There is a stat out there somewhere that states we are all much more afraid of public speaking than the prospect of death itself, and you can sort of see why. No one knows for certain what happens when the lights go out for the last time, but we’re all pretty sure it’s preferable to standing up, feeling every drop of moisture instantly leave your mouth, and then trying to crack jokes whilst fending off some kind of bowel related public disgrace. Yes, content is king but practicing your wedding speech is what makes a great speech a truly amazing one.
When it comes to practicing for the big day, you firstly have to be honest about type of person you are. If you’re a naturally super confident, articulate and positive character, then trying to learn the speech and nail it without notes on the day, is a possibility but you have to give yourself time. The best way to go about this is actually not to set out to learn it at all. All you need to do is keep reading it at every opportunity you have, and before you know it all those words will have cemented in your head. Then once you have the words to each paragraph licked just work out a way to remember how the end of one paragraph links to the following one – some people use prompt cards, others can find a way to remember without prompts. If you set out to learn it parrot fashion it will be by far the quickest and most efficient way to get yourself sectioned…and the wedding really wouldn’t be the same without you. The danger of this approach is that all your focus will be spent on remembering the words and consequently the performance will suffer, so don’t forget to practice making it sound entertaining – that means pauses and intonation.
Personally, I would avoid the modern temptation to read your speech from your iPhone. Every day we have the things glued to our face and if you want to look like you really don’t care, then please go right ahead. That also applies to auto cues on iPads. I used these as a television presenter for many years and unless you’ve got hours of practice under your belt they suck the life out of a performance, simply because you’re not focussed on the audience.
If you’re less confident about speaking in front of people then there is nothing at all wrong with reading the speech out from sheets of paper, however, there are some key issues you need to be aware of. Firstly head down and buried in bundle of papers might be a great way for you to hide whilst making the speech but it will undoubtedly render there whole event a miserable and joyless experience for all concerned. You must maintain as much eye contact as possible, and read it as slowly and purposefully as possible. If you follow the temptation to rattle through nobody will understand a word you’re saying, and you may as well be reading out the menu. And lastly, have something to rest your papers on – you’ll be pumped up and those papers will be shaking like a leaf so you’ll need to mask that with a folder or a book. Keep reading it through so that there will be now words that will trip you up on the day..and remember to look happy!