Are you nervous about giving your Best Man Speech?
It’s only natural.
You’re the headline act. People are expecting to be entertained. They want the speeches to finish with a big bang, not a damp squib.
The truth is, much of the anxiety that comes with delivering a speech is a result of endlessly pondering the question: “What will people think?”
If you want a glimpse into the mind of your future audience, read on…
What Questions Will Really Be On Peoples’ Minds?
We humans are social animals. We care how we fit into the group.
Think about it. If you genuinely didn’t give a damn what anyone thought about you or your best man speech, you would experience no nervousness whatsoever. It simply wouldn’t matter what you said or how well you said it.
But most of us do care.
So understand that even before you start to speak, people will have certain expectations about your speech. And a number of unanswered questions.
If you know what those questions are, it’s much easier to create a best man speech that ticks all the right boxes.
So here they are…
Q1. Who the hell is this guy?
As best man you are likely to know the groom very well indeed. But many people at the wedding may not have met you before.
So it’s important to set the scene at the start of your best man speech so people aren’t left wondering exactly how you fit in.
For those of you who don’t know me, I’m Danny and I’m the best man. John and I have known each other since we were three years old, so if anyone can give you the lowdown on him – it’s me!”
With this out of the way people can focus on the rest of your speech rather than being distracted by trying to work out who you are.
Q2. Is this going to be any good?
Everyone has a idea in their head of what a great best man speech should be like. Funny, charming, warm, creative, surprising even.
Everyone in the room hopes you’re going to give a speech like that.
But everyone also fears it’s going to be the complete opposite of that.
They worry that your nerves will get the better of you, your jokes will fall flat and all your stories will be boring.
In a nutshell, they worry your speech will be painful. For you and for them.
So in the first minute or so of your speech, they’ll be trying to work out where on the enjoyment spectrum your speech is going to lie.
Excellent? Or excruciating?
So take this advice: make sure you start strong.
If you must borrow a joke or observation from the internet (read about the perils of this below), make sure it’s a good one and put it right up front.
Better still, spend some time working on a punchy, original opening.
Getting a positive reaction early on will help you relax and it’ll help the guests relax too.
Q3. Have I heard all this before?
There’s a lot of pressure on you to deliver an entertaining best man speech. So it’s not surprising that you will want to include some guaranteed laugh lines.
However, many of the jokes to be found on the internet have been recycled by so many different best men over the years that they’re likely to be familiar to any seasoned wedding guest.
And while it might not seem too terrible a crime to include a handful of second-hand jokes, the problem is that people will wonder just how much of the rest of your speech is borrowed too.
So look for ideas on the internet by all means, but try not to use anything verbatim. Put your own spin on it.
Or acknowledge that a line is a popular one at weddings, then build on it.
Q4. Will it upset the bride?
Of the three traditional wedding speakers, the best man is the one who is most likely to be a bit outrageous. The most likely to take a few chances.
References to ex-girlfriends, stag party antics and general “bad boy” behaviour all seem like rich pickings when you’re looking for inspiration. But all run the risk of embarrassing the groom (which is generally okay) and upsetting the bride (which is absolutely not).
When things veer into suspect territory, it’s the bride that guests will look to to determine whether the best man has gone too far. If she’s still smiling, it’s all good. But if she’s gritting her teeth this will signal to everyone else that you’ve crossed the line.
So yes, you should probably give the groom a few uncomfortable moments in your best man speech, but pick your embarrassing stories carefully.
Assuming you know the groom well, you should have plenty of material without veering into dangerous territory.
And if you haven’t then ask around his family and friends for additional stories to include.
Q5. How much longer is this going last?
The average wedding speech goes on for too long. And as the final speaker, you’ll be addressing the guests at the tail end of their concentration span.
You’ll also have no control over what happens before you get to speak. If the father of the bride (or even the groom!) has overstayed his welcome, people will have less patience for you. Not fair, but true.
So aim to give a best man speech of no longer than ten minutes and give a little clue early on that you’re going to keep it short and sweet.
Finally, make sure you start with lots of energy – your audience will need that extra little boost to see them through the final stretch.
Ready to Answer Their Unspoken Questions?
You now know what people are likely to be thinking before you’ve even spoken the first word of your best man speech.
When you’ve got a first draft, go back through these questions and make sure your speech delivers the right answers.
If you anticipate the questions and concerns that will already be on people’s minds, your speech will be bulletproof on the big day.