So, you have to make a speech at a wedding soon?
Let’s get one thing straight from the very start … nobody (well almost nobody) likes making speeches. No doubt you have heard the old saying that most people fear public speaking even more than dying. It’s hard to believe, but … even if it’s not accurate, it’s still up there in the top 10 of things people fear.
Humans fear speaking in front of other humans. Even professional speakers feel uncomfortable and nervous … it’s just that they have learned all the tools of the trade to appear as if they are cool, calm and collected.
Because you now know that every human fears public speaking, it is also comforting to know that the speech you are going to be making is for … you guessed it … humans!
Because they are humans (just like you), they will be empathising with you and there to support you (not tear you down). They are probably just happy they are not the ones having to make the speech and admiring your efforts.
Also, remember that it is a wedding. A speech given in almost any situation will have people naturally empathising with the person making the speech, but even more so at a wedding. These people are there celebrating a day of love and will be in a good mood (and the addition of a couple of drinks might make them even a little more happy than usual).
Hmmm… yes, people do get a bit happier when they have had a few drinks you are thinking now. That sounds like a good idea … you will have a few drinks for a bit of “dutch courage” before your speech! BAD IDEA.
Why is having a few drinks a bad idea before making a speech?
Trust me, I have been at over 2000 weddings and have seen the results of a “few drinks for dutch courage” end up making the person look really foolish. Okay, it’s true that they might have walked away after the speech thinking to themselves “well that went well”, but if they got to see themselves the next day they would cringe.
So, if you DO want to relax into it and still insist on a drink, just keep it under control. Too many and you start to slur words and your thinking goes out the window. One or two drinks won’t effect too many people too significantly and can indeed relax you a little, but there are other ways to calm your nerves before resorting to drinking.
As a professional MC, even I still get a case of the nerves from time to time.
So how do I get myself ready?
Here are some of the tips I have found to help me …
– WALK. Sometimes getting out of the room is a good mental break to give yourself a moment to reset. The reception room is usually quite noisy and bustling and can add to your mental state of stress. Take a short walk, even just outside the doors for a couple of minutes.
– BREATHE. This is excellent when combined with the above tip. Taking a moment to control your breathing, take in 3 or 4 deep lung fulls of air helps to send oxygen to your brain and relax you.
– MEET. You might be in a room full of people you already know well, that’s great, but maybe not. If you don’t know many of the people, it’s more difficult to speak in front of them. Nobody really likes speaking in front of complete strangers. So well before the wedding reception, take time over the canape time to mix and mingle and introduce yourself to others. If you are a social butterfly, this will be easy for you, however if you are an introvert, you need to force yourself to say hello to others. It might be a bit difficult now, but will pay off in dividends when it comes to making your speech.
– PRACTICE. It’s an obvious one, but one that isn’t used nearly enough. Write your speech days prior to the wedding and practice it. Even better, record yourself and watch it back. No, you don’t have to deliver an epic Hollywood worthy speech, but you will get more comfortable with not only your speech but with your delivery by seeing what you can improve when you watch it back.
– SLOW DOWN. One of the most common things I see at weddings is people who are so nervous, they speak way too quickly and nobody understands what is really being said. Remember to breathe. It’s okay. Force yourself to slow down.
– THINK LOW & SLOW. Okay, so we have covered the slow bit, but what is with the LOW? Another common problem when people get nervous, is there voices tend to raise in pitch. Remember to slow down your speech pace, but also literally force your voice to be a little lower in pitch (within reason of course) than you want to deliver naturally. This will probably bring your pitch back to your normal, everyday pitch. Lower pitch voices are easier and more pleasant to listen to than high pitched.
I hope these tips have helped to calm you for your upcoming wedding speech. Just remember that nobody at the wedding is expecting you (or any of the others making speeches) to be an amazing speaker. These are all people there for a good time. More importantly, YOU are there for a good time too, so don’t let this small part of the entire day bring you down.
If you are reading this and need any help for your upcoming speech, feel free to reach out to us. We are able to help you anywhere in the world over Zoom. Our speech coaching service might be just the thing you need to enjoy your day without all the unnecessary stress.
Nik Reeds is a multi award winning professional wedding master of ceremonies and public speaker based on the Gold Coast of Australia. He has won the Queensland ABIA Master of Ceremonies of the Year award for 2020 and has been placed regularly in the Top 10 Master of Ceremonies of Australia.