6 Powerful Body Language Tips for Knocking Your Toast Out of the Park

It's not what you say, it's how you say it! And no, we're not just talking about the tone of your voice or your word choice. Body language can be the deciding factor between an epic wedding speech and an epic fail. If you're hoping and praying to fall into the former category, may we suggest taking a tip or two from these public speaking pros. After all, presentation is everything, right?

1. Stand Tall

We hate to break it to you, but delivering a speech while sitting down is a big no-no. Not only will you go unseen, the audience will naturally tune you out too, notes millennial career expert for WORKS Jill Jacinto. "Stand tall with your shoulders back," she advises. "You'll feel more confident in this pose than leaning to one side, no matter how uncomfortable your heels are."

2. Use Your Hands

And be mindful of where you put them. "I've seen people give wedding speeches with their arms crossed or their hands in their pockets and it comes across as awkward," warns Matt Dalley of Our Big Day NYC. "Although it can feel weird at first, putting your hands at your sides is a fine default position. It looks confident and isn't distracting." You can also use your hands to illustrate or emphasize points within your speech, such as making a phone call, knocking on a door, etc.

3. Move Around

In other words, don't hide behind a table or podium. Instead, Carl Christman, professor of Speech at La Sierra University, recommends walking out into the middle of the stage or dance floor, standing up straight and moving around while talking. "This will help prevent the speech from coming across as stiff and boring."

4. Make Eye Contact

And try to maintain it throughout your speech. You'll want to lock eyes with the entire room, but really laser in frequently on the married couple, says communications expert and speaker Ruth Sherman.

5. Hold the Mic at Mouth Level

As opposed to bending over and stretching to reach it, instructs Sherman. "You need to hold it close enough so that the voice is well amplified, yet not so close that the sound is distorted."

6. Breathe

Before you step on stage, it's important to get your breathing right, making sure your exhale is longer than your inhale. Why? Well, as Toastmaster and public speaking coach Renee Tabor explains, when your exhalation is longer than your inhalation, it triggers a relaxation response in the brain. She suggest doing a "5-7-9" breathing technique three times. "Inhale for 5 counts, hold for 7 and exhale for 9. This simple exercise will calm your nerves and help you gain some perspective."

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