The first thing to remember is that everyone who makes a wedding speech feels somewhat nervous. Even the most seasoned public speaker will have at least one cold foot! The big difference is that they have become skilled at handling their nerves, or at hiding them! And there is no reason why you can’t get a handle on your nerves either. It’s all a matter of learning and developing a few specific skills and putting it all into practice. To get you started on the right foot, here are
5 Practical and Helpful Tips to Help you Speak with POISE ;
Using pause is so important when speaking. Your listener is always a little behind you. By pausing, you allow them time to absorb what you have said, appreciate the poignant sentiment, or to laugh at your hilarious (or at least mildly humourous) joke. But more importantly for you, pausing allows you to take a break. During this break you may take a breath, have a little sigh(great for relieving stomach tension) and/or just stop to gather your thoughts.
Pause = Opportunity to breathe and have a break = Calm= Great delivery.
2. Own Your Piece.
You are sharing your work and ideas. As you write your speech, be proud of your efforts and practise the piece aloud regularly. Knowing that you have wholeheartedly committed writing this speech and taking positive responsibility of your work will give you confidence in your delivery.
3. Imagine Everything You Say.
Reduce nerves and take the pressure off yourself by focusing your attention on the ideas and stories you are sharing. Imagine and picture your words, by feeling the emotions and remembering the funny incidents. In giving your full attention to the intentions behind your speech, you will forget to worry about yourself and how you are coming across. In a nutshell, this is not about you. It’s about the speech. #sorrynotsorry
4. Slow Down.
This is ALMOST as important as pause. Almost. It is a cliche, but when we’re nervous, our need-for-speed kicks in and we quicken up the rate of our speech. How do we prepare for this? When you are practising, take the rate way down. When the wedding day arrives, although you will add some speed to your speech, because you have been practising at a slower rate than usual, the rate will be balanced out nicely.
5. Engage Your Audience.
When we deliver a great speech there is a synergy between the speaker and the audience. It is important that you make a connection with them. (Although this may be the furthest thing from your mind, as you stand to make your speech, with your knees knocking and your teeth chattering.) However, engaging with your audience will not only improve the impact your speech has on your audience, but it will also have benefits for you, too. First off, smile. This inspires a positive reaction in the audience, it gets them on your side. A smile (even if it is slightly forced!) will also make you feel better and more relaxed. Secondly, as tempting as it is to keep your head buried in your cards, do look up. Making eye contact further engages your audience. Perhaps choose a few people around the room that you feel really comfortable with to make eye contact with. Seeing a friendly face in the crowd will spur you on. If the thought of making eye contact is just too much, simply scan the room, as you look up. But, do look up! This point ties in a lot with point 3. Imagine Everything You Say.
- When it comes to worrying about the physical symptoms of nerves, keep in mind that you are far more aware of these than your audience are. No one is nearly as focused on us we sometimes like to think!
- Be confident that once you get into your speech your nerves will dispel. They will, ok?
- At a wedding you are speaking to a receptive and most importantly supportive audience. They all know you and love you… well at the very least “like” you!
- Stay present. ENJOY the happy occasion and make the most of this lovely opportunity to share memories, stories and feelings and let’s not let nerves overshadow this moment.
Emma Coogan is an Expression Coach and works regularly with brides, grooms, best men, fathers and mothers of the bride and the groom, bridesmaids and occasionally Auntie Bridie.She would be only DELIGHTED to offer you any advice (or a sympathetic ear) on an upcoming speech you may have, so do leave a comment below, or find her at facebook , twitter , YouTube and tumblr Emma runs Emma Coogan School of Speech and Drama