Controlling Speech Nerves

Are you afraid of speaking to a crowded room?

Not everybody likes speaking to a crowded room. In fact, we've heard - and can well believe - that public speaking is the No. 1 fear for many people!

So, it's OK if you're nervous. You're human. The audience won't judge you for it, they'll warm to you and root for you, especially since 90% of them will be thinking 'Thank goodness it's him up there and not me'! We've even provided you with material to make a joke out of it. Remember too that (unless you're a stage actor by trade) no one will expect a flawless performance or dazzling oratory. They just want to hear you say a few nice things, and ideally make a couple of jokes.

All that said, there are things you can do to help calm your nerves. The following is not medically-endorsed or out of the mouths of presentations gurus - this is borne of our own experiences, both good and bad.

  • Practice, practice, practice! Run through it in full at least 3 times, preferably with somebody else.
  • If possible given your other duties, get a good night's sleep the night before and avoid being hungover.
  • In the hours beforehand, do some simple physical exercises and don't drink too much caffeine.
  • Visualise the presentation going well, avoid visualising things that could go wrong - don't underestimate the power of positive thought!
  • Don't think of it as 'a performance', think of it as an opportunity to tell the bride and groom and guests some sincere / funny / cheeky things they'll enjoy hearing.
  • Have speech notes to hand - you may not need them but they'll be your safety net.
  • Fix on a friendly face in the audience - support from the crowd helps.
  • Before you begin your opening line, take a deep breath - this will relax your body and keep your voice steady.
Then, enjoy! We'd not be surprised if, after a few minutes, the thing you've been dreading becomes kind of fun.