One of my good friends has asked me to do a ceremony reading at her upcoming Catholic wedding. I am honored that she has selected me for this job, but I am absolutely terrified of speaking in public. Just the thought of standing up in front of 200 pairs of eyes makes me nervous. Should I tell her I can't do it? I really don't want to seem ungrateful or let her down.
Okay. Take a deep breath. You can do the reading and make it through the ceremony without trauma. The more you know, the less nervous you will feel (no unexpected surprises). Here are some things to keep in mind.
First, the bride and groom will probably have selected the reading they would like you to do beforehand. But if not, you'll have to do some hunting on your own. Consider the bride and grooms' personalities when choosing a reading. Perhaps your friend has a favorite book or poem you could draw inspiration from, as well as excerpts from the Old and New Testaments. If do you choose the reading material, make sure you show your choice to the bride and groom beforehand to get their approval.
Second, start practicing! The more familiar you are with the reading, the less likely you will be to stumble over words come the big day. You'll probably have a chance to practice your reading at the rehearsal, but you should also practice a few times prior to that in front of an audience (whether it be a few friends, your parents or even your little sister's collection of stuffed animals).
Third, try your hardest not to fidget. Many people have a tendency to twirl their hair around their fingers, tap their feet, or sway back and forth when speaking in public. If you waste your energy fidgeting, it will be harder to focus on your reading.
Last but not least, don't speak too close to the microphone. Above all, remember that the guests are really focusing on the happy couple, not on you. However, if you know yourself well enough to be sure that even these tips won't help you carry off the reading, and you're really sweating it -- talk to your friend. She should be willing to give you another, equally important yet less stressful role in the ceremony.
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