Preparing the Best Man’s speech is no different from preparing any other speech. The same disciplines work. You’ll be trying to make your listners feel good. You’ll also be trying to make yourself feel, look and sound good.
Above all, you’ll be trying to avoid any of the negative scenarios that have been filling you with dread ever since you agreed to be Best Man. Let me take you through each step of preparing and writing a speech.
What you already know
Let’s start by reminding you of what you already know, and what it means for your speech.
You know that the Best Man concept originated in the days when brides were abducted, and her friends and family had to be fought off. So be protective of the groom, even though you may pull his leg and even embarrass him a bit.
- You know that you were selected because of your special relationship with the groom, so provide some insights and perhaps even divulge a secret or two.
- You know that you are expected to be amusing, and that you need to have or joke or two, but not the stale stuff that everyone has heard before.
- You know that you may have had to act as master of ceremonies, and that therefore you will have already made some impression on the audience.
- You know that you have to collect together the cards and messages from absent family and friends, so you must plan how and when to read them out.
- You know that your speech will be in response to a toast to the bridesmaids or maid of honour, and that you must therefore be gallant and gracious.
- You know that yours is a pivotal role in the day’s proceedings, and you should be masterful and “in charge”.
- You know that this is a wonderful opportunity to make a big impression, which could benefit you in your working life and may even lead to a speaking career.
- You know what the groom’s family and friends think of him, and what they want the world to know about him. You have privileged information about the day’s key player.
10 Key Points
You know all those things. It means you know what to say and you know that you will be well received because the wedding guests will see you as the one who knows what to do and say. So let’s draw up a (flexible) checklist of the 10 key points you should consider including in your stand-up slot.
Your first duty is to thank the groom for the kind things he has said about the bridesmaids or maid of honour, as you are responding on their behalf.
- Thank him also for any gifts he may have given to the other helpers: bridesmaids, ushers, page boys, and anyone else.
- Read the cards, telegrams, mobile phone text messages and smoke signals sent in by those who could not attend the wedding in person.
- Reveal some of the heart-stopping moments leading up to the big day, including misunderstandings, wrong deliveries, amusing moments and near misses.
- Select a couple of revealing anecdotes from your early relationship with the groom.
- Put in some mildly embarrassing revelations about the groom’s younger life – at school, at work, when he joined the Young Conservatives, when he switched to the Lib Dems, when he disgraced himself at some formal function … that kind of thing. Just remember not to be hurtful.
- Use props to highlight your main embarrassing revelation(s). This could be photographic evidence of his stag night, or when he had long hair and flares.
- Say nice things about the bride. Tell her how lovely she looks. Speak to both of them directly, part of the time, but don’t address the whole speech to them.
- Add a touch of sincerity near the end. Talk about the good mate he has been, about how he behaved differently “with this one.
10.Conclude with a toast. If the bride’s father hasn’t already done so, toast the bride and groom. Otherwise toast absent friends.
Once you have set down all the material you need to include, it’s relatively easy to arrange it in the order you should follow. Do you need to follow a sequence? Of course you do. Your listeners do not know what you have planned on saying, nor will they readily follow your drift unless you make it easy for them to see how each point follows from the previous one and leads on to the next.
Even if your mother and both your friends try hard to be supportive and laugh at all your jokes, you’ll soon notice that the rest of the room is simply waiting for your lips to stop moving, so they can get on with the dancing.
Follow the 10 points above and you’ll be fine. For more detailed guidance and sample speeches, get a copy of Be the best Best Man and Make a Stunning Speech.