Dry mouth, sweaty palms, butterflies in your stomach; not the typical romantic reactions you would associate with a wedding. But the thought of standing up to speak in front of a large audience – especially one that consists of the people who know and love you the most in the world – is a terrifying prospect for the majority of us. Alys Metcalf, specialist coach at Great Speech Writing, shares her seven top tips for overcoming nerves before giving your wedding speech…
1. Be prepared
Take a leaf out of the Scout’s book for this one: a week or so before your speech, think through all the possibilities of what could go awry and find solutions to prevent the worst. For example, if you’re worried you might forget your words, have a joke up your sleeve ready to get a few laughs and give you time to get back on track. By taking the element of chance away, you’ll feel more confident from the get go.
This cannot be overemphasised: practise really does make perfect. Read your speech aloud several times (perhaps even in front of a friend who can give you some pointers) so that you’re familiar with the material. If you feel secure with what you’re saying, the words will flow more naturally and you’ll be far less nervous on the day.
3. Visualise the speech
Positive visualisations can help you bring the speech of your dreams into reality. Have a clear picture in your mind of how you want to deliver your speech. What hand gestures are you using? How often are you pausing? How do you feel when you’ve finished the speech? Imagine yourself being confident and you’ll slowly start to feel it too.
4. Drink lots (of water!)
Drinking water before you get up to speak will ensure you don’t get a dry throat. Have a glass of water nearby to you during the speech, in case you need to take a sip. At all costs, do not get drunk beforehand! It may feel like the easy way to get through it, but it won’t seem so sensible afterwards.
5. Focus on your breathing
While you’re readying yourself to speak, take a few deep breaths (in and out, in and out). Focus on being in control of your breathing; seeming out of breath during your speech will immediately signal to the audience that you’re nervous. Instead, breathing steadily will make you appear completely confident and you’ll be able to enjoy the speech much more.
6. Manage the shakes
Paste your speech onto card and rest it somewhere you can see it. Holding a shaky piece of paper will put you off and you’ll spend more time worrying about whether the audience can see your shaky hands than you will focusing on delivering a brilliant speech.
7. Connect with your audience
The common advice when it comes to public speaking nerves is to picture your audience naked. Instead, keep reminding yourself that the audience are on your side. They don’t want to see you fail, they are there to celebrate the happiest day of your life. Make eye contact with them and smile. You’ll instantly feel more relaxed when you see them smiling back at you.
Great Speech Writing offers one-to-one coaching sessions to ensure that you’re at the very top of your game when it comes to delivering your wedding speech. If you would like to book a coaching session with Alys, visit the Great Speech Writing website or call their office on 020 8245 8999.