What is comic
Comic timing is essential if you want to give a funny best
man speech – jokes can fall flat if they’re not
told well. Good comic timing means the ability to deliver
a joke and make it funny – knowing when to pause, how
to build the joke or story, and how to deliver the punchline.
What is stage fright?
Stage fright affects many performers and public speakers
– even professionals. Whilst being nervous before making
your best man speech is a good thing and can be useful channeled,
stage fright is not good. It’s more like an anxiety
or panic attack just before you take to the microphone which
can cause you to forget your words, shake, sweat, and in extreme
cases to be physically sick or even to pass out.
What exactly do you mean by ‘professional
Exactly that – our techniques are ones which we use
offline when we coach people who come to us for help with
a best man speech. They are the same public speaking and speech
writing techniques used by many professional speakers and
What’s the difference between a toast and
Typically, a toast is a short speech, inviting guests to
drink to the health of the bride and groom. A speech is longer
and will usually include the traditional elements of a best
man’s speech, like a few jokes at the Groom’s
expense. If you’d rather propose a toast rather than
make a speech, its important that you frame your words well
and deliver them with confidence – you want it to look
as though you’ve chosen to say a few words, not that
you couldn’t be bothered to make an effort or you’re
too scared to speak for longer!
How can I be sure people will laugh at my funny
best man speech?
Chances are, if you find your jokes funny, someone else will!
There are a few points, though, to bear in mind.
- You have a friendly audience. They are expecting to laugh,
so this isn’t like giving a presentation at work –
with the best man’s reception toast, they’re
on your side from the start.
- Make sure your jokes and stories are appropriate to your
audience, as a rule of thumb, just avoid rude or risqué
jokes. Likewise, try to avoid ’in’ jokes or
stories which will only be relevant or funny to a handful
of your friends: you may think it’s a hilarious best
man speech – others might be offended or bored.
- The way in which you tell your jokes and stories will
make or break them. Put plenty of expression in your voice,
and don’t be afraid to use appropriate gestures, or
even suitable props. Pause before you deliver key lines
and punchlines. It can help to watch good comedy actors
on TV and note how they deliver their lines.
- Try telling your jokes in different styles until you
find one which you are happy with, and if possible run it
past a friend, or tape yourself so you can hear what everyone
else will hear on the day.
- If you find a joke so funny yourself that you can’t
finish it without laughing, keep repeating it until you
can: that way, you’ll not ruin the punchline for the
guests on the day.
- Pause for a moment once you’ve delivered your punchline
– it will give the audience a cue that they are supposed
to laugh. When they laugh, let them: don’t start speaking
again until they’ve finished.
- In the unlikely event of the joke falling absolutely
flat (which it may well do if it’s in poor taste)
, think of a fallback – like turning to the groom
and saying ‘Dave, that was yours - I told you it wasn’t
funny’, or “I was testing that one for another
best man who’s up here next week. I’ll tell
him it was lousy!”. Don’t dwell on it, just
lift the tone of your voice slightly and move on with the
next section of your speech.
need ideas for an African American best man speech!
man speeches – whatever your heritage and background,
always add a certain something to the occasion. There are
a number of books around which provide inspiration for African
American speeches: we like Tamara Nikuradse’s ‘African
American Wedding Readings’.
going to be proposing a heartfelt, traditional toast, make
sure you know how you’re going to deliver it and you
don’t get caught out by the emotion of the occasion.
Make sure also that you don’t sound like you’re
just reading something from a book – you want it to
sound as thought these are your words and sentiments too,
whoever the original author:
- make sure you know exactly what you’re going to say – don’t
think that you can talk around a few bullet points on the
- practice your speech out loud, in front of a mirror,
so you know exactly how to say it.
- A useful technique for avoiding sounding like a robot
reading something out is to say it as though you were describing
someone saying it as part of a conversation. So instead of
saying “I’d like to thank the beautiful bridesmaids”,
you’d probably say something like “she was telling
us how she’d like to thank the beautiful bridesmaids
for all their help”. Thinking of it this way will give
what you say a more natural sound and feel, rather that coming
across as too ‘speechy’.
- Make sure you know how to breathe properly (it sounds
strange we know, but it’s crucial to giving a confident
speech) and don’t rush it!
How do I make a best man toast to the bridesmaids
without sounding cheesy?
the groom who makes the toast to the bridesmaids, and the
best man answers on their behalf. If the Maid of Honor is
making a speech, she’ll probably reply to the groom
herself, so you won’t need to do it. If in doubt, check
with the bride and groom who is toasting whom – as the
final speaker, you don’t want to look stupid by proposing
a toast that’s already been made.
If you do find
yourself having to propose a toast to the bridesmaids first
think of something genuine to say. Do they look lovely? Have
they been a great help and support to the bride during the
wedding preparations? Whatever comment you choose to make
– and please don’t make it a sexist one –
it’s the way that you say it which will determine whether
your sound like a sleazy gameshow host or a genuine friend
of the family.
decided on something to say, practice saying your toast in
several different ways. You may want to record yourself so
you can hear what other people will hear, or ask a trusted
friend to tell you whether or not it sounds right.
comfortable with what you’re saying and you say it with
confidence, chances are you WILL sound sincere, and not cheesy.
Body language is important, remember NEVER to touch your face
with your hands during your speech – it sends out a
subconscious message that you are lying.
might also like to try the technique in the FAQ above: rather
that saying “I’d like to thank the beautiful bridesmaids”
, think of how you’d describe someone else saying it.
You’d probably say something like “she was telling
us how she’d like to thank the beautiful bridesmaids
for all their help” instead. Thinking of it in the third
person this way will give it a more natural sound and feel,
rather that coming across as stilted or insincere.
long should the best man speech be?
