I have twice had the honour of being asked to read at weddings (for my brother and for my close friend) and both times I’ve had a wobbly voice! Which is most odd for me – those that know me know I am not averse to standing in front of a crowd of unknowns and yabbering on about anything. In a previous life I would have to welcome a crowd of people to a venue and talk about the destination and what they were going to see. I have presented awards, I have done talks on surviving redundancy. I like to talk!
But put me in front of someone I love dearly, give me a soppy (yet meaningful) poem to read and I’m reduced to a blubbering mess.
So here’s what I’ve learned from my experiences, both for weddings and other public speaking, and hopefully some of this will help you the next time you’re asked to take part in the biggest day of your friend or family members’ life!
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♥ Don’t look directly at them! Seriously! Looking someone in the eye is associated with telling the truth and elicits an emotional response from both parties. Look just over their shoulder, preferably at someone in the congregation who is not likely to cry. Like a man!
(Read this blog about eye contact – if you want to look at your bride and groom it might help!)
♥ Practice what you’re reading. Sounds simple I know, but the more confident you are in what you’re about to say, the less likely you are to fluff it, and fluffing makes us nervous and look directly at people ….and I refer you back to the tip above!
♥ On that note…if you fluff, keep going. Chances are people don’t know what you’re about to say so just keep going. You know how on Strictly they say ‘oh I messed up’ but you didn’t notice? It’s the same thing!
♥ Video record yourself practice reading. There’s a huge chance you are going to be filmed during your reading for the wedding video, so eliminate the nerves of looking at the camera by reading in front of a camera!
♥ Will you be using a microphone? If yes have a chat to the venue/PA system provider and find out where to hold it, when it’s on and if possible do a quick practice. If not, remember people want to hear your reading so you have to speak up! project your voice. Ask someone at the back of the room to give you a little signal if they’ can’t hear you so you can up your volume. And again, the louder you speak, the more confident you become.
♥ While the venue is empty, take a test walk up to where you’ll be standing. Look out at the chairs, visualise yourself standing in front of everyone. Knowing your route, where you’ll stand etc will all help to reduce the stress reactions associated with nerves and create a calm basis for your reading.
♥ When people ask if you’re nervous say NO! Instead say things like ‘I’m excited’, ‘totally honoured’ and ‘thrilled to be asked’. You can talk yourself into being nervous with negative terms, and you can talk yourself into being confident with positive words. Choose that!
♥ And my last piece of advice? Smile! John Cage from Ally McBeal knew all about Smile Therapy! Smiling, even when nervous or sad, can make you feel confident and happy and makes those watching feel the same.
But most of all, enjoy it 😃 You may only do this once in your life, and you are making a lasting memory with your friends and family – and you’ve got to love that ♥