After our previous blog you should already have your killer maid of honour speech locked down. Three tight minutes of sentiment, laughs and well wishes.
Now your problem is actually giving the speech. Fear of public speaking affects three out of four people, so you’re not alone, but it’s not like the one in four people around the nation not afraid of public speaking are the only ones giving speeches. If they can overcome the stress, so you can you.
Accept your nerves
It’s okay to not be okay with speaking to a crowd. Feeling nerves ahead of public speaking is totally normal, it’s just your body preparing to be thrust into an unfamiliar, stressful situation. You can’t control your body’s involuntary responses to stress, but you can control your own behaviour.
The best way to sooth the fear of public speaking is to have confidence in what you’re saying. Knowing you’ve written the best speech you can will give you more confidence to share it. If you haven’t seen it, take a look at part one of our wedding speech series here:How to Write a Killer Maid of Hounour Speech
Fill your lungs from your stomach. If you feel yourself running out of air in the middle of a sentence, don’t try to sprint to the finish. Not having air feels uncomfortable and panicky, so take a second and get your breath back if you need to, even in the middle of a sentence.
Finish your sentences with strength
Lots of nervous public speakers lose confidence in what they’re saying and let their sentences trail off, losing volume as they finish. Make a point of properly enunciating every word of your sentence, right to the end. You’ll be much easier to listen to and appear a lot more confident.
Get your posture right
Stand up straight, open your chest and keep your chin up. You’ll look more comfortable and confident in front of the other guests with good posture and it’ll help you project your voice around the room without shouting.
Slow it down
Take the time to get through your ideas, for everyone’s sake. Trying to double time your speech because you’re stressed out and want to be done faster is a sure-fire way to make sure no one can understand what you’re saying.
Manage your wine intake
Being drunk really, really won’t help you deliver a good speech. Falling over a table of wedding presents while trying to get a toast going would be deeply embarrassing for you and the couple.
Make eye contact
Speak to individuals around the room. It’ll engage you with the audience and get them invested in what you’re saying. You shouldn’t find a tough room at a wedding, but if you do find a few friendly and familiar faces in the room you can cycle back to if you’re getting nervy.
Use your phone to record yourself speaking, or practice in front of a mirror. Don’t try to memorise by heart, if you lose your place you’ll find it impossible to get back on track. Drill down on a few key phrases and try to hit the major points you want to make in the time you’ve got.
Remember why you’re there
You’re speaking at a celebration, a joyous occasion, you’re not getting a grade on this. The two most important people on the day are the ones asking for you to address a room full of the people whom mean the most to them. As long as you do your best, there’s no way you can screw up a short speech so badly you’ll ruin their big day.