Does public speaking strike fear into your heart? Or do you just not know where to start? We’ve got you covered.
(4 minutes to read)
It’s one of the biggest days of your friend’s life. There’s been hours, days, weeks, months of planning. Everything is perfect, from the centrepieces to the dresses. The day has gone off without a hitch, and now the reception is underway. The speeches start. Everyone turns towards you, the bride’s MOH, and look at you expectantly.
And, you deliver a beautiful, heart warming, and genuine speech about the bride. To tumultuous applause, while the bride weeps tears of joy. Of course.
Is the MOH expected to give a speech at the reception?
In short, yes. It’s customary for the maid of honour to make a speech.
What does a MOH speech traditionally cover?
- If there’s no MC, start by acknowledging the speaker before you
- Introduce yourself and how you know the bride
- You should talk about the groomsmen and how handsome/ charming/ insert-other-descriptive-positive-adjective-here they are, maybe do a toast to them
- Share some anecdotes about the bride (nice ones). There will be people in the audience who don’t know her very well, so tell stories that illustrate how amazing she is. Like the fundraiser she did for the homeless puppies, or when she didn’t get upset when you ruined her expensive white leather jacket.
- Finally, you want to tie all these anecdotes together and make it about the couple. How when they met, she knew he was the one because he adopted a homeless puppy. And how they are both better people together.
- Wish them both well, do a toast to their marriage; ‘Here’s to the bride and groom, and their future together’.
- If there’s no MC, you might need to intro the next speaker
- Sit down, enjoy that drink, and relax.
Usually the speech is short, two to three minutes will suffice. It shouldn’t be longer than five minutes.
But what if you hate public speaking?
About 75% of people have a fear of public speaking. If you’re one of them, the thought of standing up and speaking coherent sentences in front of a crowd is your worst nightmare. If the bride is OK with you skipping the speech, you can relax. Otherwise, at the very least, you need to do the basics as above.
To get through it looking calm and collected, you need to know one thing. 75% of the audience are terrified of public speaking, and they will be very kind and understanding. The other 25% have likely made errors when public speaking, and they are very forgiving too. It’s not easy and everyone knows that and appreciates what you’re doing.
The best thing you can do is write the speech well in advance. Then, practice in front of the mirror, the dog, the cat (who will not be kind, understanding, and forgiving, but they will judge you harshly), the kids, your partner, flatmates, anyone who will listen.
Also, don’t force funny. Don’t feel the need to create a comical speech, especially if you’re not a ‘funny’ person. Be yourself. Tell a story that is meaningful… it’s much more compelling than jokes that fall flat.
Which stories should you tell?
It’s time to do some brainstorming!
- What do you think the bride will want her in-laws and new family to know about her? Have you got stories that give examples about these qualities?
- What’s a memory of the bride that makes you smile?
- What was your first impression of her when you met?
- When you think of the bride, what are the things that spring to mind? Her love of rosé, her collection of cats, her toxic farts (and how much she laughs when she clears the room), or how she finds the joy in every situation?
- Have you got a hot tip for the groom for how to help handle her in challenging situations?
- If the bride and groom were having a movie made about their lives, what would be the romantic moment that the trailer would feature?
- Find a quote about women, or marriage, or something else deep and meaningful, that might inspire a memory (or simply fill in another ten seconds of the speech). “When you realize you want to spend the rest of your life with a person, you want the rest of your life to start as soon as possible.” —When Harry Met Sally
Don’t do these things
A MOH speech should be something that’s enjoyable, fun, and that everyone feels good about. Don’t:
- Talk about exes
- Use inside jokes. They are super awkward for the audience
- Tell a story that’ll make the bride uncomfortable. Remember, there are grandparents and children listening
- Mention divorce, even jokingly
- Make it about you. It’s all about the bride, so you should talk her up
- Be drunk. One or two drinks might make you feel relaxed, but any more could make for a slurring mess
You’ll be amazing because you prepared well, you care about the bride, and everyone in the audience wants you to do well.