Remember that glorious day when your best bud slapped you on the back and bestowed upon you the honor of serving as best man at his wedding? It was months ago, of course. The two of you likely christened the arrangement by cracking a few cold ones, and you immediately got down to business – the business of planning a high-five-worthy bachelor party. But now the bachelor party is over and the wedding day is fast approaching. And you have yet to start crafting your best man speech.
There’s no shortage of tips and advice available for how to write a great best man speech. Don’t write it the night before. Don’t drone on for 20 minutes. Don’t read straight from a piece of paper. Don’t say anything that might humiliate the happy couple. This is all good advice. But many of these tips can still leave you scratching your head as you search for the right words to say, and they do little to ease the tense feeling building in your stomach.
Here are three specific, effective methods that will help you go into your speech with confidence and deliver a top-notch toast.
Start with a story. Not a long story. Not an inappropriate story. Open with a brief, lighthearted, possibly humorous anecdote that in some way relates to the bride and groom. Perhaps you recall the day your pal first met his future bride. Or maybe there was a moment when you realized he had gone completely head over heels for his special lady. Starting with a story serves several purposes. First, stories don’t generally require you to memorize lines word-for-word. You’ve probably spun this yarn before, or at least you’re quite familiar with the details, so there is room to fumble around with words without the entire speech unraveling. Second, your greatest value as best man is that you know the groom better than just about anyone in the audience does. Tell the crowd something it doesn’t know. Above all else, do not, under any circumstances, use a generic opening line that you pulled from a Google search. Nothing will have guests gulping down wine and staring at the tablecloth faster than an opener such as, “OK folks, I’ll keep this brief – you know, about as long as Travis will last in the sack tonight….”
Buffer your humor with sentiment. Should you try for laughs? A few humorous touches can make a speech entertaining, and it’s not like you’re addressing the United Nations. This audience is ready to have a good time. So sure, go for it! Just remember: It’s a toast, not a roast. This isn’t the time for a rapid-fire takedown of the groom (or, even worse, the bride), and it’s not the place to launch your standup career. Excessive teasing, even if it’s brilliantly funny, can give your speech a sour note. Of course, being too funny isn’t nearly as horrifying as not being funny at all. To avoid taking a wrong turn down the humor highway, add this simple safety valve to your speech. Every time you plan to say something humorous, follow it up immediately with something from the heart. If you’re joking about Travis being the world’s worst golfer, you might add that there is no one you’d rather spend seven hours with on a golf course. While humor can be hit-or-miss, expressing some sentiment will usually earn universal approval from the wedding crowd, and sprinkling in a few fuzzy compliments can be an effective insurance policy against a runaway comedy session.
Exercise your speech. Once you’ve written your speech or you have created a rough outline of what you’d like to say, it’s time to practice. But don’t do it in front of a mirror. In fact, don’t even rehearse out loud. If you exercise regularly, you already have the perfect time built into your day to work out your speech in your head. People often feel less anxiety when they’re working out, and it can benefit you to practice when you’re in a calm state. Repeating the speech in your head allows you to master the words without becoming distracted by how you sound or how you look when delivering it.
Finally, remember that there are only two people you absolutely need to please with your speech. As long as the newlyweds enjoy it, you should consider it a success.Share This!