Writing Best Man Speech example

Best Man Speech Outline

Many people have issues with writing the Best Man Speech, and for good reason – to do it well takes, skill, practice and a good helping of wit. It’s little wonder that it can prove a real headache for those ‘lucky’ enough to be made best man. As I’ve said many times in posts, and pages on this site, your best friend is time, and now we find ourselves at the beginning of the year you’ll probably have at least 4 months before the fear and panic of the final countdown to D-Day. So, with that in mind, and if you’re planning on writing it yourself, you’re firstly considering the initial outline of the speech.

The problem with thinking of a best man speech outline is that you need to understand what kind of speech you want form the very beginning. If you’re thinning about going down the tried and tested ‘a couple of stories, a bit about the bride and marriage advice’ route, then you really don’t have to think about the speech until the night before, because no matter who much thought you put into that little lot, it will be an unmitigated failure.

A really great Best Man Speech needs to be considered as a whole and not as series of component parts. When I’m devising a plan for a speech, and all my speeches are created uniquely, I begin to think about how to bring all the elements of who this guy is and what he’s about into one central theme, and then build the speech around that. You need to have a beginning and an end, but you shouldn’t have any other boxes to tick. At the same time I want to know a little about the groom, but not so much I could write a book about him. So, any traits or facts need to be conveyed in the most succinct and funny way possible. And that’s the key to a successful Best Man Speech: succinct funniness.

So, stop thinking of the speech as a well trodden pathway form beginning to end, instead when you’re thinking about the best man speech outline, simply think about the outline of the groom and use that as your guide. Once you know what you want to highlight, then weave a pathway through his characteristics and stories, using a minimalistic approach. A quick and easy way to map out a structure is to look for some well prepared templates, but be warned: some are better than others.

 

This is an opportunity to have fun and entertain, it’s not a sales pitch, so forget the best man speech outline, and just tell a bloody good story.

 

One basic ingredient to all great best man speeches- great socks and great preparation.

Brave Not Edgy – A Great Best Man Speech

I write wedding speeches for all types of people all over thew world and if you forget for a minute the difference in social and cultural references, there is one thing that all great best man speeches should have in common: they are funny. And this is precisely what this Arsenal fan has achieved – being genuinely funny in a warm, inclusive way. It was a brave route to go down because these things can be hard to judge, but crucially his humour wasn’t edgy or crass, it was just very cheeky. And there’s a huge difference.

Being funny is not easy, I spend a lot of time analysing why something very simply can be hilarious, and why switching just one word can change something from being reasonably funny into a real thigh slapper. However, it is the comedy which is usually the undoing of so many best man speeches. Most men have only really experienced being funny with their friends at work or in the pub – tight knit groups, comfortable with each other and their humorous sensibilities. So, what then happens is that your average best man writes his speech as if he’s talking to his friends in the pub…and this is a huge mistake.

What is funny with three friends of similar age and background, rarely translates to a wider audience of mixed tastes, and to make matters worse what you find funny aged 30 in the club is usually not something you could share with your granny. But despite all of this, best men consistently write their speeches pitched exclusively at their friends and cannot see why taking the guests through ex girlfriends or real time accounts of the stag do just won’t work. The reason is simple: it’s not funny.

Being unfunny in a wedding speech is a tragic waste of life, but being so edgy and inappropriate that all the guests collectively cringe and shrink into tiny balls, should in my opinion result in some form of custodial punishment. Now is not the time to embarrass, humiliate or insult. It’s time to make a speech that everyone will enjoy hearing and you’ll enjoy giving, and this Arsenal fan has got it completely right. It’s well judged, well executed and above all genuinely funny.

Wedding Speeches

Practicing Your Best Man Speech

There is no getting away from the fact that practice makes perfect. The more familiar you become with the words, the easier it is to read vast swathes without looking at a prompt card, the pauses are all worked out in your head and you’re comfortable with exactly the right pace of delivery. There’s no substitute for all of this hard work and your performance will be all the richer for it…up to a point.

