His is the most eagerly awaited of all wedding speeches for its entertainment value and so the pressure is on the best man to deliver.
Some say it’s a bigger job than being a groom. You have to look after your best friend and keep things running smoothly, and your speech is crucial to your success – it can make or break you.
Get the audience on side
Traditionally it’s the last speech of the celebration so the build-up is a tense time for the best man as he listens to others speaking. People remember the best man’s speech because it’s either a good one or excruciatingly bad.
The keys to a successful speech are to get your audience on side and keep it short – 10 minutes at most. There will be plenty of guests dreading sitting through lengthy stories about a man they barely know, recounted by a man they’ve never met, so here are a few tips:
- Be confident, as you know the groom really well.
- Introduce yourself and say why you are good friends with the groom.
- People expect you to be funny so create impact from the start with a killer opening line, perhaps a joke that you’re confident with and have tried on others beforehand.
- Think of your audience and appeal to all ages by weaving something in for everyone into the speech.
It’s impressive to improvise
It’s good to have a structure for the speech, perhaps by moving briefly and wittily through stages in the groom’s life. Try not to read from a script as it could come across as a bit dry and contrived. Instead, use cue cards cards with bullet points on each so you don’t lose yourself. This does involve rehearsing in front of others before the day. It’s more impressive to improvise or bring in off-the-cuff comments about the day, such as something funny or moving.
You will earn brownie points by saying how brilliant you think the wedding has been thanks to the huge effort that’s gone into it.
It’s a good idea to praise the bride on how she looks and say what a brilliant woman she is. Don’t forget to congratulate the couple.
Don’t waffle or panic
Another tip is not to drink too much as you need your wits about you; overdrink and your judgement may be impaired. It’s important not to panic or waffle but speak slowly and clearly. We’ve all heard a speech where someone’s rambling has turned people off listening. Get a sense of the size of the room and how your voice will carry when there isn’t a
microphone. Check that guests can hear you at the back.
Divide the speech into three sections: the opening, main part and the end. Each section should flow smoothly into the next.
Sprinkle with funny anecdotes
You are painting a picture of the groom and your relationship with him but it’s not about you. For the main part of the speech you can tell funny stories and outline what a great person the groom is. Remember that what seemed a hilarious incident to you at the time might not translate that well to a different audience sat in front of you.
Be charitable and reflect affection in what you say, don’t humiliate or be rude and avoid controversy at all cost. It’s OK to make jokes at the groom’s expense without overstepping the mark. Always play safe and don’t be crude. No-one will thank you for making them feel uncomfortable.
A sprinkling of funny but brief anecdotes is needed. Each story builds a picture of the groom’s life and character. Ask other friends for their funniest memories and use them in the speech.
Keep the stories nice and simple, particularly if you’re not used to public speaking. Recount anything complex and you’ll have the guests reaching for even more wine!
Hopefully, if your best man speech goes down a storm, everyone will raise their glasses and toast the ‘man of the moment’.