A Guide to the Best Man Speech

A Guide to the Best Man Speech

Congrats you’re the best man! It’s a pretty good feeling when one of your friends or relatives asks you to be their right hand for the wedding. But lurking beyond all the fun, harmless stuff planning an epic bachelor party and crushing the dance floor, to name a couple is your final, and arguably most meaningful, duty: the best man speech.

The best man speech is a massive part of the wedding, so make sure yours is memorable. There are many areas to think about while preparing your address; who is in the audience, how big is the audience, how long should the speech be, should I be telling jokes and so on. Below we’ve listed essential best man speech tips on dealing with these questions and guidelines you can use to write your speech.

When it comes to public speaking, about 10 per cent of the population loves it, and about 10 per cent is deathly afraid of it. No matter which camp you fall into, you can always boost your chances of making your best man speech a hit by preparing well.

At some point in your life, one of your buddies or your brother will probably ask you to be the best man at his wedding. This is a great honour. One of the duties of a best man is to give a speech wherein you say a few kind words about your friend/brother and his new wife. If you’ve been to many weddings, you know that oftentimes best man speeches can quickly devolve into an awkward, drunken spectacle. The mixture of booze and lack of preparation results in the best man rambling and sharing inappropriate and embarrassing stories about the groom in front of hundreds of family and friends.


Essential Best Man Speaking Tips     

Do your homework and plenty of practice.

Being prepared is the key to any successful speech. Write down bullet points of your key message, jokes, quotes etc. Spend time revising the content of your speech using different tips from our blog, adding in literary techniques, noting tactical pauses and best ways to end a speech.

Once the speech is written, spend hours practising it, the more you practise, the less nervous you will be, and the more natural you will sound. Don’t learn your speech off by heart, learn some key points and improvise around them. This will make you sound less wooden and monotonic.

Open by expressing gratitude.

Thank the ones that made the day possible, the happy couple’s parents (single them out by name) and offer a toast to them for raising two fine people. Don’t forget to thank the audience, as well. It’s a good idea to say something about how beautiful the bride looks and what a remarkable woman she is – this is guaranteed to go down well with everyone.

Introduce yourself to everyone

Many people at the wedding won’t know who you are. Briefly say who you are and why you’re such good friends with the groom.

Speak confidently and clearly

You know the groom better than most, so take the chance to introduce the real him to everyone. Talk slowly and clearly, taking time to pause and take deep breaths. Have a glass of water you can sip on during the speech, to help calm the nerves and break up the speech.

Get a joke in early.

Getting a joke in early will help relax the mood. Spend time preparing the right joke – funny but not offensive, something that will appeal across all age groups, and make sure you learn it by heart.

Self-deprecation can go a long way, so it might be something told at your own expense. The audience will expect the speech to be somewhat funny, so starting strongly will help to engage the audience.

Tell a story

Every great man speech includes a story, which could be how you met the bridegroom or a funny incident which you both went through. You can also tell a story about when you realized your friend had found his other half, or about when your friend would complain about being single for so long. Tread carefully when telling these and don’t cross the line with them!

Stay away from controversial topics.

Anything embarrassing or offensive should be avoided by all means. Although this is common sense, once you get up there with a mic in front of you and a crowd waiting to see what you have to say, the situation might be so tense that cracking a crude joke or sharing an embarrassing story may seem perfect to lighten the mood. You’ll be left with a frozen audience that doesn’t want to laugh at the expense of the bridegroom.

Best to avoid past relationships

Try to avoid talking about the groom’s past relationships or reveal what you thought of the bride when you first laid eyes on her. Winking at the bride with comments such as “looking forward to the honeymoon” is absolutely out of the question when writing your best man speech!

Keep it short

Ideally, the best man’s speech should be no more than 1,000 words. The guests have already listened to the bride’s father and maid of honour speeches and are minutes away from eating the cake, so shoot for five minutes tops.

Summarise your friend’s good character

After the bulk of your speech, make sure you list the essential qualities of the groom which you have discovered over the years. You want the audience to think you’re a nice guy and convince the bride she picked the right man to marry!

End with a quote

Wrap everything you have said up nicely by ending with a quote, such as: “Giving a best man speech is a choice. And, these two people have clearly chosen!”

Propose a toast

It’s time to raise your glass and toast for a lifetime of happiness and love for the couple or something to this effect.


