Wedding speeches

For those of us who get married, a wedding is one of the most important days of our lives.

Weddings are generally happy occasions for all involved, but for anyone who’s ever been part of one, they can be quite stressful. The bride and groom often have to run a tightrope keeping their respective families and friends happy, there’s the venue to organise, a bridal party to choose, food, the dress … and of course … the speeches!

Because so much energy and planning goes into a wedding day, it’s little wonder that brides and grooms get nervous about their wedding speech. As with everything else associated with a wedding, we want our wedding speech to be perfect, to capture how we feel about our partner and the people present at the wedding.

Equally, if we’re speaking at a wedding – either as the best man, Master of Ceremonies, a parent or friend – we want our speech to be memorable and go down well with the bride, groom and guests.

For those not familiar talking to a crowd, a wedding speech can be very daunting if there are numerous guests hanging off your every word!

One of the biggest turning points for the way I learnt to deal with my fear of public speaking was when I was asked to give a speech at my brother’s wedding. Try as I did to get out of giving a speech, I realised that to do so would let my brother down, and I’d regret it for the rest of my life. When I realised I couldn’t run away from it, I set off on a long journey to learn techniques to manage the anxiety I felt about public speaking.

Whether you’re a bride, groom, best man, Master of Ceremonies, or a friend/parent who has to give a speech at a wedding, rest assured there are proven, simple techniques to help you manage your fear of public speaking.

Speakology can teach you these techniques, and can help in many other ways such as helping you write the speech, speech rehearsal, speech suggestions and much more. Speakology also offers personalised Master of Ceremony services for the special day.

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I’ve found over the years that cooking can be an interesting process.

What I think I’ve learnt most of all from being in the kitchen is that the longer I spend in it, the better and more confident I get at cooking.

I’ve also learnt that although a good recipe is very useful, you have to actually go through the process of actually cooking it – usually several times – before the dish becomes a real crowd-pleaser.

Public speaking has a lot of similarities to cooking. Just like cooking a perfect dish, someone can tell you what the key ingredients are to learn to manage your fears of public speaking, but unless you actually do it, you almost certainly won’t get good at it.

You need basic things before you even attempt to cook a recipe, such as ingredients, cooking utensils and a kitchen to cook it in. Similarly, before you attempt a public speaking task – an interview, speech or audition – you should be forearmed with some basics like what you’re going to speak about and what strategies you’ll use to manage your nerves.

However, the key factor in translating these things into a terrific meal – or becoming a more confident public speaker – is practice.

Practice breads familiarity, and familiarity in turn breeds confidence.

Often, a first attempt at a dish seems rushed, muddled and clumsy, but through the process we learn what works and what doesn’t, and generally the process becomes easier and the results better the next time around.

The same holds true for public speaking; the more you do of it, the more you learn from it, the more you know what The moon signs in will help to give you another look into your life. to expect of it, and the better you get at it. Going through the frying pan, into the fire, and coming out the other end builds knowledge and confidence!

Dale Carnegie – the author of The Art of Public Speaking – put it well when he said:

“…Face an audience as frequently as you can, and you will soon stop shying. You can never attain freedom from stage-fright by reading a treatise. A book may give you excellent suggestions on how best to conduct yourself in the water, but sooner or later you must get wet, perhaps even strangle and be “half scared to death.” There are a great many “wetless” bathing suits worn at the seashore, but no one ever learns to swim in them. To plunge is the only way.”

I agree with Mr Carnegie, except that I believe that people with a fear of public speaking need a way to “plunge” into it the proper way!

If you’d like to learn how to manage your fear of public speaking, why not contact us today?

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The worst that could happen

Public speaking brings great rewards when it’s done well.

Delivering a good speech, doing well in an interview or giving a brilliant acting performance can give us great personal satisfaction, confidence and can also lead to professional rewards.

The flipside is that when we put ourselves in the spotlight, we expose ourselves to risks. The risk that we might forget what to say. The risk that we might look too nervous. The risk of being negatively evaluated.

Most of the time, such risks never actually eventuate. Despite being nervous, things usually turn out alright.

However, there are occasions when things do go wrong – that is, where the worst thing that could happen actually happens. You might have experienced this personally while speaking in public, or you might have witnessed it happening to someone else in the spotlight.

Spare a thought for the well-known actors, singers and presenters who have given performances that have gone wrong.

For example, Juanita Phillips, an Australian news presenter, suffered from a stress-induced laryngeal spasm while reading the 7pm news bulletin, in front of millions of viewers. The stress and anxiety in her life at the time caused her vocal cords to freeze – a common symptom of public speaking anxiety. Later, Phillips told the Australian Women’s Weekly that her panic attacks began shortly after her two children were born. You can watch a video on YouTube of the incident here.

Negative public speaking experiences can scar very deeply, sometimes for life, and as a result can lead people to avoid public speaking altogether. If avoidance becomes a habit, a full-blown phobia of public speaking can develop. Science has even coined the term ‘glossophobia’ for the phobia or fear associated with public speaking.

