Brilliant wedding speech tips from Obama’s former speech writer
Who better to take wedding speech tips from than word maestro Jon Favreau, President Obama’s former Director of Speech writing…
President Obama can be credited for many brilliant things but it’s his emotive and passionate speeches that stirred the heart of the America evoking tears, laughter and hope for the future.
The man largely responsible for Obama’s distinctively positive and heart raising rhetoric was Jon Favreau who became the chief speechwriter for Obama’s 2008 campaign and was brought on as an official White House staff member after the victory in 2009, where he remained with the title Director of Speechwriting until 2013.
Today Favreau lives in LA where he heads up a communications firm and but his talent talent for penning brilliant speeches hasn’t been forgotten and he often finds himself being asked for advice on how to write the perfect speech by family and friends, frequently ones who are getting married.
When you think about it, writing a wedding speech bares many similarities to writing a political one – you want to evoke passionate emotions. You want your audience to engage with you, listen your every word, laugh with your or cry with you. It’s all about truth, honesty and hope for the future.
In a recent article for Vogue Favreau shared these brilliant wedding speech tips which are guaranteed to win over your audience, no matter how tricky they are!
Follow these tips and you’ll nail it, just like Obama.
Keep it short and sweet
Everyone says this, but the single most important thing you can do to give a successful wedding toast is: Keep it short. You should aim for three to four minutes. If it’s longer than five minutes, you are very likely to lose a crowd where everyone’s checking their iPhones anyway.
Don’t tell a bad joke
Use humor, but don’t try too hard here. Funny asides and anecdotes are welcome—cheesy one-liners and knock-knock jokes are not. If you’re not naturally a funny person, don’t pick a wedding venue to launch your stand-up career.
Stick with a narrative
Speak through stories. People are more likely to remember a single moving anecdote about the couple than an entire speech full of flowery rhetoric. And by the way, anecdotes are easier for you to remember when you’re delivering the toast, which should be memorized and not read off a piece of paper or a phone. My girlfriend Emily gave a toast at her sister’s wedding that was centered around the bride trying to plant a lemon tree in Cincinnati when she was a little girl, and everyone remembers it to this day because the story illustrated Abby’s idealism in a unique and specific way.
Be conversational. Do not use big words to impress the crowd. Do not construct complex sentences and write flowery language that you wouldn’t use if you were talking with a friend one-on-one. It may look pretty written on a page, but it will sound stilted and pretentious to an audience.
Stir the crowd’s emotions
I say this about political speeches and the same is true with wedding toasts—the story you tell is more important than the words you write. Your job is to take the audience through a little journey that makes them laugh, cry, and learn something new about the happy couple.