Best Man Speech – things to avoid

  • Inside jokes – you and a handful of people might find them funny, no one else will
  • Getting drunk – even though it may be tempting to calm the nerves beforehand
  • Panic and get too nervous – the key to avoiding this is to practice the speech until you really know it
  • Waffling – keep to 5 minutes of good quality content
  • Reading straight from an A4 sheet – take bullet points written on cue cards instead
  • Speaking too quietly or loudly – record your voice and play it back to yourself to hear what you sound like
  • Discussing complex topics – the audience will be left clueless if you talk about his latest PhD work


Basics Tips for Giving a Best Man Speech

If you have the honour of being the best man, you’re probably wondering how to write a best man speech. The good news is that there are several great best man speech tips to boost your odds of success, says Dominic Bliss, wedding writer and author of Being the Best Man for Dummies. Study up on these helpful pointers below to minimize pre-speech jitters and ensure a smooth delivery.

Plan way ahead.

The first tip in our guide on how to write a best man speech is to plan far in advance. Do not procrastinate. “Start writing a best man speech at least two months before the wedding,” Bliss says. “As the wedding nears, there are lots of events—suit fittings and a coed shower, perhaps—that could distract you from getting your writing done.”

Grab their attention.

“Kick off with a killer opening line,” Bliss says. Get everyone’s attention and set the mood by starting your speech off with a great one-liner.

Be strategic about your jokes.

Make jokes about the groom, but leave his new spouse alone. Bliss says to keep any teasing focused on your buddy, whom we’re guessing you’re closer to.

Practice with an audience. 

This tip is a must when it comes to how to write a best man speech. Even if you think you have this whole thing in the bag, practice delivering your speech out loud at least three times. Whip out your phone, take a video and watch the playback to get a feel for how it’s going. (Do you say “um” between every sentence? Are your gestures a little robotic?) “Or send it to a close friend who won’t be going to the wedding and who can give you honest feedback,” Bliss says.

Write it down. 

Memorizing is fine if you have a great memory, but you’ll feel a lot more confident if you have a written speech—or at least a few bullet points to keep you on track. Nerves can mess with your memory, so don’t think you’re a failure if you have to bring notes up there with you. Bliss suggests using small note cards instead of a sheet of paper since they “won’t flap around.” Nowadays, many groomsmen will even read off their cell phone screens out of convenience. 

Add variety.

“Vary the pace and tone of your best man speech,” Bliss says. Do you know those movies that make you laugh, and then make you cry, or have action and romance? Aim for that in your best man speech. The variety will keep your speech interesting and strike the emotional chords of your audience.

Don’t mumble. 

“Enunciate your words loudly and clearly,” Bliss says. A great best man speech becomes boring if it’s delivered monotone, and it’s nonexistent if everyone is straining to hear from you. Speak confidently and slowly otherwise all that speech practice will be for nothing!

Have a backup plan. 

“If you feel your speech flagging, you can always turn the attention toward the couple and announce cheerfully, ‘Aren’t they a gorgeous couple?!’ This will always get a cheer from your audience,” Bliss says.


How To Write A Best Man Speech – Detailed Guide

The Opening

Like any form of public speaking, you need to have your audience on the side right from the beginning. Be confident. After all, you know the groom better than most in the room, and your best man speech is the perfect chance to introduce him to everybody else!

  • Introduce yourself and say why you are best friends with the groom.
  • Outline your speech (briefly).
  • Feel free to improvise rather than sticking to the script you have prepared at home. Maybe something struck you as moving or funny during the ceremony. Mention it!
  • Praise the bride early on (personality, looks, etc.) to buy goodwill right from the start and set everyone she knows at ease.
  • Consider self-deprecation as it is something that will appeal across all age groups, and it a great way to get a joke in early.

The Main Section Of The Speech

The important thing to remember is that the speech is not about you but the groom. Therefore, it’s okay if your best man speech paints a picture of your relationship with the groom, but you need to concentrate on what a great guy he is, so everything you say has to revolve around that.

Be pleasant and nice and give your best man speech a flow. Every section and paragraph should run smoothly, jokes should be brief, and each story (you could also include other friends’ favourite memories, too) should reveal some more of the groom’s character and life.

The conclusion to the speech

So, by now, you will have used all the funny stories and are ready to wow your audience with something emotional that will make their eyes water. You can say something about love and philosophize a little. It is also a good time to emphasize the love story of the bridegroom.

End your best man speech by saying how one completes the other and how happy you know one will make the other as they walk the paths of married life together. Your end to the best man speech should be as noteworthy as your opening comments, so don’t fade away.

Final points to remember

There is no need to try too hard to be formal or present yourself as someone you are not. It’s important to just be yourself. This includes not necessarily following your prepared speech exactly. After all, these best man speech tips were written to provide you with a guide.

Your natural mannerisms and voice are what will make the difference so make it sincere, personal, and if you talk from the heart, your best man speech will surely be golden!

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