10 Tips for Writing a Best Man Speech
Being a best man is a huge responsibility – although he is mostly not at the center of attention, it is his work behind the scenes that ensures the success of a wedding ceremony. However, no matter how good you are at your other best man’s duties, what is going to make a lasting impression on the guests is the speech you deliver – and whatever else you do, you have to put some effort into writing it. So here are 10 tips that will help you write and deliver a killer speech that will be what everybody will remember about the ceremony for years to come.
1. Choose a Theme and Stick to It
Typically, the best man’s speech is all about the stories he shares. However, it is not enough to simply tell a few funny anecdotes about the newlyweds – even if they are interesting and hilarious individually, to make a proper impression they have to be relevant to each other. If you tell a set of disjointed stories that do not follow any specific pattern, you will leave the guests confused and the newlyweds disappointed. Instead, choose a topic that will run throughout your speech and build it around it.
2. It Is All about the Newlyweds
The best man has to maintain a balance between two positions. On the one hand, he is supposed to be the groom’s best friend, and thus justify his status by telling the audience about this friendship. On the other hand, the ceremony is not about him – it is about the newlyweds, their relationship, and their new marriage. So share a story or two about your friendship with the groom, but do not focus on it – basically, you simply have to show what a great guy the groom is and move on to what really matters – the two people who are getting married.
3. Do not Go Overboard with Jokes
Most people think that the best man’s speech should primarily be funny and lighthearted, but while a few jokes here and there are always a nice touch, you should not turn your speech into a stand-up routine.
Firstly, we are talking about two people joining their lives together, which calls for some degree of seriousness. Lumping one joke on top of another is going to dilute this feeling.
Secondly, while it is alright for you to joke about the groom who is your close friend, the bride is best left alone.
Thirdly, humor does not come naturally to many people. If you are not good at making people laugh, better do not try to do it at all lest you turn your speech into a cringefest.
4. Keep It Appropriate
If when you write your speech you have to stop and ask yourself whether what you are going to say is appropriate, the answer is usually “no”. Keep it in mind that the audience will most likely include people of varying ages and cultures with different kinds of relationships with the newlyweds. A story that may be perfectly alright to tell between pals over a drink may not be such a hit with the groom’s parents, grandparents, coworkers or for that matter, the bride as well.
5. Set a Time Limit
No matter how excellent your speech and its delivery are, do not overstay your welcome. Long speeches are always annoying, no exceptions. After you finish writing, practice delivering it, and if it takes you more than 5 minutes to do it, shorten it. Aim for 3 minutes, 5 minutes if you absolutely cannot cut anything else.
Rehearsing will not just improve your delivery, it will help you weed out potential problems when there is still time to do it. A speech that looks alright on paper may turn out to produce a much poorer impression when said out loud. Ideally, you should practice it with a friend who will point out flaws as he listens to you.
7. Get Feedback
Surprises are all nice and good, but some surprises just go a little too far. It is always a reasonable idea to get a second opinion about your speech before you deliver it, and especially so if you have a history of being just a little bit too candid. So, before you write up the final draft of your speech, get a neutral third party to listen to it and say what he/she thinks.
8. Do not Try to Play a Role
The best way to write and deliver a memorable best man’s speech is to avoid trying to behave in a way that is not natural for you. Be yourself and do what you would normally do. If you do not usually make a lot of jokes, do not force yourself. If you do not like to talk about your feelings, do not embarrass yourself. Say what you believe would be the best to let the audience know the groom a little better and do not try to fit a mold.
9. Keep It Varied
Even though you should build your speech around a single topic, it does not mean that you should keep your tone unchanged throughout. Add variety – make a joke, then tell a story that will make the audience tear up, then move on to an interesting story that will keep the listeners on their toes.
10. Ask for Help
However, what are you supposed to do if you were trusted with being a best man but you know for sure you are going to screw the speech up no matter how long you spend writing it? Well, there is nothing wrong about getting some speech writing help – after all, it is your job to make things pleasant and memorable for the couple and the audience, and who cares how you do it?
Of course, there is no single ideal way to write and deliver a best man’s speech. It depends on who you and the groom are, how long you know each other, and a thousand other things. However, if you follow these tips, you are bound to do a better job of it than if you approach it haphazardly.