5 easy ways to make your best man speech extra special

It’s your best mates wedding and he’s asked you to give a speech. That’s a big ask, and I get it if you’re freaking out a little bit. It feels like the be all and end all of the whole day but actually it’s not as hard as you think to make a best man speech that not only wows the guests and keeps the mother of the bride happy, but will also be talked about for weddings to come.

Here’s are easy tips to make your best man speech something that will keep you in the groom’s good books for years.

1. Keep it Personal

You’re probably tempted to find a pre-written speech template and just fill in the blanks. Don’t this is actually the worst thing you can do. The happy couple asked you to give you  a speech presumably because you are close to them and matter to them.  You’ve made some memories together so use the speech to talk about that. Talk about the things that matter to you and the groom, don’t just read out a pre-written set of internet jokes you found on Google.

2. Keep it Original

You can buy whole books full of ‘best man jokes’; I know because my rivals sell them and make a lot more money than I do. But here’s the truth about those books. They suck! Yes you’ll get a laugh (at least if you manage to deliver the jokes correctly, a tough ask when you’re nervous and already 3 pints down) but they come with a whole load of problems on their own.

  • Everyones heard them before
  • A lot of them rely on being sexism or vulgarity. (The mother of the bride is watching you!)
  • They show that you don’t have anything original to say

It’s not your job to be a comedian – that requires a lot more effort, research and childhood trauma. It’s your job to talk about the groom. So stick to stories about him. Talk about funny memories, stupid things he did as a kid or weird habits he has. Exaggerate his flaws, overplay his bald spot, rant about his inferior choice in football teams… but don’t just repeat a bunch of one-liners. A complete stranger from the street could do that, and I’m presuming you’re a little bit closer to the groom than a complete stranger.

3. Keep it Simple

This is my favourite tip. It’s the secret, not just of a great speech, but of all great writing; You should be able to sum up what you’re saying in one sentence; If you can’t then you’re trying to say too much.  You’ll lose your train of thought, bore the guests  and end up talking too long.

To give you an idea how this works let me share the key theme of some best man speeches I’ve worked on recently.

  • John supports the wrong team and I’m going to use this speech to tell him why.
  • Mark will always be an awkward 5 year old kid with an afro to me even if he can kick my butt now.
  • I know all of Jamie’s secrets and he didn’t pay me enough to not share them with you
  • Stephens approaches life the same way he approaches dirt racing and, in both, he normally ends up crashing.

Once you have your theme all you have to do is make sure your stories tie in with it.  If you can’t make the stories fit then don’t tell them. This will tie your whole speech into a coherent whole which, believe it or not, makes you a lot more interesting to listen to an will keep the guests hanging on your every word.

4. Keep it Emotional

Look, I know you’re no softy.  You’ve got no intentions of crying in the middle of your speech, especially as you’re trying to hit on one of the bridesmaids. But that doesn’t mean you have a robot. The best speaker’s understand the power of emotion and use it to their advantage. The groom means a lot to you? Then tell him that. You love how happy the bride has made him? Let her know. You’ve been through some really tough times and the Groom was the only reason you came out it ok? Share it with the guests!

Not only is the only chance you’re ever going to get but it will also make your speech ten times more powerful. Put some humanity in your toast and people will be buying you drinks all night long. And, trust me, that bridesmaid will be a lot more interested in you after you’ve made her tear up at your ‘beautiful words’.

5. Keep it short

Even if you can’t do any of the others, do this. Aim for 5-7 minutes. That’s about 700-1000 words. Go shorter if you want to, that’s fine too as long as you say what needs to be said. But don’t ever, ever speak for more than 10 minutes. It’s not your day and it’s not about you. And the longer you keep talking the less time people have to get the bar. So keep your speech focused and to the point and there’s more time for the father of the bride to start getting the rounds in.

 

Best man speeches don’t have to be hard, but it’s easy to make  them hard. All you have to do is overthink them, fill them with irrelevant over used jokes, or try to fit in every single thing you can think of.

Instead, keep your speech personal, original, simple, emotional and short and you will win the crowd round every time.

Just don’t too good a job, or the groom will make you do a speech at his next wedding as well….

How long should my wedding speech be?

One of the first questions everyone asks me is “How long should my speech be.”

It seems to one of the biggest worries. Talk for too long and people will get bored. Talk for too little and they’ll probably be offended.

So what’s the right length for a wedding speech. The short answer is about 5- 10 minutes. But of course it’s slightly more complicated than that.

So here are some things to think about when writing the perfect speech.

Continue reading

The one thing your Best Man speech must have to be a success

You’ve written the perfect Best Man speech, spent ages perfecting your punchlines, got the timing spot on and even remembered to mention the bride.

It’s going to be the greatest Best man speech ever.

But wait. There’s one thing most Best Men forget and it’s the difference between success and disaster. Fortunately though, it’s also one of the easiest things to speak.

What makes a speech matter?

Think of a famous historical speech for a moment… Any historical speech. I’ll wait…

Got one?

