Public speaking can be nerve-wracking as it is, but when you’re three glasses of champagne deep and about to deliver a best man speech to 100+ people, it can become a panic-inducing nightmare that will have you sweating through your suit. We’ve put together this handy guide to keep you on track, ensuring your speech will be one to remember rather than forget.
There’s no need to introduce yourself like you’re at an AA meeting, so keep things casual and conversational. Start off by saying your name and how you know the happy couple. Begin by telling people how you know the groom then segueing into the story of how you met the groom’s newlywed partner. Keep these stories brief (no one needs to know what you had for breakfast the day the you met the groom) and appropriate, you don’t want a glass of champagne thrown in your face for spilling the secrets of the groom’s past life.
Personal jokes, “had to be there moments,” and references from obscure movies are all on the blacklist when it comes to best-man-speech humour. This type of humour will alienate many guests and cause an awkward silence where the laughter should be.
Opt for jokes and humour that are light-hearted, appropriate and inoffensive. You can generally gauge the level of appropriateness via the style of wedding and your knowledge of the groom himself. Taking the mickey out of him, making light of some of his ‘quirkier’ qualities and slightly more embarrassing moments in the relationship are all approved humour tropes. For example, did the groom take his bride to a seafood restaurant on their first date, not knowing that she was allergic to shellfish? This joke is stripper and ex-girlfriend free, the bride is alive and well and anyone who knows her would know about her intolerance to prawns, so it gets the tick of approval.
The best way to figure out if your joke will be met with raucous laughter or crickets is to practice on someone who doesn’t know the newlyweds. If they’ve doubled over in laughter or snort-laughed, you can be assured your joke will result in a chuckle or two.
It’s the happiest day of someone’s life, so a little sentiment during the speech is okay, just ensure you don’t make it overly sappy. Unless you’re a talented musician, writer or creative, avoid breaking into song, dance or poetry that rhymes “love” with “dove.” A few tears are fine as long as you don’t need the table linen to wipe the waterfall streaming from your eyes, you don’t want to make the groom and guests feel uncomfortable while you pull yourself together.
People have laughed and shed a tear, now it’s time to wrap it up. Ending with a nice quote is a great option as long at the quote is short, accessible and somewhat tailored to the happy couple. Wishing them all the happiness in the world is a must before raising your glass and ‘cheersing’ to their future. Be sure to keep this part of the speech succinct and brief, there are a bunch of guests out there who need a drink refill and are itching to get on the dance floor.
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