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Having worked through the trials of writing your speech you now have to focus on getting it right on the day. While some men are quite happy being the centre of attention or amusing their mates down the pub when it comes to giving a formal speech (especially a BEST MAN's speech!) most guys admit to more than just a little stage fright. In fact as they stand to take that microphone for many they would rather be literally anywhere else on the planet at that moment.
But panic ye not. Fear of public speaking, or glossophobia, is quite natural. It's even more common place to fear giving a best man’s speech so we have a few handy hints to help you get it right on the big day.
If you’re feeling nervous about your speech then you're not alone. Ask any man and they will tell you one of the things they have been most nervous about is giving a best man's speech. There are a number of ways to combat nerves.
Understanding - The basic cause of what we feel as nerves is adrenalin, part of man's primeval “fight or flight” mechanism. You know that moment when your wife or girlfriend asks “Notice anything different…?” And your initial reaction is to leg it? That's your natural survival instinct kicking in and the adrenalin instantly takes control of things.
Adrenalin will cause the pulse to quicken, leading to shorter breaths, sweaty palms, heightened awareness and the impulse to move (once again primitive man’s urges kicking in as we get ready to beat something with a heavy stick or hide in a swamp).
Breathing - The first step to controlling nerves is to take control of your breathing. Slow, regular breaths will help to slower your heart rate and battle the adrenalin in your system. According to Better Health “Controlled breathing can cause changes that include: lowered blood pressure and heart rate, reduced levels of stress hormones in the blood and increased feelings of calm and wellbeing."
Practise - If you know your speech well you can focus on delivering it rather than trying to remember what’s coming next. Practice your speech in front of a mirror and find someone to act as your audience so you can bounce ideas off them.
“All performers spend hours learning their lines, this means they can concentrate on the delivery rather than struggling to remember what’s coming next. You don’t need to know your speech off by heart, in fact it’s better if you relax and ad lib if the mood takes you. But if you know the speech well then you’ll be far more confident in the delivery and have less to worry about when you start your speech.”
You've got your speech written on your laptop, you've done the breathing exercises and you've been practicing it for hours, but how do you get the speech from the laptop to your audience?
The best tip is cue cards these are small pieces of card (roughly the size of a greetings card) that you can bullet point your speech on.
This is not only easier to hold (a large sheet of A4 paper will noticeably tremble in nervous hands, if you look nervous this will make your audience nervous) but easier to read from and you'll be less likely to lose your place on the page.
iPads or tablets… Hmmm… How can we put this… NO! No, no no! Now we have seen people read their speeches from an iPad and our reaction was the same as everyone else in the room “What an iTwat!” This is a wedding speech not a business seminar. No matter how much you like your gadgets when it comes to a wedding good old fashioned pen and paper is definitely the way to go. Printing out a speech on to paper is perfectly acceptable. Standing holding your favourite gadget and grinning over the top to show everyone what a cool and trendy forward thinking problem solver just looks naff.
Powerpoint presentation. We would refer you to our comments above, we'd then remove your man card for acting like someone who was about to give a human resources presentation.
Relax and make eye contact. This is a friendly crowd, even if your friends have been winding you up everybody in the room without fail wants you to do a great job, it's the groom they want to see squirming through the best man's speech, not the best man.
Eye contact is vital. Performer Brett Cave who has appeared at a great number of wedding's explains “Whether you're giving a speech or singing a song making eye contact allows you to connect with your audience.” Brett said while hiding under a baseball cap. “If you see someone staring at a piece of paper without making eye contact this shows they are nervous, this in turn makes the audience nervous. Making eye contact with people gives a sense that you are confident and in control, plus seeing your audiences reaction will let you know you're doing well.”