Many of you will have thought of Martin Luther Kings, “I have a dream” speech. Or maybe Churchill’s “fight on the beaches” speech, Lincoln’s Gettysburg address, or even Mikey’s speech from the Goonies.

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“I have a dream, that one day all Goonies will walk freely along the goon docks…”

It doesn’t matter. All great speeches have one thing in common, one thing that elevates them from a regular speech to something will be remembered. It’s not the words that are used, or the way they are said. It’s not the skill of the speaker, the cadence of the words or even the very message you’re trying to get across.

It’s the contract between the speaker and the audience that matters.

Get that right, and everything else follows.

The Best Man’s Contract

Being invited to speak at a wedding is a big deal. It is the Bride and Groom’s way of saying, “I care about you, and I want to listen to what you have to say.”

That’s their part of the contract. But you have a part in it too. And this is where so many Best man get it wrong.

Most people when they write their speech think of it like this – “This is important to me, and I want to tell you why.”

With this in mind, they write speeches that are focused on themselves, telling stories they think will get the biggest laughs, recalling the most embarrassing moments for the groom, listing his worst faults, and inevitably, making the groom want to punch them somewhere around the 3rd minute.

The difference between a terrible best man speech and a great man is to change just two words- You are important to me. And I want to tell you why.”

Hang on. Are things about to get soppy?

I know, I know… this sounds like I’m asking you to break into tears and declare your undying love to the groom. But bear with me.

Declaring your undying love for the groom isn’t what I’m suggesting. That can only end one of two ways, neither of which will particulary endear you to the bride’s family.

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“I just… HATE the bride SO much..!”

But “You are important to me. And I want to tell you why.” is the foundation of all great speeches.

When Dr King spoke at the Lincoln Memorial he didn’t talk about how great the movement was. Instead he shared one constant message, “You matter. You are equal. You can create change.”

When Churchill talked about fighting on the beaches he wasn’t trying to make people think he was a great leader. He was saying over and over, “You, the British people, are strong. You are resilient. You will face hard times but you will get over them. And I know that you will continue to fight.”

And when Mikey told the Goonies “it’s our time, our time, down here,” he wasn’t saying he thought they were cowards for not wanting to go on. He was saying, “You matter. We matter. We are important. We need to do this for us.”

None of these speeches are wet or soppy. But they are emotional. Their is emotion behind every word. And it is the emotion that gives the words power. It is the emotion that burns the words into people’s minds. And It is the emotion that people will remember long after the words are gone.

What does this mean for your Best Man’s speech?

So am I saying you should write an epic poem about your bromance? Of course not; bromance poems are terrible.

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But you do have to remember that this speech is not about you. It’s not your big day, it’s the groom’s. And he’s important to you. Use your speech to tell him, and everyone else, why.

When you slag him off, remember that’s he’s your best mate. When you list his flaws remember they’re part of the reason you like him. When you talk about the bride remember just how how happy she makes him.

And don’t even dare to raise that final toast unless you have found someway, even just one word, in one line, to tell the groom, and everyone else,  exactly what he means to you.

Make him feel stupid, clumsy, selfish, vain, ridiculous and like the most important person in the room. If you can’t do that no-one can.

Remember: Every great speech says the same thing: “You are important to me and I want to tell you why.

Test every word of your speech against this standard. It’s part of your speech contract and you owe it to the groom. I guarantee you, if you get this right, you will not only have everyone laughing at your jokes, but you will have them wiping away tears of joy too.

And it’s that which makes a speech matter. It that which makes people remember what you had to say. And it’s that which gets you all the free drinks at the reception.

Of course, when the speech is over, and your part of the contract is fulfilled, you can go back to treating him like the knobhead he really is.

Does your Father of the Bride toast have any of these common mistakes?

The father of the bride gets a rum deal. He’s on duty all day long from giving his daughter away at the start of the wedding to buying everyone drinks at the reception. On top of that he also has to give the first of the speeches. Some people think the best man has the hardest job, but by the time he his to speak the audience have been already enjoyed at least 2 speeches and are starting to feel nice and drunk. The father of the Bride gets to be the warm up man. Continue reading

Huff Po’s Tips for Public Speaking

Sometimes it’s a good idea to remember Public Speaking’s not all doom and gloom.

And it’s not, It’s meant to be “fun” to stand up and speak, or at least rewarding, and I genuinely believe that a well written speech can be a joy to deliver.

But just incase that’s not enough Greg Mania at the Huffington Post has tried to remind us not to take it too all seriously with his Tips for Public speaking, including such Gem’s as:

  • Know the space – Locate the nearest exit to run out of when someone asks a question you can’t answer
  • Avoid relying on your notes too much – If you feel like you’re looking down too much just start reciting the lyrics to Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody”
  • Know your star sign – Because you should always be prepared to date at a moment’s notice!!! Even if you’re in the middle of a presentation!

You can read this not particularly useful, but still quite fun post, in full here – Tips for Public Speaking