Have you ever tried giving a speech? It’s the kind of thing that seems easy at first. Watch an artful speech on any topic under the sun, and the speaker’s words seem to flow without effort. Behind that flawless delivery, though, there were hours of preparation spent ensuring the speaker got it right.
The need for careful preparation becomes doubly important if you’re planning on giving the best man speech. Your audience expects you to deliver a heartfelt address, touches on your friendship with the groom, and, most importantly, celebrates the love between said the groom and his partner. At the same time, you’ll have to be entertaining, insightful, and authentic if you want your speech to make a good impression with the crowd. How can you even begin to accomplish such a feat?
Many elements come into play when giving great best man speeches, but it all starts with writing something worth saying. A well-crafted speech provides the foundation upon which you can build an audience-capturing performance, and this guide will serve as a framework for you to start drafting an amazing wedding-day address that you’ll be proud to deliver. Read on, as we cover the five steps you’ll need to follow and some helpful tips for great speechwriting.
Table of Contents
- 1 Steps to Write a Best Man Speech
- 2 Dos and don’ts
- 3 Best Man Speech 101
- 3.1 Plan in advance.
- 3.2 Make a killer speech “the first impression.”
- 3.3 Storytelling
- 3.4 Authenticity
- 3.5 Self-Deprecation
- 3.6 Find the timing sweet spot.
- 3.7 Don’t over roast and definitely don’t roast the bride to be
- 3.8 Do a few dry runs, ideally with a willing audience.
- 3.9 Jot it down, if for nothing else, to visualize the speech.
- 3.10 Be animated and be clear.
- 3.11 Don’t have more than one drink.
Steps to Write a Best Man Speech
It’s time to get to work! Like any other speech, writing a best man speech is something you can accomplish with an orderly, step-by-step process. In particular, there are five key phases you should be sure to follow, most of which take place before you even put pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard, if you’re more technologically inclined).
- Before you Start: Prior to writing your speech, it is a good idea to take some time to write down a few things about the bride and groom; such as how they met, what the groom was like before they met, how he’s changed for the better since knowing her, funny stories about the groom, how you know the groom and the bridegroom, and related topics.
- Introduction: Since there may be several wedding guests you don’t know, start by introducing yourself, and throwing out an opening line that will grab the audience’s attention. This is usually a good time for a couple of speech jokes. You don’t have to be a stand-up comedian up there, just throw out a line or two to lighten the mood and help make your speech humorous. Also, be sure to thank the bridesmaids, groomsmen, bride father, wedding guests, and everyone that helped make this day possible.
- Middle: This is where you share something special about the bride and groom. Though you may know the groom better, try to make it about both of them as much as possible. In this section, you may decide to share a funny story or inspiring story or talk about the qualities of the bride and groom. If you decide to go full stand-up comic, make sure to keep it light-hearted and avoid sharing any humiliating stories about the groom. If you can pull off a stand-up comedy routine that is uplifting and makes the groom and bride look good, you’ll have a sure winner.
- Closing: Every great speech has a strong close. When it comes to best man wedding speeches, you are expected to raise your glass and propose a toast to the happy couple. Your toast might be a famous quote about love and marriage, a blessing, or just a line or two congratulating the bride and groom and wishing them well. Practice your toast several times, so it flows naturally and doesn’t sound robotic like you’re just reading it from a card.
Step 1: Decide Your Purpose
Start by asking yourself a question, “why am I giving this speech?” The literal answer, of course, is because the best man asked you to, or you asked him. What you need to search for, however, is the deeper meaning of your speech’s purpose.
A speech is a powerful tool that can call an audience to action, persuade them of a particular point of view, or, in this case, entertain them while providing information about a certain topic.
The topic you’ll be covering is the relationship between your buddy and his spouse-to-be. Your goal should be to present it in a way that speaks to the “heart” of the matter without boring your audience or becoming an overly-long rant. While you won’t be the main subject of the speech, you’ll also need to find a way to weave your personal knowledge of the groom’s relationship with his partner into your speech.
To stay focused on your purpose, create a sentence-long theme that will serve as your guiding star. Something along the lines of “the perfect love at the perfect time,” or “the day I realized my friend met his match.” Stick to this method, and you’ll have no problem generating excellent best man speech ideas.
Step 2: Determine Your Audience
It’s a safe bet that the wedding guests will be friends and family of the groom and his partner, but which ones and how many? Knowing who you’re addressing in advance is central to any kind of speech and will give you the ability to fine-tune your words and make them relatable.
Will there be a large crowd with dozens of attendees who don’t know one another very well? You might want to keep things general. If the audience is more familiar with each other, you have an opportunity to add a few personal touches that wouldn’t be appropriate otherwise.
Step 3: Do Your Research
Throughout your speech, you may want to tell some funny anecdotes or relate a moment in time that perfectly illustrates what the groom’s relationship with his partner is all about. While your own knowledge may suffice, you’ll be doing yourself a favour by performing some research.
It doesn’t have to be too in-depth (you’re not going after the Pulitzer Prize or anything), but checking up on basic dates, locations, names, etc. will ensure you have your facts straight. During the course of your research, you might also discover a few new details that can enhance your speech or realize there’s a better angle you can use to relay your narrative, so it’s rarely ever a wasted effort.
Draw upon other first-hand sources — friends and family of the groom, old roommates, perhaps even a former professor or employer if it’s relevant to the story you want to tell. Combine whatever information you gain with your own recollection of events to create as broad a base of material as possible for writing your speech.
