that you have to introduce another speaker find this out before hand.


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By Becky Midgley
02nd Nov 2010 11:39

Audience perception

I went to two weddings recently and I have to say I don't really remember the speeches, I remember the day as a whole, so try and remember this. So much emphasis is put on the speeches, and I don't think it's a true reflection of people's expectations in the day.

Be yourself, be proud, remember why you are doing it and you should be fine - focus on your niece who you obviously adore, this will steady your nerves. Talk to her before hand about which embarrassing stories she is willing to allow you to tell and which she is not! Everyone likes to hear things about the bride that they might not already know be they embarrassing, sweet or just downright ridiculous! But talk to her about it, these could form the basis of your speech.

Remember that humour is relative, so don't go in expecting to get the whole room in a hoot, it's far too much pressure for you and an unrealistic goal anyway.

Good luck. Don't forget to let us know how it goes.

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By FirstTab
02nd Nov 2010 12:13

Thanks for more help

Thanks for further comments. Some wise words.

Becky yes will post on how it goes. I have not given a speech since I left my full time employent (3 years ago). Great AW community is a big help.


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By bigdave1971
02nd Nov 2010 12:14

I was a best man twice and a groom once ...

I was so nervous and being a shy bloke too I was dreading it.

The guests don't see the nerves unless you highlight it yourself so don't start by telling them you are nervous or they will get nervous too and they'll not enjoy your speech as much as you would like them to.

They are just looking forward to learn something about the wedding party and hopefully get a laugh or two in the process.

I told one "joke" as a best man ... Bob and Jill (names changed) love to go on holiday and visit many places, well from now on Bob will be kissed in many places he never dreamt of!! Some of the younger guests sniggered, the older ones didn't and I had to move swiftly on!!

Anyway I hope it all goes well.


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By ChrisDL
02nd Nov 2010 12:15

A good speech is like a lady's skirt...

... long enough to cover the essential, but short enough to be interesting.

Everyone has nerves when they speak in public, the trick is to hide it by standing up, looking around the room and smiling.

Don't try too hard to make the audience laugh, if you make your niece laugh by being yourself  - just be yourself and tell some nice stories about her and that will get you through. 

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By andrew.hyde
02nd Nov 2010 12:22

Poetry time

Try this advice in the form of a typically pithy poem from Ogden Nash

Advice to Husbands

To keep your marriage brimming

With love from the loving cup,

When you're in the wrong, admit it:

When you're in the right. shut up!

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By taxhound
02nd Nov 2010 12:36

Funny memories

I think funny memories are good, as long as they don't embarass anyone too much of course.  At our wedding, the best man told everyone how my husband's mother had tied a piece of string to the left handle bar of his bike so he knew which side of the road to ride on when he was little.  This still makes me laugh many years on.  And he still doesn't know his left from his right....


Seriously though, if you do get too nervous, just think "no one will be listening anyway" and try to focus on that.  That is what I do when I have to do anything in public.  If you are mediocre, no one will listen or remember, so don't worry about it!  (but I'm sure it will be fine).

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By Steve Holloway
02nd Nov 2010 12:47


Unless you are very talented you will not be able to ramble coherently, so practice until what you want to say comes out right every time. If its all in there then you will then have the freedom to embelish it on the day. Finally, remember the only good unrehearsed speech is the one that has been properly rehearsed.

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By Constantly Confused
02nd Nov 2010 13:16


Perhaps not suitable in this case, but at my friends wedding I announced he had come to me the night before as he knew I was an accountant and he wanted advice on double entry techniques!

#crickets chirp#


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By memyself-eye
02nd Nov 2010 14:53

Start the speech

with something self deprecating, like "when I was asked to speak I wasn't sure whether to charge by the hour or the flower/mother in law/bridesmaid etc etc (find something particular to that occassion). Gets a laugh and shows you are not going to bore them...even if you subsequently do!

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By Chris Smail
02nd Nov 2010 15:38

rowan atkinson fathers wedding speech


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By Moonbeam
02nd Nov 2010 16:15

Tips From Dale Carnegie

I went on the standard course 20 years ago but have not forgotten his tip about being so expert about the contents of the speech you don't need notes. I used to practice my weekly speech while I was cooking my evening meal and it was very noticeable which other course members had practiced in advance. In addition we were much more confident.

