That’s not a typo in the title. It is my play on words. If asked to give a speech at a wedding: the old me, I would have felt like I was “made” to do it, and now, I feel privileged to give the “maid” of honor speech!
I was able to change my focus of the event from an external pressure to an internal choice of opportunity and channel my anxiety into energy by focusing on my purpose and message.
Before I get into that, here’s the backstory and the irony: I have been very involved with my friend planning this wedding for over a year. I am an extremely detail-oriented person and ask too many questions at a time. Despite this, I did not even THINK about the traditional Maid of Honor speech at the wedding!
For years facilitating support groups, I have heard women say that they’ve had to decline being the Maid of Honor and/or upset a friend by profusely declaring they would not give a speech. Yet, this still did not cross my mind for a YEAR!
Either I was in complete denial or in complete remission of my public speaking fear, I’m not sure how that got by Ms. Detail-Oriented. I finally realized it a week prior to the wedding while I was on vacation, unplugged and relaxed. I thought I should ask my friend about it so I texted her that this had just occurred to me.
Me: “How this thought has not occurred to me in the past year is beyond me… Am I giving a speech at your wedding?
Her: “No, you don’t have to do that.”
Me: “Is the best man giving a speech?”
Her: “It’s not required but if people put him on the spot, we told him he might want to have something prepared.”
Me: “I will do the same. Have you thought about this already?”
Her: “Yes, but only if you asked me and wanted to do it, I wasn’t going to ask you to do it”.
Isn’t she a sweetheart? She completely understands the fear of public speaking and didn’t expect that of me. I was unsettled with this response, of not being certain if the best man was planning to give a speech. Maybe she just didn’t want to tell me so I wouldn’t feel pressured. I told myself not to worry and let it go, I would think about it when I got home from vacation, a few days before the wedding.
When I got home, the old resistant, negative thoughts started up. She gave me an out, I don’t have to do it. In front of all those people? Use a microphone? I don’t know, I really don’t HAVE to do it. I’ve never spoken in front of that many people before and have never used a microphone. Guests are flying in from England and Ireland – this speech has to be really good!
Two days before the wedding, I composed my speech, you know, “just in case”. Not to boast, but I nailed it! It was easy and natural to write – quickly! It was just right for them and would add so much to their special day. I started tweaking and finalizing it and became attached to the idea of doing something special for them. I decided that I WANTED to do it and I WILL do it no matter what.
Then I started pestering the bride about the best man giving a speech and told her that I’m giving my speech regardless, so he better be prepared, or I’m going solo!
What a turn of events in my thought patterns, emotions and behavior.
Once I let go of the idea that it was all about me and perfectionism, and focused on what my purpose and message was, everything changed.
Below is the old me and the new me when it came to this new situation.
• My vacation would have been ruined once I had the realization about the speech
• My anticipatory anxiety would have been through the roof for a week
• Rehearsal – would have recorded it at least 20 times and listened back, and practiced in front of my groups
• Would have insisted on memorizing it instead of mostly reading it, although I used some quotes
• Would have had to “confess” my stage fright to the audience at the beginning – used to be a safety net
• Negative thoughts: “Everyone is staring at me and judging me – they can tell I’m nervous”
• Able to delay my decision and process it at a later time
• I only had slight anxiety at the rehearsal, once I saw the setup, it became “more real”
• Read it aloud once in front of my husband and timed it (3 min if you’re curious ; ))
• Accepted that I would be using my notes heavily and there is nothing wrong with that
• I approached the microphone with confidence knowing I could handle any anxiety that MAY come
• Positive thinking: People are looking at me AND (more importantly) the bride and groom – they are focused on my story about them and are not scrutinizing me for signs of anxiety!
A heartfelt thank you to Janet for teaching me this concept – “It’s not all about me, focus on your message.”
This is taught in her books and at the workshop. What a game changer!