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Best man masterclass (2/2): the perfect speech

by | 29 August 2015 | Wedding Entourage

This entry is part 2 of 2 in the series Best man masterclass

A few weeks ago, we gave you some general quick-fire tips on how to be the perfect best man.

But let’s be honest, there’s one best man’s duty that’s far more daunting than all the others put together. And that’s why we’ve given it an entire instalment all to itself.

Sit back, grab a pen and get ready to take some notes. Our bestest of best men, Kevin, Mark and Rob, will explain how to write and deliver the perfect speech.

Getting the right length and structure

[Mark] Aim for somewhere between two and five minutes. If you’ve written too much – great. Now you can start to filter out the least interesting parts.

[Kevin] Roughly two sides of A4 is about right.

[Mark] Generally, however much you’ve written is too much. It takes far longer to read something aloud, pausing for laughter, than it does to read in your own head.

[Rob] Think to yourself: “has this speech delivered everything it’s meant to, but without waffling?” If the answer’s ‘yes’, then it’s the right length.

Getting the right balance of funny and serious

[Kevin] Start with a joke. It can be as cheesy as you like. I borrowed “it’s been an emotional day – even the cake’s in tiers.”

[Kevin] The main body of your speech should have a 50/50 balance of embarrassing stories and compliments. People will find the stories funnier if you’ve just complimented them.

[Mark] You’re the best man – the crowd are expecting to be entertained. You can sprinkle in little sentimental bits, but mostly leave the emotional stuff to the bride’s father and the groom. No one wants to hear your stories of man-love!

[Rob] If you’ve got a young audience, then your percentage of wit and sentiment should be about 90/10. An audience with a big age range might require a bit less wit and more sentiment. Some research is required here to gauge the right balance.

[Kevin] Never say anything bad about the mother-in-law. It’s not worth the cheap shot and it’ll only alienate a section of your crowd.

Man writing in a notepad

If you’re struggling to find the funny

[Mark] Not a natural comedian? Then be organised. From the moment you know you’re the best man, start jotting down funny anecdotes. Your phone’s note-taking app is perfect for this.

[Rob] Ask friends and family about funny or witty occasions they can remember.

[Mark] Write as much as you possibly can, using your funny anecdotes as the basis for your speech. Don’t worry about length at this point – just let your mind run wild.

[Kevin] Practice, practice, practice. Try out your funny stories on people and see which ones get the best response. Experiment.

[Mark] Once you’ve finished drafting up, have a friend read over it and leave comments. But make sure it’s not someone from the wedding party. Then re-read your speech a few days later and delete the least funny parts.

[Kevin] Remember that words are not the only things that make people laugh. The right pause or look can have the same impact.

[Mark] Don’t worry about wasting the precious time you’ve put into the parts you’re cutting out – it’s all part of the process. What’s most important is that you’re left with a witty portrayal of the groom.

Delivering the goods on the day

[Mark] Talk to the crowd, rather than reading to them.

[Kevin] Don’t forget: guests will be drinking and will be waiting to laugh, regardless of content. But make it too long and they’ll get bored.

[Mark] Make sure you optimise your speech by speaking aloud and using a timer while you practice.

[Kevin] Practice your speech on other people – work through the length and pause spots.

[Kevin] Learn your speech. It will come across better and you’ll look more engaged with your audience. No one wants to hear it read from a sheet, but pointer cards can help keep you on track.

[Rob] Often if the content of the speech is good enough, it won’t matter too much who’s delivering it. Just try to be clear and confident.

Best man celebrating success

Now go geddem, tiger!

Use the powers we’ve taught you for good, not evil, and go be the best damn best man you can be.

If you’re a serial best man and you’ve got some advice to bestow, let us know in the comments.

About the author

Matt Phil Carver

Matt’s a copywriter and blogger from West Sussex, England. He spends his days helping people simplify their writing and give their words more punch and personality. At weddings, Matt’s always quick to get up and dance, even when the vicar’s telling him to wait for the reception.


Wedding Entourage Best man masterclass (2/2): the perfect speech