It's much better to say not a lot and have eye contact with the audience and smile a lot than ramble through pages of waffle that don't mean much to those who don't know the bride/groom particularly well, with your head well down.

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By IanRiley
02nd Nov 2010 16:36

Here's a few jokes for you..

Here's a few jokes for you .....


Bloke says to his mate,"I'm getting married in a kilt!"
His mate replies," What's the Tartan?"
Bloke, " She's in white!" 


 Spent some time by the wifes grave today.

She doesn't know she thinks I'm digging a pond !


The Police knocked on my door last night one of them showed me a picture & asked if it was my wife.
I said it was, then another one of the policeman said, "I'm sorry but it looks like she's been hit by a bus."
"I know, but shes great in bed'', I answered.

David Hasselhoff has changed his name by deed poll to David Hoff. Apparently he couldn't be doing with the hassle.

My wife said to the gym instructor,"Can you teach me to do the splits?"
He said,"How flexible are you?"
She said,"I can't do Mondays or Thursdays!"

Two TV aerials got married.
The ceremony was rubbish,but..
the reception was brilliant!

I was driving to work this morning and saw this RAC van parked up. The driver was sobbing uncontrollaby and looked as miserable as hell. I thought to myself, that sod is heading for a breakdown .



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02nd Nov 2010 17:38

Practise as much as you can

As several other people have said the main thing is to practise giving the speech.  This should be done several times and not just to yourself - get someone else to listen so you are at least speaking to a body rather than your reflection in the mirror.  You should find that they will make some suggestions as to what is working well or what to leave out.

Not having done much public speaking I gave a slide show about 3 years ago and it was all very last minute and I know it came out very rushed and I wasn't happy with the result.  The next one I did which was this year I prepared much more thoroughly and ran through the whole thing several times with an audience (albeit only 1) and on the night I felt much more confident and didn't have to refer to my script more than a couple of times (you forget that for a slide show there isn't much light to read it anyway).

Also, don't rush through the speech. When you talk to other people there should be pauses and changes in tempo and the tone of your voice to add variety.

Good luck and hope it all goes well

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David Winch
By David Winch
02nd Nov 2010 18:06

The essence of comedy




"What's the essence of comedy"

"I don't know.  What is the essence of comed . . ."



I think it was Morecambe & Wise who said that.  Of course it doesn't work on paper - but it is true that you should take your time (and avoid gabbling).

Remember a second's pause seems like an age to you, but won't be noticed at all by your audience.


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By Richard Willis
03rd Nov 2010 08:44

I haven't read all the posts so apologies if these are already c

1)  Do NOT have too much Dutch courage before you stand up!  There is nothing more embarrassing than a slurring drunk trying to hold an audience.

2)  If, as my brother was at the wedding of one of his daughters, you are being heckled by your own blood brother (me) do not use the retort 'This is what happens when cousins marry.' as he did.

Are you acting in lieu of the bride's father?  If so, and the proceedings are being 'done' properly (a bit rare these days I am afraid) the last thing you are required to do is to propose a toast to the Bride and Groom after which you should sit down.

I originally trained for the hotel trade and waited on top table at MANY weddings at The Queens Hotel, Cheltenham where I was taught all he knew by the then Banqueting Master/Toast Master.  I was also trained in the art by a professional Toast Master and MC so I know how it SHOULD be done!

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By blok
03rd Nov 2010 09:06


I was best man this year at a big wedding.

I would echo what steve above said, practice, practice, practice.

I was very nervous about this speach and set up the camcorder and rehersed my speach many times, each time making adjustments.

It is amazing what you can train yourself to do when you try.  There is nothing more truthful than a live picture of yourself mumbling through words and shuffling from side to side.

In the end it was time well spent.  A lot of people commented that it was the best and funniest speach they have heard at the wedding and when I see it back on video from the wedding day I am glad I put in the effort.  The difference ffrom teh first attempt to the final version was night and day,  So it can be done.

Delivery is more important than content but still if the jokes are funny and the content good you are on to a winner.  You need to have an equal measure of humour and sincerity/niceness.

Give yourself plenty of time and make sure not to offend anyone.