I lose track, and to a certain extent lose patience, with people who say they’ve read it out to their wives and they either didn’t laugh or didn’t get it. So, using this spectacularly unqualified focus group of one, the whole thing has to be rejigged. There is a  huge, and I mean HUGE, difference between practicing it in front of your wife/girlfriend/whatever, on a rainy night after work and the atmosphere of the wedding cauldron. At a wedding everyone is revved up and ready to go, primed with a bit of bubbly they’re hanging on to your every word and just need the slightest excuse to make them laugh. Reading it out to your partner in a much colder, more remote atmosphere is setting yourself up for a fail.

It’s also saying that your humour, your cultural and social references are inadequate compared to those of your girlfriend’s. Have confidence in what you first thought of as funny and go with it. There’s a good rule of thumb which I always remind my clients of: if it makes you laugh the first time then that’s exactly what’s going to happen on the day. Over analysis of jokes, conceits and observations is completely counterproductive and all you’re doing is allowing multiple sets of unqualified opinion tell you what is and isn’t funny.

But it doesn’t stop there because you’ll make amendments and then obviously go back to the same person to see what they think at which point they’ll see themselves as some sort of burgeoning critical talent and then by default have to indicate where it could be improved further. A complete waste of time.

Practicing your Best Man Speech should be a personal, solitary and rewarding experience, where on the day you alone reap the accolades. So take it from me: believe in yourself, because nobody is a better judge of what you should and can say.

 

 

Writing and planning a best man speech format is a lot m,ore straightforward than you think

Best Man Speech Formats

Usually one of the biggest problems with writing a best man speech is that you’ve got all the information but don’t have a clue how to stitch it all together. Working out how to use all the stories, character traits, funny observations and anything else you’ve compiled, takes a lot of thinking about because you need this to be something that people want to listen to and will entertain them. So it’s either a case of heavily editing what you’ve got or stretching it to fit the allotted time, so the best man speech format you might think, is critical.

The trick to sketching out a best man speech format is to look at it in a completely new way – forget everything you know, or think you know about wedding speeches. A great best man speech is neither an exercise in public humiliation, or a real time waltz through several stories that required being there in order for them to work. This is by far and away where most best men go catastrophically wrong. The usual format is to string together 3 stories which aren’t particularly funny, and sandwich them between a hackneyed introduction and a cliched ending…and nothing could be more boring or difficult to land. Stories require a killer punchline – which most don’t have – and when the first one doesn’t work, getting through the remaining two could prove to be the longest 7 minutes of your life. So the most important thing when planning the format is to forget stories and instead use what they contain in a much more effective and condensed way.

Instead view the whole speech as a story and take the audience from a well thought out beginning to a meaningful and powerful ending. This might seem counterintuitive to begin with but when deciding how to write a speech the only people you need to have in mind are your audience: what will they want to hear? How will they want to be entertained? What is their comedy threshold? etc etc. And the bottom line is the guests just want to laugh. They’ve sat through the emotional and very often completely inexplicable father of the bride speech, they’ve endured a 45 minute groom speech, their new shoes are now really hurting, their ties feel like tourniquets and they just want to start enjoying themselves, and that’s where you step in. Take them on one large comedic look at the groom, having fun with him, not at him, and celebrate his frailties and shortcomings in the most inclusive and entertaining way.

 

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So when I’m drawing up the format I first look at what the groom was like when he was younger, – be it teenager, toddler or just starting work, and then try to map out his journey from that point to the current day groom. This gives you the basis of the one big story approach and from this you can plug all the holes in that story with nuggets from anecdotes, well crafted witty observations, or if you’re really struggling, a little bit of fantasy. Yes, that’s right, fantasy. You’re there to make the guests laugh, sure you’re going to say some lovely things about towards the end of the speech but if putting in some little falsehoods like he wanted to be a spaceman and applied to the Didcot Space Center, only to discover there wasn’t one…tickles guests, then just do it.

So the best format is to decide at which point you’re going to pick up the groom’s life and then trace a pathway to the time when he met his lovely wife. The key to making all this stick together is daft comedy, don’t rely on internet jokes, or grubby one liners, you need t make everyone laugh and so that means coming up with funny things in and around the groom’s character. Explain how he went from being that slightly chubby, ginger kid with a thing about Thomas The Tank Engine to the urbane, metropolitan sophisticate who enjoys pilates. What was in his character as a 5 year old, that catapulted him to where he now finds himself? This should also allow you to bring in all those stories in condensed form, so instead of recounting how he walked around with a traffic cone on his head, simply drop it in to the speech as: ‘he planned to become the first international astronaut who’d been cautioned by police for wearing a traffic cone in the small hours of Saturday evening’. That way you’re stripping out the dull detail of the story but still letting everyone know what he did in a much more succinct and funnier way.

