Best Man’s Speech tips A-Z

Congratulations on being Best! Commiserations on worrying about your speech…

But don’t worry, there is Best Man’s speech help at hand. Here are 26 bite-size tips, written by a professional speech writer with a raft of BBC credits, which will point you in the right direction and reduce those stress levels.

So, if you’ve got 5 minutes to spare, read on…

A is for Alcohol

Alcohol is not a performance-enhancing drug. It really isn’t. For every extra ounce of confidence it gives you, it takes away in ability: your timing will be impaired, you might stumble over a word, you might stumble over a chair. But people will be offering you glasses of bubbly so what’s to be done? Be hardline. Stick to the drink-drive limit and you won’t end up in the speech equivalent of the ditch.

B is for Bride

Yes, we know every wedding is all about the Groom. It’s his big day. But don’t forget his wife. If you know her well, don’t be afraid to devote a section of the speech to her. If you don’t know her so well, it’s still good form to congratulate the groom on his choice of bride. As you’re not the one marrying her, a couple of lines is fine.

C is for cliché

You’ve typed “Best Man speech jokes” into Google and are now perusing the results. Well, so are countless other Best Men. Not only that but you are fishing in a much smaller pool than you realise. Some guests are quite likely to recognise any time-honoured lines. Avoid them. Original trumps old-hat every time.

D is for Doubt

You’ve re-read your speech and are not sure about a line or section. Is it as funny or relevant as you originally thought? Perhaps it’s too close to the edge? Here’s a simple rule: if in doubt, leave it out. Great films are often great because of what’s left on the cutting room floor. It’s the same with speeches. The red pen is your friend.

E is for Ex-girlfriends

Don’t mention them. Ex-girlfriends are the anti-matter of Best Man speeches – it’s theoretically possible to talk about them but you don’t want to see the results when that thought comes into contact with reality.

F is for Friendship

It’s the essence of the Best Man’s speech: you are mocking the groom because he’s your friend. But don’t let this stray into cruelty. Imagine your jokes as a punch on the arm rather than a punch in the ribs.

G is for Gimmicks

Using slides and video is tempting but you are also a hostage to technical fortune: the guests love nothing more than someone fiddling around with a keyboard while they look at the icons on someone’s home screen. If you’re not technically confident, don’t take the risk.

H is for Honest

Your speech will, at times, be a comic caricature of the Groom. How he lives on the golf course, can’t tie his own shoe laces, etc. But remember that all caricatures are based on an element of truth. Don’t be tempted to try to get a laugh by pretending the groom is something he’s not. At the heart of your jokes and stories should be the honest truth.

I is for Inclusive

Try to include stories that everyone will be able to relate to. Think of your speech as a buffet. There’s something for everyone. Don’t base it all on one period in the groom’s life or one set of friends.

J is for Jokes

It’s a Best Man’s speech, it must be full of one-liners! Not necessarily. If you’re not a natural gag writer, why force yourself to write them? And don’t copy and paste gags from the web. Keep the humour original and authentic. Base it on the truth of what the groom is really like and you’ll be on solid ground.

K is for Knowledge

If you have time, do a little research. Guests love to hear stories about the groom’s childhood or school years. It allows for that “he really has/hasn’t changed” moment. Ask his parents or siblings for any stories they have, details of favourite toys, etc. Remember: knowledge is power. To make everyone laugh.

L is for Length

Stop sniggering at the back, length is very important. Too long and the guests will be bored, too short and the Groom will feel short-changed. 1,300 words spoken at an average pace will give you 8 minutes of material. And that’s without laughter. Under 5 or over 10 mins and we’re entering the danger zone.

M is for Material

Brainstorm as many lines, ideas and stories as you can before writing the speech. Build up a bank of raw material and then you can hone and chip away at it. Don’t dive into the speech straight away. You need a block of marble before you can start sculpting.

N is for Notes

Some people are comfortable speaking without notes, most are not. There is nothing wrong with reading a prepared speech or using cue cards. Do what feels right for you. And don’t do your speech without notes just for plaudits. It’s the words that count not the delivery system.

O is for Order

If you’re worried about this, just remember the classic three-act structure: beginning, middle and end. Start with some ice-breakers and simple jokes about the groom, move on to main anecdotes in the middle, include some heartfelt thoughts towards the end, do the toast and you’re done.

P is for Projection

Ensure everyone in the room can hear you. If you’re using notes, speak above them not into them. If people are straining to hear, they’ll strain to laugh.

Q is for Questions

Rhetorical questions are a great way to introduce stories or start new sections. Compare: “It was 7 years ago that John and Mary met in a bar in such-and-such a town” to “So how on earth did such a wonderful woman allow herself to be ensnared by such a man? It was 7 years ago…”

R is for Reading

Read your speech out loud. You will notice any lines that go clunk, jokes that disappoint and those over-elaborate sophisticated, meandering circumlocutions that become a mouthful to say and a chore to listen to.

S is for Swearing

Never rely on swear words to get cheap laughs. Imagine you’re writing for Radio 4 not Channel 4. Getting laughter without crude humour or swearing is like creating eroticism without nudity. You get the reaction you wanted and you keep your self-respect.

T is for Toasts

The Groom might wish to toast close friends and family or absent friends but that’s not something you have to worry about. One toast. At the end. To the bride and groom. Sorted.

U is for Uncle Brian

If you’re not sure whether a line or topic is entirely suitable then imagine you’re addressing it to your Uncle Brian or your Auntie Beryl. Will they crack a smile or look away in embarrassment? If it passes the older relative test, you’re probably safe.

V is for Variety

Keep the references and themes as varied as you can. 8 minutes of drinking stories would bore even a rugby dinner so don’t inflict that on the guests. Think of your speech as a painting. Use the full palette of colours. Don’t tip a bucket of blue on their heads.

W is for Wedding

If you’re struggling for material, consider adding some jokes about weddings and marriage in general. There’s so much to work with: the planning, the venue, the guests, the dancing. Again, avoid old gags that even your grandmother thinks are a bit long in the tooth.

X is for Xylophone

And the most important Best Man’s speech tip? Never use a xylophone during your speech. They ALWAYS ruin it.

Y is for Yesterday

Which is when you wish you’d started writing your speech. However, even if the wedding is in a couple of days there’s still time to put a decent speech together. If you’re truly panicking, a professional speech writer can do it for you. Y is also for “Yes, this is blatant speech writer self-promotion.”

Z is for Zig Zag

Aim for a good flow in your speech. Don’t jump from one subject to another and then back again. This zig zagging is disorientating for the listener. Imagine each paragraph as a relay runner handing over the baton to the next section. You can then cross the winning line in style.

If you feel you’d like some professional support with your speech from a five-star rated writer (Trustpilot), why not click below?