If you're afraid of speaking to a group of a hundred some odd guests, who are all staring at you in anticipation, you're not alone! Public speaking typically induces panic and maybe even those naked in front of a crowd nightmares you thought you escaped in middle school.
Those paralyzing nerves usually come from that ugly little critic in our heads. Women especially tend to be their own worst hypercritical enemy and naturally we believe that others are judging us as harshly as we judge ourselves. Of course, they aren’t. But that’s not what that little critic is whispering in your ear.
While nerves are a natural part of public speaking in general (yes, even those kick ass TedTalk speakers get a heart-pumping rush), you're feeling that they get the best of you. You're shaking in your pumps, sweating profusely, and stumbling over every word. I get it! It's scary. But it doesn't have to be.
You can learn to use that rush of nerves to ace your next Best Man or Maid of Honor Toast! Here are my three nerve-alleviating tips to do before delivering any speech and kick those nerves in the face.
1. The Mindset Shift: Face your fear for what it really is - a catastrophized idea in your mind of a small speaking imperfection. Visualize the absolute worst that can happen, replay this scenario with a less dramatic outcome, and continue scaling down the emotional connection you have with this scenario until you’ve imagined a calm realistic outcome of your fear taking place. It’s also helpful to first visualize yourself in these situations, then someone you care about in your hypothetical shoes, and back to you again.
You’ll find that you’re much kinder to that imagined someone else instead of yourself. Once you realize that you deserve a break from that hypercritic, you’ve given yourself permission to be imperfect and embrace your speaking quirks. We all have them and it’s okay.
2. The Prep: I say it time and again - practice, practice, practice. My motto isn’t ‘Practice Makes Perfect’. For me, it’s ‘Practice Means Freedom’. The more you practice, the more comfortable you are with the words you’re saying. It’s not about memorizing the speech - don’t do that or else you’ll worry more than you have to - it’s about familiarizing yourself with what you’re saying so that it’s not so unbearable on the wedding day. You can practice by recording yourself as you deliver your speech, having someone else record you, and speaking in front of a group of friends. The point is to do it enough times that your mind and body become less anxious and more confident in the process.
3. The Superhero: The day of the event, nerves will course through your body even though you’ve shifted your mindset and practiced. That’s okay, don’t run. Slowly breathing in and out is essential to calming those nerves but adding the superhero pose to the mix will boost your confidence levels considerably. Here’s how to do it: emulate Wonder Woman with feet shoulder-width apart, chest out, chin up, hands on your hips, and eyes on the prize. Do this in the bathroom for about 2-3 minutes before the reception or about 10 minutes before you’re supposed to speak. This also gives you time to touch up your make-up and feel fabulous. Or at least fake it.
Try these three tips for your next Best Man or Maid of Honor speech and you'll surely ACE IT!
Photo Credit: Dreamlife Weddings