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The Best Man’s Speech: Dos and Don’ts

As the Best Man, you should deliver an upbeat and amusing speech that will appeal to everyone at the wedding. Here’s how:

DO

  • Say it all in less than 7 minutes.
  • Begin with a compelling and humorous opener to get the crowd’s attention.
  • Introduce yourself with style and confidence, but never arrogance.
  • Thank your hosts.
  • Compliment the bride. Remember that the bride always looks beautiful, even if you don’t think it.
  • Beware of the bride – she’s off-limits when it comes to ridicule – this is her big day, not yours.
  • Know your limits – avoid in-jokes, sensitive subjects or embarrassing tales of the groom’s past.
  • Keep anecdotes to a minimum. Many of the audience won’t know the characters you’re talking about, so stick to one or two stories.
  • Condense an entire story into three lines of killer humour – it will go down better with the guests than a detailed 10 minute account of that hilarious holiday in Majorca in 1995.
  • Delivery – speak clearly, smile and engage with the crowd, pausing between sections, allowing time for laughter to subside after a cracking line. Don’t rush or mumble. However amazing your best man’s speech is, if you blow the delivery you’ll lose the crowd.
  • Draw on common ground – something you all have in common is that you’re at a wedding, so play on this. Everybody should be able to relate to your humour, which should be pitched just right.
  • Include some congratulatory and optimistic remarks for the groom. Go easy on the guy and don’t destroy him. Balance friendly digs with affection and self-deprecating humour and you’ll get the crowd onside, so that when you deliver a carefully constructed character assassination they’ll be right behind you.
  • Recite – you’ll come across best if you can memorise key phrases and deliver them with confidence. If you must read your speech, look up from the page where possible.
  • As you lead the toast, congratulate the happy couple and succinctly sum up the occasion.
  • End on a high. People remember the last thing they hear. Memorise your final remarks so that you finish with flair.

 

DON’T

  • Refer to previous girlfriends. Ever.
  • Use swear words. Crudities are best served from plates, not your lips. Avoid even mild expletives and tone down fruity language.
  • Go over the top with sentimentality and don’t cry – you’ll never live it down.
  • Go overboard on detail – your audience doesn’t have the attention span for boring stories so keep anecdotes short and snappy.
  • Be tempted to improvise. Adlibbing might cause you to lose your audience.

 

When your speech is ready, try to learn it, or at least be familiar enough that you can read smoothly and confidently.

By Fiona Philip

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