I started with these couple of lines ( I think)

Good afternoon everyone ,it an absolute pleasure to be here ...... today.  However being from xxxxx Im just happy to be anywhere.

When xxx asked me to be his best man I was delighted, of course best man is but just a title.  I am of course not the best man here today... I am just a really great guy.

Couple of jokes about the groom.

Its good to see xxx decided to get in shape for the wedding....its just a pity the shape he chose was a circle!

I know that xxx was delighted with teh engagement ring he picked for xxx.  Any rightly so, its a cracker.  He was even talking about getting it engraved....with the price.

You need a couple of real life stories as well.  but if they are not that funny or interesting I would leave them out.


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By FirstTab
03rd Nov 2010 09:48

Really grateful

Thanks for the posts all. I am really grateful.

Great tips and material I will use. Rowan Atkinson link to youtube is brillant. 

Please keep them coming. I will be drafting the speech on Saturday.

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By cymraeg_draig
03rd Nov 2010 09:59

Bullet points

DON'T write out an entire speech and read it word for word.

In court I use a simple list of "points to make".  If something does need to be precicely worded (in your case a joke) then have that written out, but just keep the rest to bullet points.  Otherwise you end up with reams of paper and what looks right on paper often doesn't sound right when read out - keep it natural.


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By FirstTab
04th Nov 2010 10:29

Any Scots jokes?

My lovely niece is marrying a scots man.

I would be grateful for any Scots jokes.

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By Richard Willis
04th Nov 2010 12:53


The place where people from Edinburgh go for a laugh and come back in stitches!

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By andrew.hyde
04th Nov 2010 14:14

Private enterprise

Chelsea get to play Rangers at Ibrox.

Chelsea fan parks his Jag and sets off to walk to the ground. A lad with local accent calls out "Hey mister - ten quid to look after your motor for you while you're at the match."

Chelsea fan points to rottweiler asleep on the back seat "He looks after my car."

Local lad "So he puts out fires does he?"


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By FirstTab
04th Nov 2010 14:27

Thanks for the Scottish flavour jokes they  made me laugh.

They live in Edinburgh. If you have any more please keep these coming.

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By andrew.hyde
05th Nov 2010 09:31

Only works with a Glasgow accent

In the City Bakery:

Customer: Is that an eclair or a meringue?

Assistant: No,  youse are right it's an eclair

(Don't get it? Get a Glaswegian to read it out loud and then explain it )

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By normafogg21
05th Nov 2010 11:05

Wedding speech


Just be yourself (as far as you can).

Remember this, if you were speaking to all of the people individually, you would have no problem, you wouldn't be nervous in a a  one to one situation, so try to imagine you are having a one to one, but with several prople at once.


Hope this helps.

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By jimwatson
05th Nov 2010 11:06

Scots Jokes...

"I got some help on this speech from a lovely bunch of accountants on accounting web and surprisingly none charged for their time! I specifically asked for some Scottish jokes but all they suggested was the National Football Team..."

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By l.laakso
05th Nov 2010 11:13


If you are nervous, try to avoid holding your speech in your hands, be is as cards or as sheet of paper. Seeing your hands shake is a dead giveaway that you are nervous. If you can place them in front of you on the table and still be able to follow it (big font!), it will make you appear calmer.

As for jokes, saying something about how the groom should get used to never making any decisions again always goes down well. When I got married earlier this year, the priest actually said something along the lines of:

"When the bride walked down the isle, she was the centre of the attention and her entry was the proper start for the ceremony. (To me) Don't get used to it. The groom on the other hand arrived much earlier and was largely to ignored by everyone. (To my husband) Get used to it."

Good luck for the speech!

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By MikeFreeman
05th Nov 2010 11:38


I got married earlier this year and I really do think that rehearsing your speech through a number of times enables you to get comfortable with what you're trying to say, it also helps you iron out any niggles and make any changes that you think don't work before the big day.  Remember the audience is on your side so be yourself and things will be fine.  A good source of sample speeches are at and where you can read through other people's real speeches and take ideas so that you can make your own.

Good luck!

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By Nickob
05th Nov 2010 11:44

A good balance

Having delivered a couple of best-man's speeches, and having endured many others - both good and bad - I have long since come to the conclusion that the best ones are from those who don't try too hard, and don't try to cram in as many cringeworthy jokes as possible.

