4 Ways to Avoid a Cringeworthy Best Man Speech
Gentlemen, you do not want to be the best man who delivers a cringeworthy best man speech, do you? You are asked to speak at a wedding for someone significant to you. A wedding day is arguably one of the most important days in a couple’s life. Whether it is their first wedding or a renewal of their vows, you want your best man speech to be memorable in a good way.
How long is a best man speech?
We have all been at weddings or events when the speaker overstays their welcome. We have also been engaged with speakers who entertain us, make us laugh, and shed a tear. It can be done.
We recommend the best man speech to be no longer than 4 to 6 minutes in length or about 780 words spoken at a comfortable pace. The bar is set, the monkey is on your back, and you have five minutes to make your words count. How do you do it?
Prepare your best man speech. Winging it does not work.
I recently spoke with a young man in his late 20’s. Let’s call him Max. Max was asked to be the best man, and with that comes the best man speech or toast. Since they were in middle school, he has known the groom and was very close to the couple who lived in his dorm and met in college. How hard can this be?
The night before the wedding, the bride asked Max about the speech. He assured her he was ready and was simply going to wing it and talk about them and the history they share. The poor bride panicked, and together they mapped out the speech on a napkin. The next day, a nervous and unprepared Max delivered a mediocre best man speech. Always prepare for a speech. It is time well spent, and practice does make perfect.
Be personal and appropriate.
My brother-in-law, John, delivered a heartfelt and humorous best man speech. John was a perfectionist and prepared the speech and practiced it numerous times before the wedding. He shared moments early in our relationship as a couple and with him. John’s efforts were well spent and forever memorable.
Sharing personal stories can make a grandmother shed a tear, and a father-of-the-bride realize why his daughter loves the groom. On the flip side, telling tales of late-night fraternity parties or spring break trips to Florida never end well. It is best to avoid:
- past relationships
- any form of adult humor
- negative thoughts about marriage, family, or couple
- forced humor such as awkward jokes or long-winded stories
If you have even a slight inclination that it may not be a good idea, it probably isn’t.
Do not drink before the speech.
Raising a glass to the happy couple should be enjoyed after your speech. Drinking before will not calm your nerves. Drinking will dull your senses and affect the ability to focus. You have the whole evening to enjoy a spirit or two. I promise it is well worth the wait.
Close with a toast
The couple chose you to be the best man and represent them, so thank everyone for being there. Close with a heartfelt thought or quote and avoid cliches or trendy ideas. (Do NOT Google best man speech jokes!) Believe it or not, the best man can be so nervous and so caught up in the delivery that they close with a simple thank you and forget the toast. Be confident and raise your glass. Lead their friends and family celebrating with them a toast to wish them the best on this special day.
It is okay to hire a best man speechwriter.
Couples, perhaps you are experiencing a slight hesitation with your best man selection and feel the need for a little one-on-one coaching and some literary assistance to help him through.
The internet may tell you that hiring a best man speech writer will deliver a canned and impersonal speech. That may be true if you…. “complete an online questionnaire, and for $99.13, you will receive a custom-made best man speech delivered to your inbox!”
I don’t work that way. It takes, on average, five hours to write a best man speech. This includes time spent with the best man, with or without the couple too. Understanding the dynamic and the chemistry that aids the creative process. Then we work together to create a flow that is comfortable for the best man to deliver. We practice that delivery too, either in person or on Zoom.
There is no such thing as a bad best man, just an unprepared one that needs a little support and TLC.