Are you facing the prospect of standing up and entertaining a wedding and don't know how to do it? I've done it and I'll tell you here, how to go about preparing and delivering your speech to get laughs, applause and drinks in the bar afterwards!
A guide to performing a great best man speech
This is a guide to writing and performing a best man's speech, from someone who has done it and survived the experience!
Scared? Nervous? Relaxed?
I was in a bit of a panic when I was asked by my friend to be his best man. I knew it would involve lots of organising, but that bit didn't bother me too much. It was the dinner, where I knew I'd have to stand in front of 100 people and entertain them. However with a bit of planning, this is achievable, even if you have never done any public speaking before.
The best man's speech is one of the most memorable parts of the wedding and is a chance for everybody to relax after the ceremony and have some fun. You must make it funny, touching and overall it's got to be entertaining!
Ok, the thought of standing in front of lots of people and entertaining them is something that makes most people nervous. But this is what makes a good speech good, if you're nervous enough to worry about it, then hopefully you'll plan it for a while and make it good. I have heard about speeches where the best man tried to make it up on the spot and it went down terribly. I prepared mine for a while beforehand to build up my confidence.
You need to think back through all of the stories that you have on your friend and try and think about which ones are appropriate for the wedding. You want ones that don't offend and aren't about your friend having relations with other women. You also want to think about stories that people will find entertaining even if they don't really know the groom, rather than injokes that most people won't get.
You need to make sure that you thank the bridesmaids and anyone that has already given a speech. You also want to make sure that you compliment the bride repeatedly and tell everyone how awesome she is. It's her day, so make her feel good. You also need at least a couple of funny stories about the groom, as well as some touching part at the end where you wish the happy couple well. Of course the final part is a toast to the happy couple. After that, you can sit down and then start relaxing with a drink. Talking of drink..
Don't drink beforehand
If you try and drink to calm your nerves, you'll just come across as drunk and this will make you look like a fool. It's hard not to have a snifter to calm the nerves, but you must make sure you don't do it as you need to be have a clear voice and mind to make sure that your timing is good for your jokes. Slurring and swaying will just mark you out as a chump.
You must get up and pretend you're having a good time even if you're not. Force a smile onto your face and people will smile and relax. If you look like you don't want to be there, it's not ideal. So just plaster one on!
Don't worry about looking nervous
If you haven't given many/any speeches before then chances are you'll be nervous. I was pretty nervous to be honest beforehand, but I remembered that people don't mind if you're nervous. As long as you've prepared properly, you'll still be able to get through your material. You're not going to be judged by people as it isn't a standup competition, so don't worry too much. Even if your jokes aren't the best, people will generally laugh anyway.
Make sure you go through your speech 100s of times before you give it. If you've practiced it to the point where you can say it without the paper, then you'll feel more comfortable on the day. This also allows you to practice your delivery and fine tune the jokes and the phrases that you find difficult to say and edit them out! You really need to deliver the speech to a real live person before the big day, so you can gauge the reaction.
Some people recommend just having keywords. I personally had the full speech written out in front of me, so I could glance down at any point. It's entirely up to you which way you do it, but make sure that you can read whatever it is that you've written so you're not standing there squinting at a piece of paper, shaking and crying.
Don't offend anyone
The best bet is to keep any ribbing to the groom only and keep it light. If you start relentlessly ripping into the groom, it just undermines the wedding a bit. Don't make any jokes at the bride's expense either. I did make a joke about the bride's father's name as it was just too good an opportunity to miss, but that's probably not recommended either..
Whether you want to do the speech or not, the fact is you have to. Make sure you spend as much time making it as funny and interesting as possible. When you get up there in front of everyone, they will laugh and applaud, unless you offend people with really bad taste jokes or swearwords, so don't worry too much. A nice tip is to make sure you have a glass of water on hand. If you get cotton mouth, don't be afraid to have a sip of water.
Get up there and make everybody proud. You can do it!