A few, well chosen and well thought out comments about the happy couple will always be well received. Try to avoid jokes that are not related to the wedding or the bride and groom as you will soon have the audience yawning instead of laughing.  After all, you know the couple better than most of your audience and well enough to enagage your audience with amusing and heart-warming details about them.

A few minutes before your alloted time, proably whilst the father of the bride is speaking, rest your elbows on the table and cup your hands over your nose and mouth. As you breathe out your hands will recirculate the air and you will breathe in your own exhalation. In this way you will inhale Carbon Monoxide which will calm your nerves. Professional speakers use this little trick and I have tried it to good effect.

A good opening line is essential to relax you and win your audience over. In the space of a few seconds, with the right line, you will be up and away, relishing every moment of it. One wonderful opening line I heard a few times many many years ago, and which should have faded far enough into the memories of most of your audience, was...."not for the first time today I have risen from a warm seat with a piece of paper in my hand".

Good luck  - you will be fine!

Nick O'Brien





Once you get going you e


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By mwngiol
05th Nov 2010 11:53


"In this way you will inhale Carbon Monoxide which will calm your nerves"

I'm not sure I'd recommend inhaling Carbon Monoxide except to particularly annoying clients!

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By chrissyangell
05th Nov 2010 11:58

To Look Calm

The best one for looking calm is to think of everyone in the room as being naked (except for yourself of course). I think the best thing about this is it makes you smile and a smile is infectious. Though everyone else will not realise this is what you are thinking about the smile will still carry!!!!

I cannot help with the speech or jokes I'm afraid as I am an utter loss at such things.

Good luck and I am sure everyting will go brilliantly.


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By djbrown
05th Nov 2010 12:29


There's more fun at a Glasgow funeral, than an Edinburgh wedding.

and if you google the word "weegie", you'll find a fair number of links with Scottish jokes, and although 'weegie' infers Glasgow [Glasweegie-an...] you can probably make them fit Edinburgh as well.


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By Psyche
05th Nov 2010 12:43

It's all about the bride

As her uncle you can no doubt relate a few "cute" stories of things she said or did when she was a little girl, those always go over great. But yes, run them by the bride first - especially if they are -too- potentially embarrassing!

Bad jokes are worse than no jokes.

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By SimonLever
05th Nov 2010 13:55


NEVER .....

... say you are inexperienced at giving speaches  - they will then expect you to be terrible!

... refer to the length of the speech - they will look at their watches

... say anything derogatory - someone is bound to be upset

... go on too long

... make "in" jokes - most of the audience will not understand them.

... drink alcohol before the speech - there will be plenty of time for that after!

... rush


... rehearse, rehearse, rehearse

... get someone elses opinion

... compliment your hosts

If you are not sure ...  think if you would like someone to say what you are proposing to say at your son's/daughter's wedding. If the answers is no then don't say it.

Remember - a short speech with a few jokes is much more appreciated than a long one that bores your audience.




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By Paul.Chillman
05th Nov 2010 14:06

Another joke

I got chatting to a bloke in a bar the other day.  Iasked him what he was drinking and he replied "brake fluid".  I commented that it sounded dangerous - he replied "I can stop any time I like".

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By andrew.hyde
05th Nov 2010 14:07

If all else fails...

...just read a few lines from

'Don'ts For Husbands: 1913' (Blanche Ebbutt)


Some of it is absolutely falling-over hilarious. Plus there's a 'Don'ts for Wives' section that's equally funny.

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By spurs1952
05th Nov 2010 14:31

Tony Hancock you ain't

 Ah at last I can answer an accountancy poser!!!!

Right first just accept what you are.  Say you are petrified about giving this speech, and that you are not a joke teller,  but because it's for my gorgeous niece you will do it simply because, well ..............pause -look fondly at her  and say- ........  I love her, we all do.  WAIT FOR APPLAUSE AND YOUR LACK OF CONFIDENCE WILL DISAPPEAR .

At this stage you have the AUDIENCE and just say some lovely abiding story you have of her.  Flushed with glory have a go at some joke and if it all falls flat make a joke of it by saying "I told you I couldn't tell jokes but I work cheap."