Step 4: Craft Your Outline
Remember in school when you’d create an outline before writing a paper? A similar principle applies to writing a best man speech, though this outline needn’t be as detailed as one you’d use for a book report or research paper.
Start your outline with an introduction. After that, use your purpose statement from Step 1 to brainstorm the supporting ideas for your narrative will include. Pepper the outline with the important points you’re obligated to cover (complimenting the groom’s partner, congratulating the couple, etc.), and close by calling for a toast.
What you come up with should look something like this:
- Begin with captivating opener
- Introduce yourself and give the nod to the previous speakers
- Use a joke to lead into your story
- Tell them your heartfelt tale
- Tie the story to the groom’s love for his partner
- Work in a compliment about his partner
- Congratulate the newlyweds
- Deliver one more zinger about the groom
- Conclude the speech and start the toast
Step 5: Create Your Speech
The moment of truth is here. It’s time to start writing your best man speech. Follow your outline and stick to the 10-80-10 rule for drafting the contents of your speech. Your opening and conclusion should account for 10% of your speech apiece. The remaining 80% is for your story, jokes, compliments, gratitude, etc.
While you’re crafting your speech, remember to keep the narrative compelling so that you can maintain your audience’s attention
When you’re done drafting, give your speech the once over. Proofread for glaring grammatical errors and make a note of any content that doesn’t make sense. Next, polish your speech. Cut out what you don’t need to make your point. If a section “feels wrong,” then rewrite it or remove it. Remember, the end result should be something you can deliver with the utmost confidence.
Dos and don’ts
- Plan ahead and write notes (we’ve got some spot-on notecards you could use; a best man should look the part, after all)
- Check any potentially controversial material with someone else, perhaps even the groom (or just play it safe and don’t include it)
- Practice! Do as many practices run as you can, either on your own or in front of others. Speak loud, speak clearly, and don’t speak too fast. Revel in it and enjoy it – the audience will be on your side.
- Remember to K.I.S.S. – Keep It Short and Simple.
- Be inappropriate. Think about everyone in the audience, and take particular care not to upset the bride or other groom
- Tell in-jokes that only you and the groom find funny – you’ll quickly turn everyone off.
- Wing it. Preparation is vital, especially if you want to enjoy it. Who wants to stand up in front of 100 people and not know what they’re about to say?
- Waffle. A wedding is a long day, and there’ll be other speeches too – so aim to keep yourself to 10 minutes or so.
Best Man Speech 101
We checked in with our pals over at Vow Muse, whose practice puts pen to paper in writing killer best man speeches for their customers. They shared what they saw as top tips to make sure you wow your crowd:
Plan in advance.
Despite how quick you are on your feet, the key to a good speech is putting some thought into it. This isn’t a chicken scratch on the back of an envelope kind of deal. A good speech takes a little thought process. With all the other activities you’ll be involved with, bachelor parties, etc., finding the time during the calm is crucial. The advice here is three months before the wedding. Let it simmer a bit and allow your creativity a window as opposed to pulling something off on the fly. Spontaneous can be good sometimes, but not when it comes to a great speech.
Make a killer speech “the first impression.”
Meaning set the tone in the first couple of lines. It will grab the audience and get the momentum started early. Don’t let the crowd drift. Reality is that most don’t expect a great speech because they’re hard to come by, so put some pop in early. Whether it’s a one-liner or roast, get it started on the right foot.
Find one good story that pulls it all in, and ham it up. Play the heartstrings, get some knees slapping. That story that typifies your groom perfectly, ideally pulling in your friendship with him. Everyone loves a great story.
Don’t force it; don’t feel scripted. This can be an issue if you over-prepare. You want natural. The words should be what you “feel” not what you memorized.
Everyone likes a guy that can make fun of himself; it makes you relatable and down to earth. So throw a couple of barbs at yourself, it’ll make the groom look even better. It’s his day, amp him up. There will likely be a lot of aunties and uncles in the audience that doesn’t know you, make yourself likable and a great reflection on the groom.
Find the timing sweet spot.
Too short, and it feels like you didn’t think about it. Too long and the crowd develops A.D.D. and starts getting hungry. The team at Vow Muse has often thought 5 minutes lands right in the zone of everyone wanting more, but just enough. This can range a bit on the nature of the wedding, a
Don’t over roast and definitely don’t roast the bride to be
It’s not your place and no matter how good your relationship with her, it’s her big day and the ladies tend to idealize the magic moment. They’re not going to find it hysterical if you tell the crowd how she put on her freshman 15. If you’re going to go with a roast, keep it to the groom and be gentle. No one needs to know how he passed out in his own excrement ten years ago.
Do a few dry runs, ideally with a willing audience.
Practice makes perfect, and no matter how many times you do it in front of a mirror, it won’t be the same as having eyeballs on you. Half the challenge here is often having 200 sets of eyes on you, not just the delivery.
Jot it down, if for nothing else, to visualize the speech.
What most don’t realize is that the exercise of writing helps us retain. Then you’ll have a little reference guide to comfort you in case you any temporary amnesia set in.
Be animated and be clear.
They say communication is 93% tone and body language. Walk a bit, own the floor, vary your tone, have some highs and lows. To grip your audience, you need to mix it up, and you need to enunciate like a champ. A mousey man does not grab a crowd. Keep the delivery well-paced, run on speeches are hard to synthesize.
Don’t have more than one drink.
Yes, you might think it will help with the jitters, but it will also kill the authenticity. Nothing says blubbering more than a slurred speech.