At some stage in your life, you’ll find yourself standing in front of hundreds of wedding guests beaming in your direction. Your favourite bloke has chosen you to deliver a killer best man speech hitting all the right notes.
You’ve got the glorious task of not only planning the ultimate stag do but crafting the speech of all speeches. Let’s face it – the best man speech is what everyone’s looking forward to with bated breath. The last thing you want to do is disappoint them with a tedious speech that’s as long as the bride’s wedding dress train.
Size matters. Here’s what you need to know to measure up…
Richard Branson recently wrote, “most of what anybody has to say of great note can fit on one side of paper”.
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. While this is all fine and well, your best man speech isn’t the next episode on Dragon’s Den.
After years of writing wedding speeches, we’ve worked out between 1,100 and 1,300 is what you want to aim for. This should bring you in just under ten mins – allowing for all the laughter you’ll hopefully generate. (Check out our advice on how to make your speech funny).
Keep It Simple (and Short), Stupid
Don’t get too crazy with elaborate stores from days gone by- keep the focus on the bride and groom and their special day. When in doubt, think about the good (and bad) speeches you’ve heard. There’s nothing worse than forcing a laugh for an inside joke you’re not part of right?
The average person speaks somewhere between 125 to 150 words per minute. Try and keep this in mind when you’re putting pen to paper. If you’re sitting on 6000 words, you’ll be talking for 45 minutes. (We witnessed a best man doing this once. He was heckled but continued on regardless).
When it comes to speeches, anecdotes, and even, words themselves – remember less is more.
Aim for punchy and sharp – not meandering and complex. If a punchline takes a long time to set up, consider dropping the anecdote altogether. Be ruthless with your editing.
Once you’ve got your masterpiece slapped into a Word document, it’ll come down to practising. Read it aloud, again and again, making sure you pause for that roaring laughter you’re going to be getting. A great trick is to film your speech on your phone so you can time yourself, as well as pick up areas you can improve – you are your best critic!
Back to Basics
Unleash your inner Sherlock Holmes. Uncover some hidden gems about the bride and groom. Nothing captures an audience like an anecdote, so dig a little deeper. Think embarrassing childhood fantasies or the classic university taboos.
Tell a story. It doesn’t have to be overly complicated, but a narrative will give your speech some structure and a bit of direction. Whether you’re trying to convince someone to buy something, invest in a product or believe in your bromance, a speech is all about the story. It’s what’s going to make it relatable and engaging. Sidebar – don’t get caught up in telling too many private jokes or cringe-worthy stories. Remember; relatable is going to be your hook.
Don’t waffle. When it comes to wedding speeches, less is more. 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.
Don’t forget the bride. Raise your glass to the bride and groom paying tribute to this new chapter. You can be a little tongue and cheek, throw in a joke or two, but don’t skip this step – it’s a special one. As tempting as it is to rip your mate to pieces, don’t forget this isn’t about you. Plus, it’s worth getting the bride in your corner if you ever want to see your best friend.
Delivery is everything. Like any public speaking, it’s about how you speak just as much as what you say. Be confident, clear and natural. Don’t let your nerves get the better of you. Knockback a little whisky and settle those jitters before you take the stage. Warning – if you want to get in with the bridesmaids, slurring is not a good look so don’t settle your nerves too much.
It’s a pretty amazing feeling when one of your best buds asks you to be his right-hand man. If you’re ever in doubt about something in your speech, check it with the groom or at least run it by another mate. As much as you want everything to be a surprise, it’s also worth understanding the boundaries, so your speech is positively received on the day.
One cardinal rule remains – don’t mention exes. No matter how funny you think it might be, it isn’t.
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