His palms are sweaty, knees weak, arms are heavy, there’s vomit on his sweater already, mom’s spaghetti, he’s nervous, but on the surface he looks calm and ready…
We’ve all been there, whether it’s a classroom project, presentation to your boss, or giving the eagerly anticipated speech at your wedding, public speaking is high on the list of things we hate. In fact, people tend to fear public speaking more than death! Relax, there’s good news – anyone can learn to give a great wedding speech that needn’t make you a sweaty-palmed, anxious mess. Get your cue cards together and take a deep breath – these techniques will calm your nerves, polish your speaking skills and leave you feeling in complete control.KEEP IT BRIEF
Think about Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” or William Wallace’s “They can take our lives…” (excusing the historical inaccuracies of Mel Gibson of course) – they’re all powerful and brief. Make an immediate impact on your wedding guests by using short, sharp and snappy sentences that grip your audience and will have them shedding those happy tears in no time. Droning on will only bore your audience, so focus on telling real, entertaining stories and cut down on the waffle!
DELIVER A PERFORMANCE, NOT A SPEECH
A speech is primarily about the words that you speak, but a performance is so much more. It’s inflection, gesture, tension, resolution and suspense. Don’t believe me? Go see a one-man (or woman) play, or a stand-up comedian and you’ll instantly understand what I mean. Performers work hard at capturing and keeping an audience’s attention, and words are only one tool in their arsenals. Don’t stop crafting your performance once you’ve written down your chosen words.
BECOME A STORYTELLER
The power of storytelling lies in the images that your audience will create in their heads as you spin your yarn. Rather than just reeling off lots of statements, ‘remember when’s’ and boring information, if you tell a story, you’re making them active participants in your performance. Stories, particularly brief and relevant stories, are a powerful tool indeed.
PRACTICE MAKES PERFECT
You know what you want to say, you know how you want to say it – practice as much as possible and it will be so. In front of the mirror, in front of your friends, whichever you’re more comfortable with. Practice will help you gauge how long your speech is, and where changes may need to be made. Growing comfortable with your speech is essential if you’d like to eliminate “um”s, “like”s and other distracting pauses (and we don’t want those now do we!).
FEEL, DON’T THINK. TRUST YOUR INSTINCTS
A little easier said than done. Telling your speech from the heart without simply reading it from a piece of paper or iPad will greatly affect the power you have over your audience. I always use cue cards with little notes that prompt me about what I should be saying and help me when I forget what’s coming next.
If indeed your palms are sweaty, your knees weak and arms heavy, you needn’t let your wedding guests know it! Project confidence, be the most self-assured person in the room and your listeners will make it so. Eye-contact, projecting your voice and gesticulating are your friends – use them. Even if you feel nervous or out of place, telling the stories about your new Wife with confidence will help achieve the impact you desire. Remember, you the man!
So, in the run up to the big day, don’t panic. Take a deep breath and consider what you’ve read here and you’ll have them laughing and crying the whole way through.
* Mic Drop *