5 Top Tips for speaking in public

Posted on March 29, 2015 by Judy | Filed under: Ceremony, Readings, Speech, Weddings

Have you been asked to read at a wedding?    What do you do?  Panic?  Refuse?  Or accept, but feel very nervous about it?

Research shows that more people would rather be buried alive than speak in public – 74% of us admit to ‘Glossophobia*’ – not something I suffer from, thankfully, or I would be out of a job!   I do get performance nerves, but I manage to harness the adrenalin to good effect.

*Glossophobia = Fear of speaking in public

And even if you do find yourself agreeing to speak, and to read a poem or extract from a text, sometimes the bride or groom will ask you to choose – but how do you choose a reading that is appropriate for a wedding ceremony?

Thankfully, there is a whole heap of info out there, and a quick Google of ‘readings for weddings’ will bring up suggestions.   Many of them are VERY popular, and have almost been ‘done to death’.   Others are good only if they are read in the correct way…

A couple of examples include the iconic and moving ‘i carry your heart’ by e e cummings  which is a difficult read unless you have practised.   Another is ‘A Lovely Love Story’ by Edward Monkton – often mistitled as ‘The Lovely Dinosaur ‘    – this can sound trite and cheesy unless read with real meaning, and only practice will help you here!   I have had couples read it, with each taking the male and female dinosaur parts and that worked beautifully.

My 5 Top Tips for Speaking in Public:

1.  PRACTICE!  There is just no shortcut for this, and no substitute.  Read it aloud, and read it often.

2.  See if you can find someone reading it on YouTube – listen to as many versions as you can, especially those from famous actors – they know what they are doing!

3.  Print your poem in a clear font – I use Arial, 14 point, and 1.5 line spacing…   I provide readings already printed ready for Cherish Ceremonies speakers, whether it is for a wedding, a vow renewal, a funeral….

4.  Speak more slowly and louder than you would normally.  Imagine a deaf old uncle at the back of the room – aim it at him.  Use the punctuation in the piece to guide you.  The question marks and exclamation marks will alter your tone and pitch; and the commas and full stops are to control your breathing.   Commas for a small pause; full stops for a longer pause.

5.  Before you start, take a sip of water.   This does 2 things.  One, it gives you a few moments to compose yourself, and secondly, the physical act of swallowing cool water relaxes your throat and vocal cords, ready to speak ….


Enjoy it!  It is an honour to be asked to give the reading or speech at a wedding or other occasion.   If you would like any advice, do get in touch via the website or through my FB page and I will be happy to help!

I also offer a speechwriting service for those who have to write something and have no idea what to say…