Your Audience in Your Wedding Speech
by Alex Berez
One of the most commonly overlooked aspects of
wedding speech preparation is analyzing the audience.
Professional speakers will tell you that they
generally spend a good portion of their preparation
time trying to understand who will be listening
to them speak. The reason they do this is that
having information about your audience is a valuable
asset when you begin writing your speech. An audience
analysis will tell you what to put in and what
to leave out. Other factors related to the audience
will give you an idea of how to effectively deliver
your speech. In this article, we'll explore why
audience information is so important and how that
information can help you create an excellent speech.
Why Audience Information is Necessary for the
First, let me eliminate one misconception you
might have about your audience. Some wedding speakers
falsely believe that their main audience is just
the bride and groom. That's not the case. Your
speech is actually being delivered to the entire
wedding party and all of the wedding guests. You
don't want to forget those other people because
their impression of your speech could also influence
its reception by the bride and groom.
For example, let's say you chose to include an
adult joke in the speech because you know the
groom would find it funny. You've forgotten that
his mother and grandmother are also in the audience
and didn't find it amusing at all, especially
since many of their older friends were in attendance.
Even though the groom may very well have loved
your speech, he may not have liked the lecture
he got from his mother because of it.
You want to prevent problems that from arising.
For that reason, you need to keep your speech
audience-centered which means that as you are
planning and preparing your speech, you are keeping
the audience at the forefront of your mind. It
means that when you make decisions related to
your speech, you do so by thinking about how the
audience would react, not just what you would
prefer or what you think the newly married couple
Before you start throwing up your hands and saying
the speech isn't worth all this trouble, let me
just remind you that this is nothing different
than what you do in daily conversations already.
When you talk to friends or co-workers, you do
so by taking into consideration their beliefs
and feelings. Unless you were extremely insensitive,
you wouldn't tell a friend who supports animal
rights that you took a gun and killed a squirrel
just for fun, for example. The reason is known
Identification is "a process in which speakers
seek to create a bond with the audience by emphasizing
common values, goals, and experiences." More
simply put: when you are speaking to one or one
hundred people you want to find some way of relating
to them so that they'll be more receptive to your
speech. It also means that you'll do your best
not to say or do anything that would offend a
large portion of your audience, unless your purpose
is to shock them which is never a good idea in
a wedding speech.
As I explained already, you use identification
every day as you communicate with the various
people in your life. The only difference is that
you normally aren't even aware that you're doing
it. When you are planning the wedding speech,
however, you have to be aware of it and focus
One last thing that you need to realize about
audiences is that they are, by nature, egocentric.
Egocentric simply means that they are focused
on what concerns them most. Wedding Speeches bore
them unless the content affects them directly.
I'm telling you this not to scare you with the
idea that all of your audience is going to be
bored by your speech but to encourage you to include
everyone in your speech in some way.
Wedding guests are typically divided up into
three main groups: family members, friends, and
co-workers. If you include a mention of these
groups in your speech, then you are more likely
to keep their attention. You might say for example,
"Sherri and Kevin are blessed to be here
in the presence of so many of their most treasured
friends. I know I speak for them when I say we
are thankful to have all of you here to help us
celebrate this wonderful event."
The audience's egocentrism is also one reason
why so many speakers resort to humor when it comes
to wedding speeches. When you add jokes or tell
funny stories about the bride and groom, the audience
knows instinctively that you have put those elements
into your speech for their benefit. You're trying
to entertain them and, if your humor is appropriate
and effective, they will respond in a positive
manner to your attempts. Keep in mind, however,
that humor is not something everyone can do.
About the Author
Alex Berez is author of Wedding Speeches 101 http://www.TheWeddingSpeech.com
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