Propose through the seasons

Zero-stress proposal speech: 5 tips from a speaker coach


Asking your partner to marry you is undoubtedly a slightly nerve-wracking task. What if you suddenly find yourself at a loss for words? How can you avoid completely drying up? We asked Stefanie Van Moen, founder and speaker coach at Vox Consult how to compose the perfect proposal speech. Read her five tips on how to get that big question out below!

1. Make sure you thoroughly prepare your proposal speech

Perhaps you would like to introduce your proposal with a short and snappy speech or look back on the cutest anecdotes from your time as a couple. Should you rehearse your proposal speech beforehand or go for the spontaneous approach? According to Stefanie, it’s best to choose the first option:

“Think beforehand about the things you definitely want to mention during your proposal. Stand up straight and imagine you are standing in front of your partner. What feeling do you want to convey? What do you want to convey? Practice your text out loud, and hear yourself say the words. Your opening sentence is very important here. If you use it during your proposal, the rest often comes naturally! So don’t stick to a (too) literal script. Do you want to get on your knee during the proposal? Then practise getting in this position to avoid potentially awkward moments. Careful, make sure your partner is not around…”.

2. Focus on your breathing

How do you avoid starting to quake nervously during your proposal speech? According to Stefanie, employing the right breathing technique plays a big role here:

“Breathing is the foundation of everything! You may have the best text or the funniest anecdotes, but if your breathing is nervous or stagnant, it won’t really come across. Inhale briefly before you start talking and then exhale for a very long time. This signals your body to relax. Don’t start with a deep inhalation, as this will lead to an increased speech rate until you run out of breath. There is then a chance that your partner will not have understood you properly.

People often think that a blackout happens ‘suddenly’. Nothing could be further from the truth. When your breathing goes out of control and your heart rate skyrockets, extra stress hormones are released. As a result, you have little or even no access to your cortex memory or improvisational ability. So it’s safe to say that proper breathing does become truly indispensable for a successful proposal.”

3. Consciously build in breaks

Stefanie also has a tip ready for people who think they might stutter during a proposal speech:

“When you are nervous, you might start to stutter or stumble over your words. This is because you are often already thinking about the next sentence coming up. Therefore, insert short pauses. Dare to say nothing, build up tension. For you, these pauses may seem like an eternity, but for your overwhelmed partner, they certainly can’t hurt. Dare to put on the brakes, then the impact of your beautiful question is still so great!”

4. Stand -literally- strong in your shoes

How do you make sure you come across as confident and self-assured during your proposal speech? Stefanie encourages you to trust your body:

“Beforehand, try standing in the so-called ‘power pose’ or ‘superman pose’. Stretch yourself open, pull your shoulders back, stick your chin forward and smile. This way, your brain becomes convinced that everything will be okay. In fact, if you stand small, your breathing becomes more restricted again, and you create the opposite effect.”

5. Come with a plan… and go with the flow

Stefanie has lots of technical tips for your perfect proposal speech, but she concludes:

“Come with a plan… and go with the flow! That is absolutely my favourite quote! Things can always turn out differently from how you imagined. So you don’t have to stick to the perfect plan for a successful proposal. Let go of your script if it feels right, and… enjoy your beautiful moment together! Enjoy, smile, look your lover in the eye and tell them what you feel. In that special moment, you are the only two people on Earth…”

About Stefanie Van Moen

Stefanie Van Moen is a speaker coach – she is the voice therapist and coach behind Vox Consult and an accredited Insights Discovery® practitioner.

Her passion? Coaching speakers to deliver their message in a confident and powerful way while connecting with their audience. Her goal as a voice coach is to give you a solid foundation in voice and presentation techniques so that you have space to add your own personal touch, individuality and vision. She’ll work with you to find your unique storytelling style and speaking techniques so you can sound the way you want every time you do a presentation, speech, lesson or recording.

Have Stefanie Van Moen’s tips for the perfect proposal speech left you wanting more? Then check out Stefanie’s latest book: Spreken met impact! 

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