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By Ermintrude
05th Nov 2010 21:50

For bad nerves, you could always see your doctor?

...........and ask for Propranolol - used by professional performers to prevent stage fright.

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By steve2646
05th Nov 2010 23:36


Before I got married is was worried about my weight so I decided to go on a whisky diet for a week.  I never lost any weight but I managed to lose two days.

It is important that you wife should know who is the boss so on my wedding night I gave her my trousers and asked her to put them on.  After some complaints she put them on and I told her that this would be the only time she would ware the trousers in our marriage.  After this she threw me a pair of her nickers and told me to put them on.  With her being a slim  thing and me being a tad over weight I told her that I would never get into them.  She replied "and you never will until you change your attitude".  

Good luck


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By FirstTab
06th Nov 2010 12:19

Thanks for more help

Thanks for the response some great stuff. Really good of you.

Steve the joke about the trousers is brillant, it took a few seconds to regsiter before I realised what it meant.

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By steve2646
06th Nov 2010 17:55



If it is a Scottish wedding there is probably a good chance that the groom will get married in a kilt.  Traditionally nothing is woren under the kilt (everything should be in good working order).  At my wedding however I decided to wear my football shorts under my kilt.  I reckoned that I had a very good chance of scoring that night.




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By shoshana
08th Nov 2010 11:13

Some excellent advice

As a veteran speechmaker at weddings etc, I can endorse a lot of the views here - especially Simon Lever's dos and don'ts. I have also endured some cringeworthy ones as well.

My tips are therefore:

1. Don't embarrass anyone - it just makes the audience embarrassed

2. Don't tell stories that only a few people will understand because they arose from events where most of the audience weren't present - this applies equally to 'in' jokes that only a few will get.

3. I endorse Welsh Dragon's point about not scripting absolutely everything - it will come over very stilted and boring. At my own wedding I simply had a list of people I wanted to talk about and had rehearsed roughly what I wanted to say about each.

4. Say how lovely the bride and groom look together and how proud you are of your niece and what a fine young lady she has turned into and is a credit to her parents (who are the hosts at most of these things, so worth thanking them as well).

5. If you want to use notes, print them in large font, laminate them and put them in a small file. Make sure there is a lecturn or something to hold the file - this means you can turn pages over effortlessly and without flapping. Otherwise you end up shuffling cards or trying to read a speech while grappling with a stapled set of papers. Seen many try to do this and they get distracted by the paper folding over and lose their train of thought.

6. Some of the jokes listed above made me laugh out loud sitting in a room on my own so they are funny. I'd use one of them to start with to get the audience's attention, but after that stick to saying nice things. The audience is not there to see a stand-up comic.

7. Keep it short and to the point. No more than 3 - 4 minutes. Remember the adage that if you haven't struck oil after a few minutes, stop boring.

Good luck. I am sure it will go really well.

Malcolm (currently down under on business so about to turn in for the night)

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08th Nov 2010 22:51

Wedding speech

You are likely to get more invitations.  I suggest that you join a Toastmasters Club and learn the tips of good speech making in a supportive group.  Go online to and find a local club.  You should not regret it!  Good luck.  Helen

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By dmcverry
10th Nov 2010 15:12


I agree with this, I've done a few speeches at weddings and my advice to others is that the audience is on your side. They want to be entertained, they want to laugh, so even a half-good speech will win. You have to be exceptionally bad - usually offensive - to fail badly.

Preparation is key, as it always is. I always have mine memorized word for word - using cue cards for backup in case I do freeze. I always stick to the truth, in other words don't make stuff up - that way you're recalling from memory so even if not word perfect to your prep, you can still ad-lib to an extent.

If you're really in a spot, you can't fail if you use a slide projector & drag a few baby/teenage pics out for a laugh - that drags the attention away from you & buys you time - you intro each pic, build it up & wait while people laugh & the general hubbub dies down, until the next one...

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By FirstTab
15th Nov 2010 20:45

Speech done

This is just to say thank you all for your support and encouragement. Mu niece's wedding was on Saturday. My speech went reasonably well. I need more practice! I was pleased that my niece really appreciated the speech and she was not disappointed.

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