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Writing the Perfect Toast | Interview with Eddie Rice of Rice Speechwriting | Wedding Secrets Unveiled! Podcast

Toasts can be one of the scariest parts of weddings. Both for those giving the speech and those who are worried about what their loved one is going to say! Eddie Rice is here to save the day! Eddie is the author of Toast: Short Speeches, Big Impact and today he is sharing his wisdom and experience with you! If you are giving a toast this year or have someone giving a toast at your wedding, Eddie’s secret formula could make all the difference and ease your wedding day jitters. Learn all about writing the perfect toast in today’s episode!

Writing the perfect toast: tips from Eddie Rice of Rice Speechwriting during an interview on Wedding Secrets Unveiled! podcast

Meet Eddie.

I’m a speechwriter – and a lot of my speeches are a balance between corporate speeches, keynotes, TEDx talks, as well as toasts for weddings and other special occasions.  I’m the author of the book aptly named “Toast: Short Speeches, Big Impact”, and I wrote it as a manual to help anyone who is struggling to get those ideas down on paper for their upcoming wedding toast, or any toast in general.

Where can listeners grab a copy of that book?

It’s available everywhere. You can find it on Amazon, Barnes and Noble. Currently, you can find it in audiobook format, too, through any book store. Grab Toast: Short Speeches, Big Impact here!

How did you get into this whole field of speech writing?

It was more of a happy accident. To be honest, I started out thinking that I was going to be a public speaking coach. I had been doring really well in Toastmasters and helping others with their public speaking, so I decided to launch my own business. Honestly, I failed at it. At first, I did not know how to get clients, how to do content marketing and how to put up a website. And it became incredibly challenging for me to find anyone that wanted to work with me. So, early on, I decided to look at websites like Upwork and E-Lance. People wanted help with their speeches. As I learned to do more with my business, I also began to study wedding speeches more closely. I applied the principles that made them really good, and suddenly the speeches I helped people write got rave reviews. It built up from there. 

tips for speeches from Eddie Rice of Rice Speechwriting

What “do’s” do you have for wedding toasts?

In the do category, I would put down that you should tell a story that honors the person and honors the event. You don’t want something that’s going to be a complete inside joke or summary of something that happened on your bachelor trip to Vegas. Those are stories to stay away from. But, you want to find a story that truly shows how great the person is that you’re toasting – something that truly honors them. And if you can start off and craft your speech around that, then you’re going to be in a very good spot to have just an overall great toast.

I think a good speech really comes down to preparation. I tell people that they should be balancing out the amount of time that they rehearse with the amount that they write. So, it’s not enough that you’ve written the speech the night before. You should be working ahead, maybe a month ahead so you have time to actually prepare and rehearse what you’re going to say. And if you can get that really nice balance of two and two, going into it, you’re going to be just phenomenal.

And then finally, keep it short! Anywhere from about three to five minutes is all you need to give a great toast. You don’t need to be up there for seven minutes, 10 minutes, 20 minutes, none of that. Instead, there’s multiple people that have to speak at the reception so I would instead urge you to go on the shorter side. Not only that, it’s easier to prepare. And no one ever complained that a speech was too short!

Writing the perfect toast: tips from Eddie Rice of Rice Speechwriting during an interview on Wedding Secrets Unveiled! podcast

Obviously, how quickly you speak can change the timing, but about how many words do you recommend writing for a 3-5 minute speech?

What I tell people is to budget about 150 words per minute. So if you’re talking about three minutes, that’s 450 words and at five minutes, that’s 750. Anywhere from about 450 words to 750 is a good length. If you’re in that ballpark, you’re in a really good spot with how long your speech needs to be.

What about ending a speech? Any tips or tricks you can share with someone to wrap up their speech?

So there’s two routes you can go, you can go the traditional route of finding a really good quote on the internet that fits in your toast. Something that talks about raising a glass or cheers. Or what I like to do is find something that’s unique to the happy couple, whether it’s a song, a book, a movie, and find a quote from that. Mention that the quote is special to them in some way and it will just make the speech a bit more special and unique. 

I love all of those. What about some “don’ts” for speech writing?

Honestly, I think they’re just the opposite of the do’s. I think one is really watching your humor and understanding who’s in the audience… and that you’ve got the couple’s families there. You don’t want to say anything that’s going to embarrass them. So, I would say use humor, but if you’re not a very humorous person, don’t force it. 

Writing the perfect toast: tips from Eddie Rice of Rice Speechwriting during an interview on Wedding Secrets Unveiled! podcast

I know that you said you’d watched a bunch of speeches on YouTube to find patterns. Is there a cringeworthy one that really sticks out to you? 

Oh, man, I wish I could remember each one. But I remember this radio show that put together the top 10 Best Man fails at a wedding. But there’s always a few key elements in those situations. One, the person is too drunk – they wanted liquid courage and have taken it too far. On top of it, you can tell they’re just winging it. With those two elements combined, they almost always deliver a horrible speech. 