So, at the beginning introduce yourself, it will settle you down and allow you to build a rapport with the guests. Then set the scene at your starting point and begin. With this method, you’re not restricted to viewing the best man speech as having a rigid format, in fact you’re doing your very best to get away from that. This will allow you to be much more creative and give you huge scope to paper of cracks such as lack of material or dodgy parts of his life you’d rather leave out. The only other thing to remember is forget all the marital advice, bridesmaids and talking about being the best man – that is all very dull and part of the old school format that we’re trying to get away from. Nothing is more pointless or conceited in a best man speech than the best man talking about himself when the subject is the groom. This usually stems form having nothing to say, but with my story format that shouldn’t be an issue.

Towards the end you should talk about the happy couple but don;t budget for going into too much detail about how they met, as the groom will probably have just covered that in his preceding speech – apart from Australia where he’ll follow you – and the last thing you want to do in tread on his toes, or even worse repeat parts of his speech.

So the first rule of best man speech format…is that there is no best man speech format. Treat it as one big story, and an open canvas will present itself and all you have to do is fill in the blanks whilst making them as funny as possible. Stick to around 1300 words and this will give you a talking time of around 7-8 minutes which will help you ensure complete victory on the day.

 

A Best Man Speech Introduction is actually pretty straightforward to get right.

Best Man Speech Introduction

So, How to Write a Best Man Speech Introduction?

This is actually the most straightforward and easy part of the best man speech, but it’s also one where a lot of best men go wrong. All you have to do here is introduce yourself and say what an honour it is to be saying a few words about the groom. That’s it. Unfortunately many guys decide that this is the moment they need to step into their stand up routine and try hitting the guests from the off with a scripted joke or even worse a really blunt introduction to themselves. It never works. You are a close friend or brother of the groom, you are not a seasoned comedian and nobody is expecting you to be, so when you grab the microphone and go down the route of…”my name is Mike, and let me tell you about a funny story that happened to me on the way here…” you are simply wasting time, and taking the spotlight away from the real subject of the speech: the groom. Sure, you’re there to make people laugh but you can do that once they know who you are, and how you know the groom – it just gives both you and the audience some breathing space. After that have something funny to say about the groom not about you, or being the best man, or the bridesmaids. The other thing you must categorically not do is thank anyone, welcome anyone or God forbid declare what a lovely day everyone is having. Everybody has been thanked and welcomed one million times and your job is just to get on with the describing the life and times of the groom. The groom has just toasted the bridesmaids so you can leave them alone – under a strictly traditional format the best man is meant to respond on behalf of the bridesmaids, but nobody ever understands this and it makes about as much sense as eating garlic to keep vampires away. So, forget any bombastic, Saturday Night live intro and instead calmly introduce yourself and allow the guests to warm to you, then crank up the funny.

two brothers who could one day make each other their best man

Best Man Brother Speech

How to Write a Speech for Your Brother

Yes he’s either spent years following you around, borrowing your things being annoying, or he’s been the younger kid that you used to get to do dangerous things to see how much he could hurt himself, and now the ultimate conclusion of that relationship is he’s made you Best Man. Most guys have mixed feelings about being the best man and usually the only thing that can give it a negative spin is the speech. I talk to many guys all over the world each week and I’ve never met one who was looking forward to the speech – the expectation for an entertaining, funny and engaging speech can be understandably daunting. The problem with writing one for your brother is that you may have lived in the same house, but not hung out together, or you’re so close that trying to work out what you’d like to say and make it funny can seem almost impossible. The upshot of these two scenarios is exactly the same: you don’t have anything to write about, but don’t worry there are ways around everything and your best weapon should be creativity.

