Ugh. Ever since she asked you to be her maid of honor you knew you'd have to face it. Sure you're killing all the other MOH duties, but just the thought of standing—and speaking—in front of hundreds of people makes your palms start to sweat. Step one: breathe. Step two: Follow these tips. With them you're sure to ace that maid of honor speech.
1. Follow basic public speaking ettiquette
This is a big one. When you talk in front of a crowd be sure you're holding your mic at a proper distance (a few inches diagonally from your mouth), you speak audibly and clearly (so everyone in the room can hear), you don't fidget (pulling on your dress, playing with your hair, ect.), and you stand comfortably so you look confident (shoulders back, feet about shoulder width apart).
2. Introduce yourself
The wedding party may know who you are but we are betting Great Aunt Muriel doesn't. Take into account everyone who's there and say who you are, your role in the wedding and how you know the couple (or bride if you don't know the groom too well).
3. Remember to thank them
Don't only thank the bride and groom for including you, but also thank their families for 1. Raising two incredible people and 2. Throwing this incredible party. Because c'mon, we all know weddings are expensive, especially if you're lucky enough with an open bar.
4. Bring in emotion
First think about what you're best at conveying: humor, sentiment, nostalgia... and use it throughout your toast. The best maid of honor speeches use emotion when talking about her personal connection with bride and include one or two specific life events to draw the audience in.
5. Don't lose focus
The point of the speech is to congratulate the newlyweds so focus on that when you're speaking. It may be tempting to talk about all your crazy memories, but don't. It's not the right time. Simply share some highlights, especially if you were around as the couple's relationship developed and keep on track.
6. Do NOT embarrass them
This goes along with losing focus, but try not to embarrass the couple. Sure that time you two ate chips and dip while sitting on the floor after having one too many may be funny, but remember you're with the bride's entire family and they may not be amused by your younger selves' antics. Instead, focus on the good qualities of the pair and what makes them a compatible couple.
Don't be that person who writes their speech the night before. Instead, give yourself some time to think about what you want to say. Type it out and rehearse it about three times so you're ready for the big night. But don't bring that paper up there when you deliver your toast (see the next tip).
8. Use note cards
OK, so you're going to be nervous, we get that. But instead of gripping a large (and distracting) piece of paper, use note cards. Take the speech you previously typed and write down your key points. You'll know which parts you have down and which you need a little reminder for after practicing.
9. Speak from the heart
Yes, you want to be prepared, but you don't want to sound too rehearsed. Don't get flustered if you miss a part you had practiced earlier, instead just go with what your heart tells you (as cliche as that sounds).
10. End strongly
This is the easiest part of the entire speech. Simply invite guests to raise their glasses to "toast" (seriously it's the reason you're talking) the couple and close with wishing them luck in their new life together.
You got this.