There you go. Two other don’ts for giving a speech! What else do you have for our listeners?

I think there’s something that people do – that happens when you’re crafting a speech – and that’s focusing on one member of the couple over the other. So make sure that you’re not just talking to the groom or the bride. Balance out your toast and talk about both members. If you don’t know them, make sure to take time before the ceremony to get to know them better. That will lend itself to a much more balanced toast. 

Perfect. Going back to your book – I think you mentioned something about not reading off of cell phones. That’s a pet peeve of mine, so it’s nice to be backed up! 

Oh, very much. If you’ve got a piece of paper, there’s no chance of your battery dying out! When you print your speech, make the font a bit larger and bolder. You can even double space it so that it’s easier to read. 

Writing the perfect toast: tips from Eddie Rice of Rice Speechwriting during an interview on Wedding Secrets Unveiled! podcast

How can someone brainstorm for their wedding toast?

What I do, and this is very common to many speech writers out there, is that I’ll send over a survey of questions for people to fill out. This asks about the qualities of the person they’re toasting, experiences with them, memories, things like that. They’re questions to get the ideas flowing. During the brainstorming phase, you want to get all of those ideas onto paper and then later on, you can structure them and edit it down to that 3-5 minute speech. 

I think too often that people sit down and try to write the whole speech from beginning to end. That’s just not the most effective way to write a speech. You need to brainstorm ideas, test them against other people, and find out what’s resonating.  

So then once you do the brainstorming phase, what do you do to get the structure going?

There’s a few structures I recommend in my book. But, one structure I like is to tell one great story. Introduce yourself, explain who you are, and then tell one great story. From there, you can give a message to the couple – one for each of them – and then end with a closing cheers. It’s a super simple structure that anyone can follow. You take those ideas that you had during the brainstorming phase, fit them into each part. At that point, you can start cleaning it up! 

Writing the perfect toast: tips from Eddie Rice of Rice Speechwriting during an interview on Wedding Secrets Unveiled! podcast

Talk to me about rehearsal now. 

Sure. There’s a few ways to rehearse. First, if you have some extra time before the toast, consider taking time to review it all. Another idea is to join the group called Toastmasters – a public speaking group that meets weekly. But, if you don’t have a lot of time, make sure to find time in the day and practice in short bursts where it has your full attention and focus. When you’re comfortable with it, I would suggest finding a few family members or friends to listen and give you feedback on your toast. 

Do you have any techniques to help people speak more slowly? I know I talk fast when I’ve got a speech to give! 

I think deep breathing and progressive muscle relaxation work incredibly well to calm yourself down. When we start speaking, the adrenaline rush goes through us. And if we’re not careful, we can let it overtake us and make us a bundle of nerves when we’re giving our toast, or we are going to be speaking incredibly fast. So one thing you can do is this deep breathing, where you take in a breath for three seconds, hold it for three seconds, exhale for three seconds. Repeat the process, adding a count each time. This will calm your heart and lungs. 

Can you tell us what it’s like to work with a professional for speech writing?

Of course, a professional like me can help you write your toast from beginning to end. So the whole process about going through brainstorming, structuring, writing, editing is done with me, a partner. When people work with me, they start with the questionnaire and then I create a first draft for them. Then we trade that draft back and forth. After about 3 revisions usually, we have a really good speech. 

How much should someone budget work with a professional speech writer?

I would budget anywhere from about $250 to $400. 

Writing the perfect toast: tips from Eddie Rice of Rice Speechwriting during an interview on Wedding Secrets Unveiled! podcast

Do you have any tips for someone who finds themselves overly emotional during a speech?

That’s when it comes back to preparation. I know, it just seems like we’re kind of like beating a dead horse on that one. But I think the more you prepare, the more, you’re going to be ready for those super emotional moments. With practice, you can get some of those emotions out, instead of debuting them at the event. 

If you’re truly having a tough time, and it’s muddling the message, I think at that point, you may need to get some help from me, where we could definitely do private zoom sessions, or another public speaking coach that’s out there could help. 

Wrap-Up Question

Can you go over the three main points that will help couples or their wedding party write the best speech? 

Honor the person and honor the event. If you toast those things, you’re going to have a great speech.

Tell great stories that honor the couple getting married.

Keep it short – 3 to 5 minutes is all you need to give a great speech. No one comes to the wedding for a lunch. 

As a bonus, rehearse, rehearse, rehearse. 

tips for speeches from Eddie Rice of Rice Speechwriting during an interview on Wedding Secrets Unveiled! podcast

What We Discussed

How Eddie got into speechwriting (3:11)

The do’s for wedding speeches (7:13)

Tips to wrap up your speech (10:00)

The don’ts of speech writing (10:53)

How to brainstorm for your speech (16:00)

Where you can go for help with your speeches (22:08)

Wrap-up questions (27:53)

Links Mentioned in the Episode

You can find Rice Speechwriting: Website | LinkedIn | Toast: Short Speeches, Big Impact

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