What The Best Political Speeches and Wedding Speeches Have In Common
With Election Day happening tomorrow, most of the country has heard its fair share of political speeches. Some of these speeches have been truly noteworthy (like Michelle Obama’s speech at the DNC convention), while others you wish you could hit the rewind button and undo hearing altogether (like most of Trump’s rhetoric). And like with most things, you tend to remember the really good ones and try your best to forget the really bad ones.
The same can be said about wedding speeches. And being a wedding speechwriter, this got me thinking about what the best kind of political speeches and the best kind of wedding speeches have in common. Consider these similarities:
1. They bridge the gap between two sides. The most impactful political speeches are those that try to find the common ground between political parties so that the rhetoric will resonate with a wider audience. In the same way, the best wedding speeches unite two sides: the bride’s side and the groom’s side. That is why it is so important to paint a positive picture of both the bride and the groom, no matter what. Let’s say that the father of the bride doesn’t see eye to eye with his new son-in-law, it’s still important to use positive language. You could say something like, “I’m so happy my daughter found someone who makes her so happy” or “I admire how Jon has such strong opinions and beliefs.”
2. They are hopeful. No doubt, it’s tough for politicians to give speeches that unite and empower a country that is feeling increasingly divided and disenfranchised. But, those who can achieve this tend to incorporate positive, hopeful language. This is also true with wedding speeches. Nobody wants to hear anything negative about marriage (even if it’s meant to be funny). A wedding speech is about praising love, pointing out the endless possibilities for happiness and promising a fairy tale ending.
3. They tell a story. When politicians use real-life examples to bring an idea to life, people are much more likely to remember it than an entire speech filled with flowery rhetoric. When delivering a wedding toast, simple, but telling anecdotes can go a long way in setting the tone for a speech. For my sister-in-law’s wedding I told a story about how she bought 1,000 boxes of “Thank You Berry Munch” girl scout cookies from my daughter as creative gifts for her clients. I tied this story back to her creativity, generosity and family-first spirit, which really resonated with the guests.
4. They stir the crowd’s emotions. With political and wedding speeches alike, people want to be moved. Whether it’s to laughter, tears or somewhere in between, people want to connect with the speaker and feel something real. One of my favorite quotes is from Carl Buehner: “They may forget what you said — but they will never forget how you made them feel.” This is truly one of the most important parts of any speaker’s job.
After tomorrow, we may be getting a brief hiatus from political speeches, but we can still learn a lot from them. Perhaps one of the biggest lessons came from Michelle Obama’s DNC speech when she said, “When they go low, we go high.” And when it’s time for the wedding speeches, everyone wants to hit a high note.