How to Deliver an Awesome Best Man Speech
How to Deliver an Awesome Best Man Speech
Wedding season has begun, and with it comes the return of seasonal search engine queries for ‘what to wear to a (fill in the blank) wedding’ and ‘how to deliver an awesome best man speech’. There are numerous articles out there telling you how to nail a best man speech, how to smash it, win it, own it, boss it, and all of the other macho terms. My guess is that you’ve already seen a few but that you’re no more confident about the task that lies ahead of you. I thought I would offer some solid advice, aimed at those of you who are nervous about your speech, from the perspective of a professional wedding videographer.
I hear wedding speeches in their full guts and glory, not just on the day itself but throughout the post-production process. While wedding photographers can switch off and tune out, as a wedding videographer and filmmaker I need to work with the speeches to find the best snippets to use as sound bites in the films I make. You could say that I have a vested interest in encouraging and supporting speech givers to give the best speeches they can!
I’ve worked with confident best men who can’t wait to take the microphone and stand for their brother or friend. I’ve also encountered (far more commonly) the nervous best man, who can’t take his mind off his speech throughout dinner and copes with his performance anxiety in one of two ways; sobriety until the deed is done, or turning to his hip flask steadily throughout the day to ease the tension through drink. Neither option is ideal as feeling nervous at your friend or brother’s wedding and ending up jittery or drunk at 2pm means you’re likely not enjoying yourself as much as you could. Your friend wouldn’t want that, and with a few guiding tips the experience can be much more enjoyable. I promise.
So, without further ado, here are my tips to help you deliver an awesome best man speech (or any wedding speech for that matter!) for those of you who don’t identify with the super macho clickbait articles that populate page 1 of Google! I will split them up into two sections concerning both delivery and content.
How to Deliver a Great Wedding Speech When You’re Nervous
Reframe your view of your audience
Standing up in public and delivering a speech at a wedding is nerve-wracking. Many people who regularly give talks at work dread giving a speech in a private setting such as a wedding because they care much more about getting it right. My advice is to reframe your view of your audience.
The people you are delivering a speech to aren’t there to monitor your performance. They’re not taking notes. They’re not giving you a score out of ten, or deciding whether you should get the contract you’re bidding for, or a payrise for that matter.
They’re the friends and family of your friend or family member. They’re there to celebrate with you, to support you, and to cheer you on.
When you’re working yourself up over the speech, picture a room full of smiling faces (many of them already slightly drunk!) not a stoney faced panel ready to tear you down.
If you’re nervous, start by saying you’re nervous
It’s okay to show vulnerability. Men don’t have to be strong at all times, and it is perfectly normal to feel nervous or anxious about delivering a speech. If you start your speech by saying that you’re a bit nervous, you will instantly win the support of your audience. They will cheer you on, and encourage you if you need to pause to think through your words.
Speak slowly and clearly
If you make a conscious effort to slow down you will be less likely to fluff your lines.
Take breaks between your thoughts. Have your cards or notes ready, but don’t overwhelm yourself with an A4 script as you will lose your place on the page as the words start to swim. Speech cards are better, and try to use bullet points for general ideas rather than full sentences.
Know how to hold the microphone
If you are at a dedicated wedding venue then the wedding coordinator will be on hand to talk you through the sound system. The microphone is often a wireless setup but if there is a microphone stand, please use it. It’s there to help you.
Nervous speech givers often find themselves fiddling with the microphone, lifting it up and putting it down at random. This causes the sound to cut in and out, the audience to lose concentration and sometimes call out that they can’t hear you.
If you need to hold the microphone, tilt it towards your mouth at an angle of 45 degrees. Most microphones are designed to pick up and isolate the sound that is right in front of them and reject sound from the sides. Try not to hold it like an ice cream cone facing towards the ceiling. This can cause feedback and poor sound.
There are some excellent videos on YouTube if you’re worried about having to use a microphone and don’t have any experience with one.
Save the alcohol for after the speeches
The first to the bar after speeches is, without fail, the best man.
If you’re nervous, try to keep a handle on how much you drink before the speeches. You can always speak to the groom to ask when they plan to hold the speeches. Some couples choose to have the speeches before the meal so that everyone can relax and enjoy themselves.
What To Say in an Awesome Best Man Speech
And so, to content. What to say in a best man speech? There are so many templates out there. I don’t want to rehash the same old lines, and not everyone wants to follow a cookie cutter template, so here are some guidelines to help you shape your own speech.
Tales of adventures, the stag and general debauchery
Drunken adventures from the years of your friendship and the stag do are funny to you and your friends, but probably not of too much interest to the groom’s wider family or friends from work. If appropriate, include select anecdotes but don’t dwell on them, and try not to embarrass your friend too much!
Share stories of times you’ve spent together for example going to gigs and festivals or to the football, allude to the groom’s hobbies or interests (outside of going to the pub!) and remember that you’re there to add context and colour to the speeches, to help people get to know the groom a bit better. Tell them why he is such a good friend and you like spending time with him! Cast him in a good light! Gently rib him if that’s the nature of your friendship, but don’t pull him down too far. It is his wedding day after all!
Give thanks to your friend or brother for asking you to be his best man, and give thanks to those who have organised the day. Mention any special details included in the wedding, although be aware that other speech givers will also have their thanks to give. Try not to repeat what has already been said in the previous two or three speeches. If it comes time to speak and the thanks have already been given, it’s okay to abbreviate that part of your speech.
It’s traditional to say how beautiful the bride and bridesmaids are, but in my opinion it’s much more touching when speech givers give thanks to the women for being good friends or for shared experiences than commenting on their looks alone. Of course they look beautiful; they’re in lovely dresses and spent hours in hair and make-up that morning!
Comment on the unseen, and if you know the women in the wedding party more intimately give examples, if appropriate, of times when they’ve gone above and beyond in friendship.
Keep it simple, and don’t be worried if it’s quite short
Your speech doesn’t need to be an epic monologue stretching on for 30 minutes. If after giving your thanks, sharing a well considered story or two and wishing your friend and his new wife or husband a very happy married life you have spoken for just 5 minutes, that’s okay.
Short and sweet is always better than a long speech filled with embarrassing stories. Besides, the best man speech comes last. The guests will be itching to get to the bathroom, or out for a smoke, and they will thank you for not keeping them longer than necessary!
Even with preparation you may still feel very nervous about your speech on the day itself. Try to enjoy yourself, and remember that you have been asked to give this speech because you are a good friend or brother to the groom. It’s an honour, and he will be so proud to have you stood beside him on the day. Good luck and remember to share this blog post with your family and friends if you think the tips could be helpful for another member of your wedding party who is feeling a bit nervous about the speeches!