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How Long Should A Best Man Speech Be?

How Long Should A Best Man Speech Be?

Because the only thing worse than sitting through a bad speech is a really long bad speech, it’s crucial you get the length right. We've got all the tips and tricks to make your best man speech unforgettable for all the right reasons.

(*Of course, if you’re looking for more than ‘advice’, check out all the different ways the Speechy team can help you write & deliver a great speech. Or check out our new AI-powered team member, SpeechyAI.)

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IDEAL SPEECH LENGTH

Richard Branson recently wrote, ‘Most of what anybody has to say of great note can fit on one side of paper’ and while that’s true, your job isn’t just to pay a fitting tribute to the groom, it’s also to entertain a crowd. 

According to neuroscience and the studies behind the critically acclaimed TED Talks, 15 to 18 minutes is the ultimate sweet spot for a business pitch but let’s face it, you’re not trying to pitch the solution to climate change or explain why we dream. You’re just trying to make people laugh. A twenty-minute wedding speech is far too long and unfortunately, far too common. 

‘Remember, no one ever listened to a speech and said ‘I wish it was longer’, said Speechy’s Top Dog, Heidi Ellert-McDermott, when she was invited on to BBC Sounds ‘Best Men’ podcast with Jason Manford and Steve Edge.  Quite simply, less is more.

After years of writing wedding speeches, we’ve worked out that the sweet spot for a best man speech is between 1,100 and 1,300 words.

That’s enough to say everything you need to say, whilst not giving anyone the opportunity to say they have to nip to the bathroom halfway through. 

A speech that’s less than 1,300 words will ensure you can deliver your speech in just under ten minutes – even allowing for all the laughter you’ll hopefully generate. (And check out our advice on how to make your speech funny if you’re worried about that!)

Of course, as well as a maximum wordcount, the minimum wordcount we’d recommend for the best man speech is 750 words and that’s only if you’ve been asked to keep it short. Anything less and the newlyweds might feel a little disappointed by your lack of effort.

The basic rule is a minimum of five minutes, and a maximum of ten – though in ‘The Modern Couple’s Guide to Wedding Speeches’, wedding influencer Alison Hargreaves reminds us that ‘delivering a speech shouldn’t take longer than it does to consummate the marriage’. Depends on the groom I guess? 

Whatever the case – the key to delivering a good speech is to keep it punchy – from the overall narrative to every anecdote and every single line.

Here’s how… 

Groom Speaking at Wedding Reception

KEEP IT PUNCHY 

Got a great story but it takes a lot of explaining? Forget about it.  If it takes more than 100 words before you get the laughter, then the story isn’t one for the speech (maybe one for the bar later). 

Aim for punchy and sharp – not meandering and complex. 

Don’t forget you’re one of many speakers. Naturally, you want your speech to be the best, but you don’t want to be the prick who hogs the limelight. We’ve all been to those weddings where the speeches roll on into eternity. Guests are stuck watching their drinks run dry, attempting to mask those tummy rumbles as they eagerly await the main course. Don’t be the reason everyone sobers up.

Be ruthless with your editing. Even Ernest Hemingway reckoned ‘The first draft of anything is shit’ so once you have your first draft, try your best to edit it in half. We promise, your speech will be better after a bit of brutality! 

When you’ve got a speech draft you’re happy with, time yourself as you rehearse it. If you come in well within the ten-minute limit, don’t make the mistake of thinking you have more time to play with and adding more to the speech necessarily. On the day, you’ll need to pause for laughter and emphasis so those minutes will quickly be gobbled up.

Read our How To Deliver A Wedding Speech blog to make sure pace your speech and land those punchlines perfectly. 

TIMING OVERVIEW (basic guide) 

  1. Hello and welcome. 45 sec. Introduce yourself, how you know the groom, and add some essential humour. Original humour not googled! 
  2. Stories about the groom. 4-5 mins. Generally, you need about 3 or 4 good anecdotes about the groom that illustrate his character in action (British best men generally concentrate on his character flaws but not all best men do!).One cardinal rule remains – don’t mention exes. No matter how funny you think it might be, it isn’t.
  3. Tribute to the groom’s partner – 1 min. And not a second less. Say more than the usual cliches about them looking nice and making the groom a better person. Show you know them a bit (and do a bit of research if you don’t!). 
  4. Genuine tribute to the groom. 1 min. This is the bit where you get a bit teary eyed about your mate and say the sort of things you’d normally only utter at 3am in a kebab shop. Highlight his greatest attributes and show how much you value his as a friend. (Fine to include some humour in this section too, as you never want more than 30 seconds without a laugh). 
  5. Raise a toast to the couple. 45 secs. Back ref one of your stories or insights from earlier in the speech to make the toast, not only original but witty too – putting your speech in the premier league. 

CHECK OUT HOW SPEECHY CAN HELP YOU NAIL YOUR BEST MAN SPEECH BELOW! 

The Speechwriting Experts

The Speechy team are TV-trained scriptwriters/comedians by trade & we’ve helped 1,000s of speakers around the world deliver their dream speech.

Our advice has been quoted everywhere from The New York Times to Grazia and from Forbes to The Observer. Our founder has also featured on the BBC Sounds’ Best Men podcast with Jason Manford and written ‘The Modern Couple’s Guide to Wedding Speeches’, published by Little, Brown.

Heidi and the Speechy Team

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We’re rated ‘Excellent' on Trustpilot for a reason...

''I had an unbelievable experience working with Speechy. From the moment I got in touch with them I felt supported and come the day of my best mans speech, it went down a storm with a standing ovation.''
''Speechy deserves more than 5 stars. (They) produced a factual, funny Mother of the Bride speech with just the right amount of emotion..... it was ingenious. Thank you so much for the wonderful & priceless memory of having delivered my speech at my daughter’s wedding and nailed it ... and got a standing ovation too. My children were very proud of me, including my new son-in-law! ''
''These Guys are tremendous! One main point is that its not their speech - its yours! This is because it is based totally around what you would like to say, but its the spin that Speechy puts on it, that is the magical bit... Ordinary words become a hilariously entertaining event. There were giggles, applauds, laughs, tears, cheers and standing ovation – all in that order!''
''Feeling anxious or stressed about an upcoming speech? Look no further than Speechy... I just delivered my Best Man speech this past weekend and absolutely crushed it. I was nervous leading up to the moment, but while delivering my speech, I didn't want the experience to end, the room was hooked, and laughing at every joke. Worth every penny... Thank you!''
''Navigating through the wedding industry often feels like you’re stuck on a conveyer belt....Speechy is the complete opposite. They treat you and your wedding like you’re the one and only. I couldn’t recommend them more.''
''Heidi and the whole team at Speechy are an absolute gem! In addition to their talent and extensive experience in speech writing, Heidi had an impressive way of listening to me talk about mine and my partners personal anecdotes, before putting it in such a funny and beautiful way that it felt as though she’d known us for years.''
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