You know the saying: you only get one chance to make a first impression? It applies perfectly to wedding speeches, any wedding speeches, but, especially to the best man’s speech because, let’s face it, it’s usually a highlight of any wedding. As the best man, once you step up to the microphone, you only have one chance to get the job done and done well.
Here are some practical – and proven – tips to make sure your speech, be you the groom, the maid of honour or the best man, is a winner.
Don’t get drunk
If you enjoy a tipple then a wedding is the perfect opportunity to imbibe. You’re celebrating with your best friend the most important day of his life. If you do wish to sink a pot or three, do so after the speech.
Don’t wing it
You may know the groom very well and you may have a long list of stories you can relate as part of your speech but that counts for nothing when it’s time to actually give the speech. Anything can put you off your stroke. Prepare the speech well in advance of the big day. Make notes. There’s nothing wrong with having a few cards with important points thereon. Of course, if you’re a nervous public speaker then preparation is de rigeur. Unless you are a fluent, creative and thoroughly public speaker, don’t wing it. Please.
Don’t be a comedian
This may seem to be strange advice because one of the best parts of a best man’s speech is humour. By all means include humour in your speech but be careful about your choice of joke. You do not want to embarrass anyone. You certainly don’t want to embarrass yourself. Choose your witticisms carefully.
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Don’t be vague
Any audience responds better to a speaker who can make their point telling a tale. You’re not there to deliver platitudes but rather to talk about people and in your case about the groom. Find some touching, witty or humorous stories about how you and the groom met or how you’ve enjoyed life together. Speeches with anecdotes are nearly always more enjoyable and will keep your audience paying attention.
Don’t go there
Don’t touch on anything controversial. Of course, we need to define what we mean by controversial and that will vary depending on the make-up of the guests, but if you’re in doubt about whether or not you should say something, the best advice is don’t say it. There is an expression too much information. It means that a person is relating something intimate which is not appropriate to the conversation. Heed that advice.
Don’t go on and on… and on
Mr. Shakespeare came up with a few interesting quotes one of which is, ‘Brevity is the soul of wit’. A well-prepared and well-delivered short best man speech is the ideal way to go. It doesn’t matter how funny you are or how entertaining, speaking beyond a reasonable time is never a good idea.
Don’t be too clever by half
Obviously you will know of certain events which have happened in the past between you and the groom. They may have been the source of great entertainment for both of you. But that doesn’t mean that they are entertaining for others. In-jokes are never a good idea. You say something and the groom falls about laughing. That’s fine if only the two of you are present. But you have a room full of family and friends who do not understand the joke. Drop the in-jokes. If you can’t resist the urge to include them, do so sparingly!
Don’t go out with a whimper
This is the way the world ends not with a bang but a whimper. You need to rehearse your finale. You need to finish on a high. Even if it means writing out every word you will say in your final sentence, do so. Assuming you have delivered a terrific best man’s speech, you want to make sure that the finish is the highlight. One suggestion is that you end with a quote. There are many uplifting even humorous quotes about marriage. Find something appropriate and finish with a bang.
Don’t forget the toast
The whole point of the best man’s speech is that at the end you propose a toast to the happy couple. This again is something you should write out and learn by heart. You don’t want to get the names of the bride and groom wrong. You don’t want to stumble over this simple proposal.
Don’t be somebody else
Just because you’re going to have the microphone and be in the spotlight doesn’t mean you have to try to be somebody you are not. Be yourself. Be natural and speak the way you would normally speak. The quality of the preparation of your speech teamed with you being yourself will add up to a brilliant best man’s speech.
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