Lesson from the Wedding Speech: Emotional Content Brings Down the House

You cannot deny the powerful effect of a well-crafted wedding speech. While some bring tears, other tributes produce belly laughter. Whatever the result, words that evoke emotion capture the hearts and imaginations of family and friends on such a memorable day.

Which leads me to some simple advice. If you want to create compelling and engaging content, I have a couple of words for you: 

Think wedding speech

My oldest son got married over the weekend inside a 125-year-old building. He and his bride celebrated the most important day of their lives in a festive yet intimate manner at the Gerding Theater at the Armory in downtown Portland.

Never mind the fact 185 people attended. It was enchanting and magical and deeply personal.

Gorgeous radiant bridesmaids locked arms with a group of GQ-worthy groomsmen to usher this beautiful couple into a new and memorable chapter of their lives. Soft fragrances from the Hawaiian leis filled the air as Jack Johnson-style music played within the airy and elegant hall. (Yep, there was a Hawaiian theme going here with a very tasty menu to prove it.)

Best of all, you could hear a pin drop inside the acoustic perfect brick-lined walls as both bride and groom read their heart-felt vows to each other. As you would expect some light sniffling and "ahhs" from the audience occasionally punctured the air during the moments where these two soulmates spilled their deepest feelings about each other.

Now my youngest son served as best man. Ross  lives on the east coast in Connecticut but came out a couple of weeks ahead of the wedding to shepherd his brother through the bachelor party, rehearsal dinner and the big day. Being the best man, he, of course, had the honor of toasting the newlywed couple first in a speech in front of all. Four hours prior Ross asked me to take a look at the text he prepared.

As I reviewed his carefully crafted narrative, I nodded to myself, smiled and then smiled again. His words did what Wharton researchers say are the keys to content going viral: "Make it emotional—ideally triggering emotions like anger, anxiety or awe that tend to make our hearts race; and if you can, make it positive."

He didn't use anger or anxiety but Ross wrote plenty that created awe and positivity by sprinkling in anticipation, inspiration and, of course, joy. His delivery was pinpoint perfect...using appropriate pregnant pauses to build up anticipation and awe.

Needless to say, the guests listening in  rewarded him with several interruptions of applause and gut-felt laughter. (Not to be a bragging father but it was undoubtedly the best speech delivered over the wedding and rehearsal dinners including my own.)

So the next time you sit down to create content, the kind that really connects with the hearts of your audience, put yourself in the shoes of a best man or maid of honor.

What are the emotions that you can hit upon to bring about the undivided attention of your audience?

Can you trigger a bit of awe?




If you do, I promise you'll have eyeballs and hearts all over your content and message.

Kind of like those in attendance Saturday evening charged with emotion as they watched the bride and groom kiss their first kiss as husband and wife.

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Tom Hering