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Starting Point

The first thing to remember is that this is a celebratory, entertaining speech about your brother. It is not a CV is spoken form, it is not a list of accolades and accomplishments, and it’s not an application for him to join Mensa. The bottom line is that all you have to do for the most part is make people laugh in and around the subject of your brother; some will know him intimately and some will have never met him, so the comedy needs to be really accessible and easily digestible. The biggest hurdle facing all best men is that they simply don’t have anything to write about for a whole variety of reasons, so forget about what you can’t write about and start concentrating on what you can. Make a list of bullet points regarding your brother, these can be anything from his hair colour to his hobbies, include nicknames, his passions, what he doesn’t like and use that as a starting point. once you have that list you know what you’ve got to work with and can then work out how to piece it all together.

What to Avoid

At this point you’re probably thinking “I need some stories!”…but you’d be wrong. The biggest misconception about writing a best man speech is that it should just be a string of anecdotes recounting inglorious moments of the groom’s past, which in fact couldn’t be further from the truth. Landing a really good story relies on having a killer punchline and when telling it to a large audience really needs a seasoned raconteur to complete its delivery. In short: it’s bloody hard to land a story in a speech, and it’s where most best men fail. The problem only gets worse as the first story hasn’t worked and so your confidence evaporates and the audience’s confidence in you similarly disappears, and so the subsequent stories you’re about to tell don’t stand a chance.

So forget stories, yes that’s right – forget them. This should come as welcome news to those brothers that don’t have any stories or those awaiting delayed responses from friends promising to come up with the goods. You don’t need them. At the very most you can use some of the story in condensed form and just use it as punchline. So, for instance instead of telling us in real time the story of the groom going to the supermarket wearing underpants on his head, you can just refer to him as ‘the type of delusional young man, whose very public cry for help of wearing underpants on his head was completely at odds with his chess club membership”…or something like that, but you get the picture.

Piecing it Together

All really great best mans speeches should be a creative romp through the life of the groom. It doesn’t matter if you glue it together with fantasy here and there, what you’re really looking to achieve is not a collection of stories, but one big story, which is great for brothers because you’re in the unique position of being there right from the beginning. So the best idea is to take those list of bullet points and then find a way of weaving them all together into one big comedic observation.

What did he look like as a baby? How did he behave when he was little? And how can you compare that to the man he has become? Once you start to pick up threads like that you can work out how to travel from the young boy you grew up with to the present day groom, exploring whether he still has those flaws and passions, and exploiting it all for comic effect. What you have to do here is let your imagination run wild, don’t be constrained by the facts – you’re not looking to paste in Googled jokes but if need to make up a few things in order for a conceit to work, then go for it. People just want you to make them laugh, so it really doesn’t matter if he never wanted to be Prime Minister or a spaceman, if pretending that he did makes it easier to have some fun with the fact he’s ginger or likes Boyzone, then you simply have to do it.

By writing it this way you’re avoiding the worse possible scenario which is trying to get stories from friends of his in order to bolster your arsenal of literary weaponry. By all means use nuggets of what they’ve sent you – it usually takes ages to arrive and is invariably sketchy at best – but by making it one big story you’re not going through the painful and tricky process of recounting other people’s stories which is always a hiding to nothing.

A new sister in law

Another thing to remember is that you’re not simply saying how lovely his brand new wife is, you’ve just gained a new member of the family and a brand new sister in law, so that needs to be fully recognised in your speech. It doesn’t matter if you really don’t know her, or aren’t that keen on her, you need to extend a warm and loving welcome on behalf of your family, and let her know how wonderful she looks and how lucky you all are to have her. However, you don’t need to go into detail about her family and her parents etc – the groom will have just spoken about them and almost certainly toasted them, so avoid repetition.

Parents

I usually only reserve some time in the brother’s best man speech for parents if there has been a bereavement, and only then if the groom has asked you make a reference. The focus of the day is the bride and all spotlights should be fully trained on her, so if the groom’s speech makes reference to a deceased parent and a toast, then best man should avoid, as it will begin to shift the focus away form the happy couple and the celebratory day that it’s meant to be. Apart from that scenario there isn’t any need to talk about your parents in the speech as the groom should have thanked them in his speech, so avoid going over old ground. If you are going to say some words about an absent parent do it towards the start of the speech, keep it light and try to find some humour in the subsequent paragraphs.

Children

If your brother has children from this relationship, a former relationship or is gaining step children, then don’t forget to mention them in the speech and say what a great dad he is as well, and lovely kids they are…even if you don’t mean it!

 

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