Article Category: Speechwriting

Best Man Speech: What’s the Key to Succeed?


Best Man Speech

“Loved it! Well DONE.”

“Great speech – hilarious!”

“Mate, that was awesome.”

A great Best Man Speech is the highlight of any wedding banquet.

But exactly what makes a great Best Man Speech?

A Great Best Man Speech is…?

We all know the signs: first the chuckles, then the roar, knowing nods and glances, spontaneous applause, perhaps even the occasional hanky.

But is the reality of the Best Man Speech always this rosy?

Chances are, you will at some point have sat through a Best Man Speech and cringed.

I know I have.

A Lousy Best Man Speech is…?

  • The lousy speech that’s more like a reading;
  • The stale internet gag;
  • References to girlfriends past;
  • Clever jibes that fall flat; and
  • An ending with a toast that brings more relief than joy.

So, how can Best Men give themselves the best possible chance of being a hit?

No Best Man ever gave a great speech by making the Groom’s friends cheer and the Bride’s parents cry.

-- Simon Bucknall

Well, let’s start by recognising that preparing and delivering a Best Man Speech is nerve-wracking.

Trust me, I’ve been there.

I worried about whether the jokes would work. I worried about whether I had enough material on the Groom. I worried… I worried… and I worried some more.

But that’s OK. It’s natural. More to the point, it’s important. It shows you’re serious about wanting to do a good job.

But there is pressure. It stems from the received wisdom about what constitutes a “strong” Best Man Speech:

  1. The speech should humiliate the Groom.
  2. The speech should be hilarious.

Striking the right balance, however, is tricky.

No Best Man ever gave a great speech by making the Groom’s friends cheer and the Bride’s parents cry.

So, what to do?

Well as with any speech, the key is to be absolutely clear on your answer to one critically important question:

Who are you writing the Best Man Speech for?

A wedding audience is a complex beast:

  • young and old,
  • rich and poor,
  • aunts and uncles,
  • grandparents and 2 year old grand children,
  • close friends and distant friends,
  • traditional and “not-so-traditional”

Yet so many Best Man Speeches are written and delivered for the friends of the Groom.

Only the friends of the Groom.

I’m not saying the Groom isn’t fair game on his Wedding Day — of course he is.

But not if it risks alienating a whole bunch of other people who “weren’t-there-on-the-Stag-Do-when-Fred-got-drunk-and-shagged-Olga-The-Hairy, the-Bulgarian-shot-putter-from-Varna”.

Certainly not if it risks upsetting the people who, next to the Bride and Groom, are the most important members of any wedding party.

The parents.

Heresy it may be, but the truth is that any Best Man wanting to “score big” with his speech should build it around what will engage and entertain The Parents, not The Friends.

What will The Parents find funny?

When recounting the stories, what traits in their offspring will The Parents recognise and enjoy? And most important, what will make The Parents proud of their new son-in-law and their new daughter-in-law?

No, this is not about being a sycophant. Far from it. It’s about doing what’s in any speaker’s best interest —  recognising the number one rule of public speaking — know your audience.

(It’s also about discharging your duties responsibly, but we can save the high-horse preaching for another time).

Win The Parents and you will win The Crowd.

-- Simon Bucknall

Think about it. The Father Of The Bride has just given one of the most emotional speeches of his life, finally releasing his darling girl. Emotions are running high. Hankies are on stand-by.

Because everyone – the young, the old, the aunts, the uncles and the friends – is there to celebrate the single same event.

A new and happy union.

At a time like this – on a Wedding Day of all days – what’s the last thing everyone needs? Some smart alec on a mission to prove what a dreadful mistake the twerp in the meringue outfit just made.

Want your Best Man Speech to be a winner? If the answer is yes, then I can put it no simpler than this: Win The Parents and you will win The Crowd.

You may not be hilarious, but at least you’ll be appreciated. And that’s more than a malevolent Best Man will ever achieve.

Best Man Speech Example

Ed: As an example, here is Simon delivering a Best Man Speech. What additional lessons can we learn from this speech example?

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Comments icon7 Comments

  1. Great article. As many a bride and groom have remarked, wedding days are really about the two families as much as they are about the two stars of the show. A best man speech should charm, amuse, and move (in that order), but never offend, the two families in question.

  2. steve says:

    I just went to a wedding where the best man told a 20 minute groaner speech where he tried to do standup comedy for the first time. The worst part was that many of his jokes had a slightly racist slant like comparing how cheap Dutch people were compared to the Chinese..

  3. George says:

    The phrase “Best Man Speech” takes me quite a few years back when I was asked by my cousin to become his best man at his wedding reception. Since then I have performed the duty of raising the toasts for the bride and the groom as the best a couple of times. and honestly, I wasn’t too bad. In fact I quite enjoyed being the best man and delivering the best man speeches. I am by nature a fairly good speaker but I didn’t take it granted. I prepared myself for the best man toasts every single time. No wonder, I did reasonably well with my best man toasts on every occasion.

  4. steve says:

    To me in the above clip ,shows me that the speaker has fallen in love with himself and his speech. It should be about the wedding party

  5. Some great tips there – I used this page and (many many) others to help write a best man’s speech I did recently…

    Your page inspired me so much – I’ve even written my own set of tips to compliment it. I think we agree on most points!

    http://paulkerrison.co.uk/handy-things/best-mans-speech-nerves-heres-some-tips-for-writing-one

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    Thanks for supplying these details.

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