I used to be painfully shy. Sadly, I also wanted to change the world. In sixth grade, I got up to give my speech to be Secretary of the SGA and stared at everybody for two minutes, then ended with, "vote for me" and sat down. So I knew I was going to have to get over the fear of public speaking. I joined debate team. I gave many more speeches to my class while running for office. I won a few of those races. I'm pretty comfortable with public speaking now, and will often volunteer to be the person who presents a group project to the class or speaks at an event. So I've written a few speeches in my day - and I've got some tips.
The really hard speech writing is the speaking-from-the-heart speechwriting. The speechwriting we do for weddings. (Also funerals.) To date, I've spoken at two weddings and two funerals. These speeches have to be organic, and they have to be good. They have to be funny, or touching, or both, or something else. Because the secret to really good writing is simply inspiration. And writing down everything. So here are a few tips to get the juices flowing.
1.) Stay sober. Don't write the speech drunk; don't give it drunk. (I gave one speech on a glass of wine on an empty stomach. Everyone else said it was fine, I was totally embarrassed. I've also seen people get really wasted and give toasts.)
2.) Write the bones of the speech about 2 weeks before the wedding. Then it's done, and you don't have to stress about it. Print it, fold it up, and put it in your evening clutch.
3.) Think about the person/people you are going to talk about. Think about your favorite thing or things about them. Think about their most annoying, but also endearing, trait.
4.) Have a pen and paper. List those things.
5.) Walk away. Come back after the list has germinated.
6.) Eventually, the speech will come to you. If it doesn't, try this easy formula - think about your favorite thing about the person who you are standing up for. Think about your favorite thing about their partner. Then think about why they are good together. Then maybe tell a (short!) story that shows they are good together, or when you knew they were perfect for each other. Cap it off with a quick wish for the couple - I wish you a lifetime of happiness and really good beer; May you have many adventures together; etc.
7.) Don't be awkward. If you are older than the person getting married, and still single, do not, do not, do not, make a comment like, "everyone's asked me if I minded my sister getting married before me." It makes everyone really uncomfortable. Don't try to diffuse the tension you know is there by being self-depreciating and making people laugh - it will only make people feel sorry for you.
Any more tips for wedding writing?