So, you're making a wedding speech? Congratulations – either you're getting married or someone very close to you is and either way, it's an incredibly happy time, isn't it?
Then again, as someone who is going to stand in front of a hushed room of wedding guests, all of them staring at you, waiting for you to speak, you may be feeling just a little nervous? After all, a good speech is remembered for years. Unfortunately, so is a bad one...
Well, don't worry about the nerves. It's pretty normal. In fact, reports have shown that public speaking is the greatest fear we have. We fear it more than we fear death! But let's not get carried away…
Remember you will sit down within five minutes of standing up and will be rewarded by applause from your audience and a large swig of drink from your glass.
Also, there are lots of things you can do to reduce the stresses and strains of making your speech. All of which are preferable to 'death', no matter what the reports say.
So firstly, get things in perspective. You're only going to speak for a few minutes in front of a non-critical audience who want you to do well. Everyone will have had a drink and will laugh appreciatively at your jokes and be moved by your more sentimental words. And if you follow the pointers below, you'll be making your wedding speech with little more than a minor knee tremble.
Plan ahead: Start thinking about what you want to say in plenty of time before the big day – especially if you're the Bride or Groom, as those final weeks running up to your wedding can get pretty hectic. To begin with just jot down a few notes about what you might like to say. How you feel about the person you're speaking about, any funny stories, anything heartfelt. If you leave it to the last minute, some things will be forgotten.
Get help: Maybe you're not too worried about actually speaking at the wedding, but don't know what to say? If you want to relieve the pressure of putting together an excellent speech, get in touch with a professional writer, like The Speech Maker, who will write it for you. This also allows you plenty of time to learn and practice the speech once it is complete.
Practice: When you have the speech down on paper, practice it out loud. A good speech on paper is not always a good speech when spoken. If there are sentences that don't sound right, change them. When in doubt, make your sentences shorter. If necessary split long sentences into two or three short ones. Practice in front of a mirror – it really helps you get used to looking up and seeing someone looking back at you, even though your audience is yourself!
On the day: Because you have planned and practiced, you will have little to worry about. Make sure you have cue cards to prompt you and any props you plan to use are in position before you eat. By all means have a drink to settle the nerves, but don't get carried away – save the biggest drink of the day for when you sit down after making a great speech.