Sooner or later in every man’s life, unless you are immensely unpopular, you will get asked to perform best man duty. As much of a privilege as this is to be asked, it is a daunting task that will undoubtedly cause untold panic, make you lose sleep, and ultimately test your friendship – that is what the stag do is for right? But to most the thought of writing the speech is the first thing that springs to mind and then delivering the speech is enough to make a grown man fall to the floor, get into the foetal position and wish he had never even bothered to challenge this guy to a game of conkers 20 years ago and put himself in this position in the first place.
Below I am going cover off a few key points that should help you put together a great speech, or at worst help you survive through a mediocre speech, I’m not a miracle worker and I can’t control what you write. But hopefully for anyone struggling to find inspiration this should give you a bit of guidance when you are starting out. To save you reading through everything you can skip to the following areas:
• Make it Personal
• Know Your Audience
• Don’t Get Drunk
• Giving The Speech
My brother asked me to be his best man, he and his bride to be gave me 5 months in which to write my speech, and predictably I threw it together in the last week or so. Fortunately it went well, people laughed when they were meant to laugh, cried when they were meant to cry and I was treated to several pats on the back for the rest of the night. When I was looking for material to put in the speech I immediately turned to the inter web thinking that it would be easy to grab enough tips and tricks to put together a great speech, which is one of the reasons that I left it so long to do, that and sheer laziness, alas I found that the kind people of the internet were only going to let me into the secrets of a good best mans speech if I was willing to pay a subscription for entry into their site! The scoundrels! Then it struck me, as much as these generic tips and jokes would help me out they would most likely be of questionable quality and I think everyone suffers slightly when trying to deliver someone else’s jokes, so I grabbed my laptop and just started writing.
Make it Personal
This, I would suggest is the number one rule for a great speech. At the end of the day everyone is in that room for two people. The groom and the father of the groom will have already waxed lyrical about how great the bride is, so it is your responsibility to tell everyone about the groom, not to stand up and tell several jokes in succession that could be applied to any faceless groom in the land. It is your job essentially to tell those in the room that don’t know the groom all that well, a little something about him, whether that something is positive or negative is your call.
Know your Audience
Now, I think the story about the groom getting hammered and getting off with some girl called Steph who turned out to be a builder called Steve as funny as the next guy, however you may find it a wise move to temper your urge to tell every available story about the groom as not everyone in the room is going to enjoy the stories you tell. You need to avoid offending or upsetting the Bride (priority number one there guys), the Bride’s parents (they are probably paying for the dinner you just ate, the wine you are drinking and the suit you are wearing) and the oldies in the crowd. Grandma doesn’t want to know about little Jimmy’s experiments with the hoover, it will ruin her perception of her Grandson and may send her to an early grave – you don’t need that on your conscience before the disco has started.
Anyone who has done any kind of presentation in front of people will know the basics of putting a structure in place for this kind of thing, and it will certainly help you to know where you are going with the speech from the outset, that way if you have decided against having the whole speech written out in front of you then you will at least be able to remember the basic sections that you have to cover off. I would suggest you will need the following:
Bit about your relationship with the groom and/or Bride and Groom;
Roasting the Groom;
Sincere bit about the Groom;
By the time you are doing your speech people will have generally eaten, been drinking a fair bit and are probably keen to either escape home (I am pretty sure that some people bring young children to weddings for this escape clause alone) or get back to the bar as quickly as possible. Although they will be looking forward to hearing what you have got, they will not want to sit through a 2 hour Jimmy Carr stand up show so try to keep it brief. 5-10 minutes is standard, and will fly by, if you are particularly good and comfortable speaking then 15 is acceptable too, any longer than that and you are likely to be on the receiving end of a few bread rolls left over from dinner.
Don’t get Drunk
Ok so this is tricky. The day is a long one, there is a lot of emphasis on socialising and getting around to talk to everyone as well as the stress of your responsibilities so it is only natural that a few beers are going to pass your lips. Now if you are anything like me drinking will make you speak more, speak faster, speak with greater confidence, but also with a slight slur and the occasional balance issue. This is ok if you happen to be out with friends and arguing over the quiz machine. When you are giving a speech at the most important day of your mate / brother’s life and all eyes are on you then it doesn’t go down so well and all those laughs that you think you are getting…. you’re not, at least not in a good way.
Ok so the Bride and the Bridesmaids are a given, tell them they look beautiful, did a great job and embarrass them with a round of applause, they will blush and tell you to stop but will definitely love it and it will give you as good a chance as you can generate for yourself with the bridesmaids at the disco later. Why not step away from tradition and compliment a couple of others here? Mothers in law get a bad rep, cut them some slack and let them know how important they are, same for the fathers. Any little kiddies that have carried rings down the aisle or acted as ushers, make them feel valued too. If nothing else then thank the barman, you will be needing him later on.
You can choose to go one of three ways with a best mans speech. You can be funny, you can rip into the groom or you can be sincere. The best is probably a combination of all three but probably the most important is the sincerity. This guy has chosen you out of all his mates / siblings to be the one guy he can rely on to get him through the day. It is the one opportunity you will get to really show him how much that honour means to you. It doesn’t have be wet to be sincere, you don’t have to take acting classes to produce Oscar winning tears, it just has to involve a few well chosen words about how much you value the friendship, how highly you think of him, and how happy you are that he has found someone to look after him / take over his life / other ball and chain type jokes.
Giving the Speech
Ok so you have nervously tapped your glass with your fork and the room is falling silent, all eyes are on you. Time to shine. Remember a few points here and you will fly through it. Firstly, the audience is on your side, they are there to have a good time, they want to listen to you talk (apart from the kids, they are there because their parents couldn’t find a sitter). Essentially, no matter how many of them there are, they want it to go well as much as you do. Don’t imagine them in their underwear, that is just weird. Secondly the audience wants to laugh. Get an early joke in and get your confidence up, once you have that you will relax into the rest of the speech and the laughs will flow. Most of all, relax, enjoy it and before you know it you will be done and the bar will be there whether it went to plan or not.