How to nail your best man speech
Ever had to sit through a really bad best man speech? Or just an average boring one? Chances are you have.
Best men speeches have become a bit cliched over the last decade, especially with the amount of poor quality templates knocking around online. Luckily you’ve landed here; home of the Speechy scriptwriters (BBC trained the lot of us). We want to teach people how to write blooming brilliant speeches; ones that will be remembered for all the right reasons (and not because it went on for thirty minutes, contained three jokes and got the bride’s mum heckling -true story).
Best man speech etiquette
We know, we know. It’s dull but there’s a few ‘to dos’ with every best man speech. Luckily you’ve got the least to worry about when it comes to traditional etiquette.
Here’s the basic structure of a best man speech…
- The focus should be a witty description of the groom. The main aim is to get lots of laughs but here’s the tricky bit, it should also be a thoughtful acknowledgement of a friendship.
- Of course the best man must compliment the bride. It helps if this sounds sincere.
- Traditionally the best man reads out messages from friends and family who can’t attend the wedding but that’s becoming less common. Speak to the groom about what he wants to do but push for these updates to be done privately (generally they’re not very funny).
- Some best men like to compliment the bridesmaids but it’s actually the groom’s job. Your choice really, but keep it short if you do.
- According to Debretts the best man speech usually includes a toast to ‘Mr and Mrs [newlywed’s Surname]’ and might announce the cutting of the cake. At Speechy we prefer to find a unique way to toast the newly-hitched– even if it’s just to ‘the coolest couple this side of the Hog’s Head’.
The 5 rules to writing a great best man’s speech
Rule 1 Dig Up The Dirt
Before you start writing your speech, gather good material. Imagine you’re that bloke off Time Team – get digging and get dirty. Email your mates and ask for their favourite groom stories. Ask the groom’s family for embarrassing childhood stories and find out if the bride is giving a speech. If not, get her on side to spill a few secrets. As well as the embarrassing stuff, remember to gather the evidence that the groom’s a damn fine specimen of a bloke and include that in your best man speech too.
Rule 2 Be Funny
Yep we know you know this one – but how exactly do you nail being funny? Well it certainly isn’t about finding good jokes on the internet (if only it was that easy), rather it’s making witty observations about the groom. This involves pin-pointing their individual characteristics and exaggerating them for maximum effect.Some best men go too far with trying to embarrass the groom. Extreme teasing, yes. Proper humiliation, no. Absolutely no mention of exes and nothing saucier than innuendo. Remember there’s grannies out there.
Rule 3 Tell a story
Get this right and you go into the best man premier league. Rather than just a collection of anecdotes and the usual stuff, creating a theme and building a narrative ensures your speech is crafted rather than just a cut and paste job. The theme doesn’t need to be complicated, it might just be a retelling of your bro-mance and its tragic end when the bride came on the scene. Finding the right theme depends on the personality of the groom, but you need to crack it before you begin drafting your speech.
Rule 4 Less in More
You’re aiming for eight to 10 minutes for a best man speech (bit longer allowing for laughter and ad libs). Remember no one ever witnessed a best man speech and said ‘if only it was longer’. Even if you have a wealth of material, be strict with yourself. Once you write your first draft, edit it down to half the length and we guarantee it will be better. Bear in mind Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address was only 272 words long. People are generally more powerful when their words are punchy. It’s the same with jokes – keep ’em snappy.
Rule 5 Be Sweet
Once you’ve got the embarrassing stories out of the way, a best man speech should be a heart-felt tribute to a true friend. Don’t resort to clichés about him being a ‘top bloke’ without providing the evidence that he actually is. Pinpoint the things you genuinely like about him. Is he the first to get a round at the bar? Is he the only bloke who can make you feel better about your DIY skills? Is he still the mate with cool music suggestions? Remember to keep it NUT – Nice, Unique and True(ish).
Best Man Speech - Do's and Don'ts
Check with the groom – anything he wants you to do (other than not abusing him)?
Practise your speech and film it on your phone – Watch it back, promise yourself you’ll do something about your paunch and spot where your speech can be improved.
Prepare to deliver – Make sure the groom has checked the acoustics of the venue and ordered a mic if necessary (you wouldn’t believe how many speeches are ruined simply because the guests can’t hear them). On the day, pretend to be confident. Make eye contact and remember to smile. It’s scientifically proven to be infectious and those scientists know stuff.
Talk slower than feels natural – It’s what those authoritative people do to make themselves seem more intelligent.
Thank anyone – It’s not your day and it’s not your job.
Ignore the feedback of friends – It’s always worth testing your speech out on a mate but this also means you have to listen to them. If they don’t get a joke, don’t waste your time explaining it as you won’t be able to do that on the day.
Talk over laughter – You’ve worked hard for those laughs – don’t rush them. Always wait until your guests have settled down before continuing with your speech.
Be afraid to use cue cards – Try to memorise the speech but don’t be afraid to use notes on the day (your brain will be scrambled).
Best Man Speech Help
Speechy is here to help best men in need. As professional TV scriptwriters we’re programmed to entertain and get the best out of people. We sweat the hard stuff so you don’t have to.
Contact us to have a natter about how we can help.