Take the example of Barbara Streisand – the famous American actor and singer. During a concert in New York’s Central Park in 1967, she forgot the words to several songs. Streisand was so fearful it would happen again that she avoided singing publicly for 27 years.

The good news is that you can recover from embarrassing public speaking experiences, and they needen’t lead to glossophobia. Believe it or not, Juanita Phillips still reads the news, and Barbara Streisand eventually made a momentous comeback tour in the mid 1990s.

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Public speaking in the workplace

Most of us are called on to speak publicly in our workplaces at some stage, whether it be a formal presentation, a de-brief with the boss, a meeting with employees, making an important phone call, a sales pitch to a client, or similar.

While some do everything they can to avoid it, there usually comes a time when being out of the spotlight just isn’t possible.

Giving a good public speaking performance can advance our careers. For example, in an interview situation, speaking confidently can go a long way towards getting you the job you want. Being a confident public speaker in your workplace may be beneficial in terms of increasing your chances of promotion and moving into managerial positions.

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Public speaking quote

Walter Cronkite, the famous American news anchorman and journalist, once remarked:

It’s natural to have butterflies. The secret is to get them to fly in formation“.

The quote is relevant and useful for public speakers for several reasons.

First and foremost, the fear you have about public speaking and being the centre of attention is totally normal and can enhance your performance by making you more alert and prepared for the task ahead – whether it be a speech, interview, participating in a group discussion, an audition, or similar.

However, if you don’t learn to manage your fears and become too anxious – if you can’t get the butterflies to “fly in formation” – you can come across as being too tense and anxious while giving a performance.

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Quick Fixes

Many of the people I teach contact me a few days before their public speaking task. For example, I recently spent time with a person who contacted me the day before an audition for an acting school, and another person contacted me a few days before a group interview for an important job.

It’s easy to see why this happens. As an important public speaking event approaches, people get nervous and tense. Common thoughts such as “what if I go blank” and “what if they see how nervous I am” can start to sap confidence. Important things such getting a good night’s sleep, trying to relax and rehearsing in a calm manner become more difficult. It’s at this point that I’m often contacted for help.

There are, of course, tips and techniques I can teach in such circumstances, quickly and easily, which are very empowering and which improve performance. The people I assist in urgent circumstances often contact me after their public speaking task to thank me for the instruction and to say how useful it was in helping them to get a handle on their nerves.

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Anticipation & public speaking

The famous French writer Michel de Montaigne once remarked “my life has been full of terrible misfortunes, most of which never happened”.

If you fear public speaking, it’s common to be nervous in the months, weeks, days, hours and minutes leading up to your public speaking task. It can become all-consuming, dominate thoughts and cause tension and feelings of dread.

It’s equally as common for all that worry to seem silly and unnecessary once the public speaking task commences. All of a sudden you wonder why you feared the situation so much!

It’s the anticipation of the event that can be so counter-productive. Such anticipation which results in fear is so common that science has coined a phrase for it: anticipatory anxiety.

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Game plans & getting the basics right

One of my favourite sports is rugby, but barracking for the Australian Wallabies has not been fun of late! Recently the Wallabies lost yet another clash with the New Zealand All Blacks, making it the 10th straight year of losing the Bledisloe Cup to them.

Such dominance is not by accident. There are many explanations for it, but the two key reasons are that they consistently have a better game plan than the Wallabies, and they execute the basics almost to perfection.

What relevance does rugby have to do with public speaking nerves, I hear you ask?

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Fear … friend or foe?

Being nervous is often associated with public speaking. Common symptoms associated with thinking about or performing a public speaking task include a pounding heart, butterflies in the stomach, trembling, sweating, hot/cold flushes and negative thoughts, to name but a few.

Being fearful of public speaking is quite natural. Being the centre of attention can be daunting, and there’s a lot to think about while we’re performing a public speaking task – after all, we need to remember what we prepared, we want to get our message across effectively, and we want to engage the audience, all at the same time!

Some studies have shown that there is a correlation between fear and performance; you may have heard of the human performance curve.

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Public speaking – some love it, others hate it. Why?

As someone who feared public speaking for many years, I would often be surprised about – and slightly envious of – people who enjoy and thrive on public speaking.

You might have met such a person … someone who often tells jokes confidently in front of an audience; someone who doesn’t think twice about giving a toast at a birthday party; or the person at school who loved being on the debating team in front of a crowd.

How can they be so relaxed and care-free about something that so many people dread?

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Take a deep breath … or not?

Have you ever had anyone tell you to take a deep breath when you’ve been nervous, for example, before a speech? I know I have. But … is it good advice?

Breathing plays a very important role in learning to deal with public speaking nerves.

Many of you would be familiar with an increase in your breathing rate before an important public speaking task. If you breathe too fast and deep in these situations it can cause hyperventilation (overbreathing), which is an imbalance between carbon dioxide and oxygen in your body.

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