Wedding Speeches

By Dave Hastings, National President of the Canadian Professional Disc Jockey Association

What do you do when the Bride and Groom say that they’re thinking about speeches between courses during dinner? Do you go with it – or – recommend against it? This is a topic that I discuss with every wedding couple I have the honor of entertaining.

Although some people have an issue with doing their speeches back to back once dessert and coffee have been served because it “seems to take so long”, if your speeches are properly presented, this shouldn’t be a problem. (From an entertainment prospective, there are all sorts of things you can do from your end to enhance this experience.)

Personally, I’m against this idea – and here’s why:

The “Long Talker” – If someone decides to ramble on instead of respecting the audience by pre-preparing their speech in advance and sticking to it – the entire meal experience suffers because the quality of the food goes down hill if it’s served when it’s not at its prime.

People don’t pay attention – When someone is speaking, I consider it disrespectful to the speaker when people chit-chat through their speech! Public speaking is the world’s greatest fear, so why would you make this process harder on them by setting up your speech-makers to work in a situation where people aren’t providing their undivided attention?

Maybe I’ am a little old school, but come on, where are people’s’ manners today?? The next time I hear someone yell “Can you pass the salt?” across a table – loud enough for the entire room to hear when someone’s at the microphone – I might have to injure them severely…

It doesn’t take “less time”. Some are under the impression that you get through the combination of the meal and speeches faster if you do speeches between courses. In my experience, I’ve seen it take up to 30 percent longer.

When people speak back to back, the second person will self-edit their content if the person who just spoke said what they were going to say. (When it comes to the story about Uncle George and the Elephant – once is more than enough.)
By eliminating the repetitive portions that cause the guests to “tune out”, what is being said is listened to with a greater level of attention – improving the entire experience.

If you give people the time to forget what was said by putting a course between speakers, this natural process drops dramatically.

People don’t mind listening to good speeches.

If your clients want to make this more fun – present the idea of doing musical introductions. If you ever wonder why there is no “dead air” once someone is introduced at an awards show? It’s because nothing drives a speech-makers anxiety level up faster than the time between when the hands stop clapping – and they finally start to speak. (This also enhances your value to you customers.)

The more relaxed the speaker is when they get to the mic – the more people listen.
Remind your clients to tell the speakers that they don’t have to fill air – they just have to make sure that they say what they are “honestly” feeling. Honest, sincere speeches get much more attention that something taken off the internet. It doesn’t have to be long – it just has to be from their heart – and prepared in advance.

Here’s a quick tip from Tom Haibeck, the author of “The Wedding M.C.”. (If you haven’t read his books – do yourself a favor and go buy them – they’re worth their weight in gold!)
If your clients are worried about what might “come up unexpectedly” during speeches, simply recommend to them that they tell everyone who is going to speak that their speech must be sent to you in writing a minimum of 14 days before the event.

This benefits both your client – and the event in the following ways:

A. It gives the Bride and Groom gives the chance to review the speeches in order to eliminate the potential of inappropriate content negatively affecting the event. If you can help them dodge this bullet, they’ll love you for it…

B. You take the pressure off of the Bride and Groom. If they can deflect the whole speech editing/content issue off on to you – it takes the pressure off of them. They’ll love you even more for it…

C. You get a chance to see what’s being said – giving you the opportunity to possibly work with the speaker to enhance their presentation. Your speaker will love you for it, and so will the audience because they’ll want to listen.

D. It makes sure that everyone comes prepared. If people are forced to actually put some work into their speech, the timeline is respected, and the content improves.
If someone starts off their speech with “I didn’t prepare anything so I’m just going to speak from my heart”, a doorway of potential issues has just been wedged wide open at the event that sometimes can be hard to close.
This is where your “Long Talkers” often come from.

If you keep them on time – they’ll recommend you because of it.