About 5 -10 minutes
is fine. Too much shorter, and you look like you’ve
not really made an effort. Too much longer and even the best
public speakers may find that the audience is slipping away.
Bear in min that you’re probably the last of the wedding
party to speak, and everyone’s been sitting still for
some time by now.
A short best man
speech, if it’s to follow the traditional format should
I want to give a short best man speech –
what do I need to include?
- A response to the grooms’ toast to the bridesmaids.
- A few brief words about the groom, how you know him what his friendship means to you.
- A few words about how happy he and his bride will be together.
- A toast to the bride and groom.
could all be over in a few minutes!
you ARE giving a short speech, make sure you’re still
able to deliver it with confidence: you want to look as though
you’ve chosen just to say a few words – you don’t
want to look as thought you’ve not been able to / couldn’t
be bothered to say any more.
What’s the order of the best man speech?
As long as your
keep all bases covered at some point during your speech, it
doesn’t matter too much what order you put it all in,
as long as you don’t miss anything out, and as long
as it flows. A wedding toast from the best man would come
at the end, though. Broadly speaking, you’ll need to:
- Respond to the groom’s toast to the bridesmaids
(or, if he’s not made that toast and no-one else has
either, propose a toast to the bridesmaids yourself).
- Say something about how you met / your relationship
with the groom.
- Say briefly how the bride and groom met.
- Make some jokes at the grooms’ expense (as long
as they’re not in poor taste).
- A few words of ‘advice’ for the married
couple, or quotations about married life.
- Read out any messages from absent friends (or you
can do this after the toast).
- Propose a toast to the bride and groom.
When does the best man give the toast?
the toast from the best man to the bride and groom comes at
the end of his speech. You’ll need to check with the
bride and groom if they want you to announce the cutting of
the cake, or if they want you to read out some messages and
cards from absent friends.
Although some best
men prefer to read these messages after they’ve proposed
a toast, the speech tends to flow better if the toast takes
place after a few messages – it tends to bring the speech
to a fitting end, with everyone on their feet raising their
glasses to the happy couple.
When everyone is
seated again, after your toast, you can announce the cutting
of the cake of whatever is to happen next (the maid of honor
speech, for example). If there’s an MC, though, they’ll
do this – you just finish up right after your toast.
What’s the order of speeches at the reception?
it’s the father of the bride who speaks first, then
the groom, then the best man.
Of course, it’s
increasingly the case that the bride, the maid of honor and
sometimes mother of the bride or groom will make a speech.
The bride’s speech usually comes after the groom’s.
The Maid of Honor’s would come after your best man speech.
Bear in mind that
the Bride and Groom should have the final say as to the running
order of the wedding reception speeches, and that if there
is an MC, you should let him know this running order for him
to announce you all. If there is no MC, you’ll have
to announce each speaker.
can be an advantage: you get used to standing up in front
of the audience before your speech….. and you have a
chance to have the last word after the Maid of Honor speech!
I speak in public I go to pieces. How can I calm my best man
the key for this one. If you think of your speech as a big
ordeal, it’s going to be daunting – so break it
down into manageable chunks.
There are several
relaxation techniques and methods for overcoming nerves in
our e-book, both while preparing your wedding day speech,
and on the big day itself . Here are some, in brief:
- Prepare your speech – make sure you know what you are going
to say. The better prepared you are the more confident about
it you’ll be.
- Practice your best man speech – and say it out loud, don’t
just go through it in your mind. Get used to how it feels
to say it, and try different ways of saying it (preferably
in front of a mirror so you can see what you’re doing
too) until you’re comfortable with it.
- Whenever you think of your approaching speech, DON’T
picture yourself in a worst case scenario, shaking and sweating
and gasping for breath. Picture yourself standing confidently,
giving a great speech which everyone enjoys; you’re
basking in the applause and admiration of all the guests afterwards.
It might not feel believable at first, but positive visualization
is an important part of your preparation. Start thinking “what
would a great public speaker do?” …and then try
to copy that, and step into that role.
- On the day don’t try to beat nerves with alcohol –
you could easily end up overdoing it and making a complete
fool of yourself. We’ve seen it ourselves many times.
Sip water (not too much, or you’ll have to dash to the
restroom) and perhaps try adding a few drops of Bach’s
Flower Remedies ‘Rescue Remedy’ to help calm you down.
- Breathing properly is vital. If you are in a panic, you your muscles
tense up, you take shorter breaths, you go into the ‘fight
or flight’ response (the body’s natural response
to perceived threats), and your voice will let you down and
give you away. Concentrate on taking full, deep breaths: this
will ensure that you have enough vocal volume to get your
speech out and heard by all, and controlled breathing is very
good for relaxation.
I’m giving a best man speech and don’t
really know the bride. What can I say?
Given that your
speech traditionally revolves around making specific toasts
and making jokes at the groom’s expense, this might
not be as much of an issue as you think. Stick with your basic
- Reply to the groom’s toast to the bridesmaids (if he’s
forgotten, you should toast the bridesmaids).
- Make a few jokes at the Grooms expense – how
you met etc.
- Say how the bride and groom met.
- A few words of ‘advice’ for the married couple.
- Read out any messages from absent friends and family.
- Propose a toast to the bride and groom.
WILL, however, need to know a little about the bride: not
just some of the obvious information like how she met the
groom, but whether or not she has a sense of humour, and any
‘no-go’ areas for the speech. The groom may have
a pretty good idea of these, but if he doesn’t, it’d
be worth finding out, just in case there are some family sensitivities
of which you are unaware.
way in which you present your speech will be important in
making a good impression on the bride, her family and the
guests. If you present it in an open and confident manner,
you will come across as sincere, honest and likeable.