As if the emotional labour of being a bridesmaid wasn't enough, when your friend asks you to give a speech or toast at their wedding, your first reaction might be to start drinking. But if you're someone who has social anxiety, or just happen to be deathly afraid of public speaking, no amount of liquid courage will help quell your nerves.
This specific type of public speaking tends to be particularly overwhelming, simply because it feels like there's a lot of pressure on you to perfectly capture your friend or family member's relationship in a witty and sentimental way. Basically, your friend is asking you to get up there and be some combination of Brené Brown and Amy Schumer — and that's stressful. Even though you know it's an honour to be asked, you might be shaking in your seat or secretly plotting ways to get out of the speech.
Often it's not the actual public speaking that makes people scared of these kinds of opportunities, it's the potential of being embarrassed or humiliated that's nerve-wracking, explains Josephine Lee, third-place winner in the Toastmasters World Championship of Public Speaking. "I think theres some part of our mind that believes that the audience wants us to fail or expects us to not do well," she says. At a wedding, this is obviously not the case, but anxiety has a way of making you believe that everyone is out to get you.